Saturday, October 15, 2016

Wetumpka Depot: "Young Frankenstein" [musical]

Ending its successful three weekend run at the Wetumpka Depot, Mel Brooks' outrageous musical adaptation of his iconic film masterpiece Young Frankenstein is a laugh riot that has audiences anticipating its key moments and memorable lines...and cheering at the end.

As a parody of the Frankenstein horror films of the 1930s, this musical's book, done in collaboration with Thomas Meehan, who also collaborated with Brooks on The Producers, emphasizes the comedic elements with numerous double entendres, sexual innuendo, and groan-worthy jokes, all in good fun and delivered by director Kristy Meanor's energetic and enthusiastic ensemble actors. Musical Director Marilyn Swears and Choreographer Darren Eastwold provide the necessary gusto to punctuate the musical numbers so that the actors' energy is always high.

The story of Frederick Frankenstein [a sincere and ebullient Tate Pollock] -- he insists for a long time that the pronunciation is "Fronkensteen" so he won't be associated with his grandfather Victor who infamously created the monster that wreaked  havoc on Transylvania many years ago -- a notable brain surgeon who travels to Transylvania to collect the inheritance left by his grandfather and his inevitable seduction into following his ancestor's footsteps, is well known to film buffs. But even those uninitiated into Brooks' movie version will find it easy to follow the machinations of the plot and its hilarious comic characters.

As Frederick's fiancee Elizabeth, an alluring but reluctant bombshell, Kim Mason teases Frederick with a vibrant rendition of "Please Don't Touch Me", leaving him wanting her even more. -- So when he arrives in Transylvania and meets Inga [Jenny Whisenhunt's naivete is delightful], a vacuous laboratory assistant who invites him to an innocent "Roll in the Hay" that turns into a sexually charged romp, Frederick is hooked.

Also on hand is Igor [David Rowland in the most accomplished performance here] -- pronounced "Eyegore" -- a hunchback who tells Frederick that "my grandfather worked for your grandfather" and therefore I will work for you, celebrates this union in "Together Again for the First Time".

But the townspeople are not at all pleased with Frederick's arrival, anticipating a return to his grandfather's past disasters. With Kemp [a Teutonic Joe Collins] as their leader, an official with one wooden arm and one wooden leg, these folks are eager to get rid of the newcomer. [As an ensemble, they also play an assortment of ghosts, hangers-on, and other chorus members as needed in the bigger production numbers. Special notice for Reese Lynch as Ziggy, the village idiot.]

When Frederick determines to "Join the Family Business" with the help of Victor [Brad Moon] his grandfather's ghost, he discovers the hidden laboratory as he follows the sound of violin music provided by Frau Blucher [Chantel Oakley in a remarkably controlled characterization], the sinister-looking housekeeper and lover of Victor as she explains in "He Vas My Boyfriend".

After grave-robbing a seven-foot corpse, Igor substitutes a brain from a jar labeled, as he puts it, "Abby Normal", in place of the brain from a genius that he dropped, the Monster [Scott Page lives up to all the hype associated with the Monster, and seems to relish this role] then created by this team of misfits is more than a handful to control [he is huge and afraid of fire, and not at all a pleasant sort]; so when the Monster escapes, much must be done to set things aright. Things get complicated when Elizabeth shows up unexpectedly. -- In a show-stealing scene, an old blind Hermit [Bill Nowell], bereft of human company for a long time, sings "Please Send Me Someone", only to have the Monster appear with hilarious results in communication and physical missteps.

Victor convinces the Monster that he is "good" and shows him off to the public as a trained monkey in the outrageous "Puttin' On the Ritz"; but he is off again when fire intervenes...oh, and the Monster is attracted to Elizabeth.

With the townspeople and Victor & Company on the hunt, the Monster is captured and a brain transfer operation changes the Monster from a grunting violent creature to a brilliant articulate sophisticate, all will turn out for the best.

With just a couple of performances left, the Depot's production of Young Frankenstein is a fine way to end their 36th Season.