As part of the almost sold-out crowd at Jesse Hall Wednesday night I was hoping for raunchy, yet familiar entertainment – and I was not disappointed. You know there’s just something about “knocker” and ball jokes, overt sexual innuendos and Frau Blucher (nervous horse whinnies included) that make even the most sophisticated along us snicker with delight when we know what’s coming. And believe me, when it comes to Young Frankenstein (Stein – with a long E that is), I know ALL the lines, every boob joke, and want nothing more than to “roll in the hay” in Transylvania.
The cast, led by A.J. Holmes (Dr. Frederick Frankenstein), certainly had a hard act to follow. Like “Rocky Horror”, Young Frankenstein has an almost cultist allure, a kind of don’t-mess-with-my-1974-Mel Brooks-Gene Wilder-Madeline Kahn- masterpiece. But Holmes, who obviously saw the film a time to two, did an amazing job of resurrecting Wilder’s intonations. Lexie Dorsett, (the Doctor’s untouchable love interest), pulled off a decent Kahn, albeit without the smoker-like husky voice we all remember so well.
Rory Donovan, as the monster filled Peter Boyle’s big shoes well and I think Teri Garr would be proud of Elizabeth Pawlowski’s sexually-charged Inga. But then again, although Christopher Timson played a well-humped Igor, in all honesty, no makeup artist in the world can pull off those Marty Feldman eyes.
The scenery wasn’t elaborate, mostly backdrops and laboratory (laBORatory) furniture and equipment. But the additional strobe-lighting and some impressive electrical magic pushed the performance up the theatrical ladder a bit.
Yet, in some cases, the Spartan stage was ideal. Musical numbers, such as “Roll in the Hay” where a single cart “pulled” by hilarious horses managed to steal the scene. And of course, the crowd-pleasing “Putin’ on the Ritz” needed nothing but a curtain and a spotlight. We all knew the song and dance.
I was a little dismayed to find the much-loved meal scene – where everyone questions who’s stomach made yummy noises – wasn’t included. Another part that didn’t make the cut was the “put the candle back” one, nuts. But perhaps the swinging wall would challenge most stage crews.
In a nutshell, I enjoyed myself immensely though. Kudos to the orchestra who not only set the mood with their hauntingly familiar scores, but also kept the action moving. By the way, I was quite impressed with the pianist who appeared (from my balcony seat) to be conducting as well – bravo! And a high five to the dancers who’s synchronized moves and acrobatics were Broadway-worthy.
And finally, a salute to the Concert Series committee who brought this political incorrect production to Jesse Hall in a time when PC can be a touchy subject in itself.
To paraphrase Inga, “But Dr., I know the monster got your amazing brain, but what did you get from him?”