Book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan
Music and Lyrics by Mel Brooks
Directed by William Osettek
Choreographed by Tammy Mader
Music direction by Roberta Duchak
Terrific dancing and fine comedic moments make Young Frankenstein a local hit
I am a huge Mel Brooks fan–I’d laugh if he recited the phone book! I loved all his funny films–with Young Frankenstein among his best. Director William Osetek’s Drury Lane Oakbrook Theatre’s production of Young Frankenstein is a tuneful, hilarious and impressive dance musical comedy. Anchored by Devin DeSantis (Dr.Frederick Frankenstein) and Travis Taylor (The Monster), Young Frankenstein is rollicking, high energy, funny Broadway musical true to the film. It is a most satisfying show rich in clever dancing (choreographed By Tammy Mader in the style of Susan Stroman’s original), fine singing with loads of funny zingers, bits, physical comedy as it satirizes and pays homage to the best vaudeville traditions.
Mel Brooks once again has a show with tremendous audience appeal (it got mixed reviews on Broadway) but it should do better in regional theatre. The opening night audience laughed heartily and applauded vigorously throughout. Brooks’ structured Young Frankenstein in the best Broadway traditions leaning heavily on vaudevillian Borscht-Belt elements. Brooks proves that his is a terrific song writer mixing tune-full melodies, many parodies of other Broadway shows, and witty, often satirical show specific lyrics. There doesn’t seem to be a musical style that Brooks can’t parody. From haunting ballads to up-tempo dance numbers, Brooks keeps the show fresh and moving. Susan Stoman’s direction and choreography garner all the laughs with loads of heart form Brooks and Meehan’s clever book.
As much as I enjoyed Devin DeSantis channeling Gen Wilder and Travis Taylor’s take on The Monster, this production owes much to Jeff Dumas as Igor, the Doctor’s servant. Dumas is quite a hoot, can sing as he succeeds much as Marty Felddman did in the film: he gets us into the world of the Frankenstein’s nicely.Paula Scrofano as Frau Blucher steals most of her scenes with her spot-on comedic timing. he also nails her song, “He Vas My Boyfriend” effectively.. In a Mel Brooks’ show, the humor comes from everything and everywhere.
There are several show-stoppers but nothing hits home finer than Mader’s staging of the great Irving Berlin ode to Fred Astaire–the magic tap number “Puttin’ on the Ritz.” This was a dazzling, toe-tapping and quite funny rendition of a classic tune that left audiences howling in both the movie and on stage in the show. You’d be hard pressed to find finer staging and choreography of a dance tune than Tammy Maders choreography.
Young Frankenstein is a slick production, rich in vivid costumes, stellar lighting with impressive sets to augment the comic acting, fine vocals and the polished dances that together with Brooks’ irreverent satire combine to offer a large-scale and most satisfying night at the theatre. This is a wacky old-time structured Broadway Musical from a mad genius that is pure escapist fun. We all need some fun and Young Frankenstein delivers boat loads of gags. if you loved the movie–then you’ll love the musical even more. Don’t miss this show.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: January 23, 2014
For more info checkout the Young Frankenstein page at theatreinchicago.com
At Drury Lane Oakbrook Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace, IL, call 630-530-0111, www.drurylane.com, tickets $35- $45 – $49, Wed & Thur at 1:30 pm, Thurs at 8 pn, Fridays at 8 pm, Sat at 5 & 8:30 pm, Sun. at 2 pm, running time is 2 hours, 20 minutes with intermission, through March 16, 2014