Bill Cissna, Greensboro News & Record
October 20, 2018
Community Theatre of Greensboro opened its production of “Young Frankenstein: The Mel Brooks Musical” on Friday night at the Starr Theatre. It’s a hoot, a holler and some inarticulate grunting from beginning to end.
Based on Brooks’ now-classic 1974 movie, “Young Frankenstein” revisits the lines and comedic scenes from the movie itself. Anyone who knows the film should know up front that you’ll hear or see it all.
But Brooks’ genius actually takes the audience further into the world of Frederick Frankenstein and his eccentric sidekicks than the movie does. Several excellent one-liners, and the flurry of lyrics in songs created for the musical, expand nicely on Elizabeth, Igor, Inga and Frau Blücher without detracting from the tale.
Brooks and Meehan’s musical is clearly built to move right along, barreling from one gag-filled scene to the next.
Under the pleasing direction of Bobby Bodford and with the entertaining choreography of Alison Presley, the cast adeptly keeps the wheels rolling throughout the fast-moving story.
One of the main differences between the movie and the musical, of course, is that the musical fills out its actions with songs and dances. Carol Burnett, the musical director, kept the voices singing well together. Chiefly, the solos tunes came off well, too.
The main character of this comic piece, which is sort of a sequel to Mary Shelley’s novel about Dr. Frankenstein and the Monster, is Frederick Frankenstein, the original Dr. Frankenstein’s grandson.
As Frederick, Dave Wils made obvious a commanding speaking voice in his first on-stage appearance. Like most of the leads, moments to shine through song were provided.
Wils’ handling of the lyrically diverse and stunningly tongue-twisting “(There’s Nothing Like) The Brain” deserves special mention.
He also portrayed the self-impressed scientist/virgin, who slides off the tracks with many a quizzical look and pointed comment, quite well.
Frederick’s fiancee and even more self-obsessed socialite honey, Elizabeth, had some great moments, especially in Act 2. But her singing highlight comes on the rule-setting “Please Don’t Touch Me” in the first act.
Paul Nguyen’s suitably offbeat and smart-alecky Igor brought a lot of the funny lines and physical humor in the show. He also delivered well when he got to sing.
Sarah Jedrey, as the horse-frightening Frau Blücher, made the most of her solo, “He Vas My Boyfriend,” built on yet one more well-known line from the movie.
Perhaps the best vocal delivery, however, came on Makani McKenzie’s delightful version of “Roll in the Hay,” which includes some knockout yodeling built into lab assistant Inga’s song.
And though it’s not really a speaking role for most of his time on-stage, Ray Cline deserves a nod for his engaging portrayal of the Monster.
Given Brooks’ lyrical direction in several songs and gags, it should be noted that “Young Frankenstein” is not suitable for young audiences or people easily offended by sexual innuendo.
A full house on Friday night enjoyed the three big dance numbers and the spirited comedy delivery. If laughter is any indicator, fun was had by all.
Bill Cissna is a Kernersville-based freelance writer and playwright. Contact him at email@example.com.
This News & Record arts coverage is supported by contributions to ArtsGreensboro’s Arts & Theatre Media Fund.