If director Davien Gould is the proverbial mad scientist and the cast of “Young Frankenstein” her “creation,” Ms. Gould must have been thrilled on opening night to see her production “come alive.”
Falmouth Theatre Guild’s spring production is outstanding, from the sets and costumes to the principal leads and all the way through to the extensive cast.
Sometimes it happens in community theater that one or two strong leads will carry a production. This is not the case for “Young Frankenstein.” Every lead was strong. Every lead, with the possible exception of “Young Frankenstein” himself who is the closest thing the show has to a straight man, was over the top. Every actor seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely. Every actor was making it look easy.
The show opens with villagers in Transylvania celebrating the death of Dr. Victor von Frankenstein and (hopefully) the end of an era of reanimated monsters being unleashed on the town. The celebration is short-lived however. Dr. Frankenstein’s grandson Frederick Frankenstein, a celebrated New York neurosurgeon, is summoned to Transylvania to settle his grandfather’s estate and then persuaded to “join the family business.”
Maybe I wasn’t the only person in the audience who has never seen the 1974 movie upon which the musical was based. Neither have I seen the 1931 movie “Frankenstein” or its sequels (I guess I’m just not a monster movie type of gal). That said, perhaps I was better off having no expectations regarding the various roles. Even though it’s a musical version of the movie and not a stage remake, it’s still hard not to think of Gene Wilder and Marty Feldman as Young Frankenstein and Igor, and in fact the whole cast was made up of household stars of the day, which included Madeline Kahn, Peter Boyle, Cloris Leachman, and Teri Garr.
Ian Rubinstein carries the day in the role of Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, the nerdy and inexperienced doctor who has “no intention of continuing my grandfather’s wacky work.” Although he’s soon convinced to do just that (and a few other things) by the voluptuous medical assistant, Inga (Jodi Edwards), and his over anxious servant, Igor (Alex Valentine). Mr. Valentine makes a likable hunchback, especially when he implores, “You be the teacher, we’ll make a new creature,” as he teams up with Mr. Rubenstein in “Together Again for the First Time.” Mr. Valentine even got laughs for a corny “walk this way” joke.
As Inga, Ms. Edwards plays the assistant who is eager to assist the young doctor in every way possible—with emphasis on the every.
Danielle Gelehrter as Frau Blücher, the housekeeper who terrifies even horses (especially horses), was super expressive in her gothic attire and creepy demeanor. Frau Blücher is especially enthusiastic about Young Frankenstein carrying on the work of his grandfather because Herr Victor, as she explains, “he vas my boyfriend.”
As the Monster, Matthew Gould proves that it’s possible to express a whole range of emotions with just a few well-executed grunts.
What: Young Frankenstein
Who: Falmouth Theatre Guild
Where: Highfield Theater in Falmouth
When: Fridays and Saturday at 7:30 and Sundays at 2 PM through May 18
How: Call the box office at 508-548-0400 for tickets
Bonnie Fairbanks is enjoyable, as always, as Elizabeth Benning, Young Dr. Frankenstein’s self-described “adorable madcap fiancée.”
In what might have been my favorite role, Peter Cook earned many a laugh for his portrayal of the blind hermit, a character which was, no doubt, a reference to blind Frenchman De Lacey in Mary Shelly’s original novel—a sympathetic character in the book but not quite as funny as Mr. Cook’s portrayal.
The sets were fantastic, especially Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory. It’s doubtful I was the only one in the audience who wished there had been time after the show for curious theater-goers to get a closer look at those illuminated specimen jars. Also impressive were some of the visuals projected on the screen at the back of the set. During “Roll in the Hay,” projected moving trees provide the effective illusion that a horse-drawn cart is rolling down a bumpy tree-lined road toward Dr. Frankenstein’s castle.
The most well-known musical number in the show is “Puttin’ on the Ritz” but numbers such as “Join the Family Business,” which featured the large cast, and smaller songs such as “Roll in the Hay,” and “Together Again for the First Time,” were equally enjoyable.
My only criticism is that some of the German accents were so played up that at times it was difficult to understand what the characters were saying.
The show is a bit bawdy in parts and contains plenty of innuendo and double entendre. Okay for teenagers on up but may be too suggestive for children under 13.
“Young Frankenstein” continues at Highfield Theater in Falmouth through May 18.