If you are looking for some comedic relief from the seriousness of life then visit Trafford, Pa where The Theatre Factory has brought Young Frankenstein to life on its stage.
The comedic musical with book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan and Music and Lyrics by Brooks is based on his 1974 hit film of the same name.
The show begins with the grandson of the infamous Victor Frankenstein, Frederick Frankenstein inheriting his family’s estate in Transylvania. With the help of a hunchbacked side-kick, Igor, and a leggy lab assistant, Inga, Frederick finds himself in the mad scientist shoes of his ancestors and he brings to life a creature to rival his grandfather’s.
This was my first experience attending a show at the theatre. The house and stage are smaller than most local venues and I found it created a more intimate setting for the audience to experience the performance. While the smallness of the stage did pose challenges for Director Scott Calhoon and Choreographer Marty Savolskis both made the most out of the space they were given.
I’ll admit when we sat down, seeing the smallness of the stage I did not expect much for the set. But I was actually very pleasantly surprised. I loved the set designed by Calhoon. He used several sliding panels to easily transport you from the woods of Transylvania to the castle laboratory.
Actor Jason Swauger took on the role of Frederick Frankenstein. Swauger was able to successfully take elements from his predecessors, mix it with his own acting choices to create a character that was true to the iconic role but still of his own creation.
The role of Igor is one of my favorites. I have seen Matthew Hommel in several roles in the past and was well aware of the young man’s talent. Even though I had never seen him in such a comedic character role before, I went in with high expectations. Hommel exceeded them. He gave a performance that would have made Marty Feldman, the creator of the role, very proud. His comedic timing was impeccable and the chemistry between Hommel and Swauger elevated both of their performances.
When Layne Bailey joined the duo on stage for Roll In the Hay, they really got the crowd going. Not only did the three of their voices blend together perfectly but they played off of each other creating a hilarious number that the audience thoroughly enjoyed.
Beth Linda as Frau Blucher won me over when she gave her all when performing “He Vas My Boyfriend.” She showed her versatility in this number as she had me and the audience laughing hard with the first number then she completely showed the character’s vulnerability and made you feel for her loss when she sang the reprise.
The Monster, played by Matthew Mlynarski, gave one of the funniest portrayals of that role I have ever seen. His take on the character was a little different, almost childlike, but when you think about all that went into creating the creature, his take on it totally makes sense.
Vocally the entire cast including the ensemble was strong and did a good job with all of the musical numbers. The big dance numbers were somewhat limited due to the size of the stage but as mentioned above all did the best they could with the space given.
In short, if you are looking for highbrow theater this show is not for you. But if you like to laugh, have fun and enjoy Mel Brooks brand of comedy, Young Frankenstein is for you.
There are four more chances to see this show, Sept. 20-23, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. For tickets or more information visit http://www.thetheatrefactory.org.
Linda Harkcom is a freelance writer whose writing has appeared in most newspapers in South Western Pennsylvania. She has covered the theatre seen in Westmoreland and Fayette County for almost 10 years. Having raised two actors, she is the author of DearTheaterMom.com where she gives advice to parents who have children in or thinking of entering the entertainment field. She is also the editor of WPAEntertainmentnews.com a new blog focusing on entertainment in Western Pennsylvania.
Categories: Archived Reviews