Through October 27 |
YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN Ken-Ton Elmwood Commons/O’Connell & Company
They’re “Puttin’ on the Ritz” in O’Connell & Company’s new home in the old Philip Sheridan School in the Town of Tonawanda, with “Young Frankenstein,” a musical version of the monster story.
You don’t have to be a movie buff to know the story of Victor Frankenstein, the scientist who tries to play God and creates a mobile and mostly sentient “monster.”
The endings of the novel and the movie on which this stage musical is based are different, between Mary Shelley’s novel, written in a competition with poet Percy Shelley and Lord Byron and the Hollywood dream factory version.
Mary Shelley was wandering around Germany and Switzerland, nearly two centuries ago, with future husband Percy and Lord Byron, while Mel Brooks was working with Gene Wilder, Thomas Meehan and the music of Irving Berlin.
That’s an interesting comparison between the old styles of cultural production and industrial Hollywood.
Brooks and allies play the musical “Faust” story for laughs, here, with Wilder the ideal performer in the movie.
Here, it’s a grandson (Timothy Goehrig) of the original scientist, Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Fronk-on-steen in this generation), a brain scientist in New York City.
He’s obsessed with the brain, musically proclaiming “The Brain” with his students.
Then, he inherits the old family pile in Transylvania, with that DIY lab still there, just in case, and the locals still there, just in case the lab is put back into use.
Leaving behind fiancée Elizabeth (Vanessa Dawson) he heads off to the old family place and falls in with the old crew, Igor (Joey Bucheker), Frau Blucher (Pamela Rose Ma) and the ditsy blonde Inga (Jenny Marie McCabe).
We know where this is going, with “It Could Work,” the four of them reviving the dead body, into Monster (John Kreuzer).
Where the original played the story with horror, Brooks plays it with humor.
Director Kelli Boock-Natale, deftly uses that humor, along with the possibilities of O’Connell & Company’s new stage and Matt Myers’ scenery.
OCC has worked on a series of stages, one way too large, one too small and one relatively right.
Here, it’s a pro stage, with size, wings and fly space, large enough for scene changes.
The company is still learning how to use the space and its possibilities, although the first try is impressive.
Bocock-Natale has a good cast to work with, especially Goehrig, Kreuzer, Bucheker, Mangus and McCabe and the crazed Inspector Kemp, Nicholas Lama, straight out of “Doctor Strangelove.”
Tara Scime has kicked in some strong and well-rehearsed dancing, with a very young cast.
This creates the impressive ensemble for numbers like “Transylvania Mania,” Mangus with “He Vas My Boyfriend,” Kreuzer and Goehrig with a tapdancing horde for “Puttin’ on the Ritz” and Dawson with “Please Don’t Touch Me.”
It’s silly but strong because of the basic material from Brooks and his team and a strong production from Bocock-Natale and the production crew and the cast.
See “Young Frankenstein.”
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