Reanimated ‘Young Frankenstein’ Tears Up The Center

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By Jill Fales | NB Indy

 

Laughter is the best medicine and Dr. Fredrick Frankenstein is doling out heavy doses of it at the Orange County Performing Arts Center through Sept. 25.

“Young Frankenstein” is the musical adaptation of Mel Brooks’ classic 1974 movie comedy. Brooks is the comical genius who also brought us “Blazing Saddles” and “The Producers,” the latter of which was also made into a musical and won an unprecedented 12 Tony Awards.

“Young Frankenstein” was nominated for three Tony Awards in 2008; although it did not win any, the show has won the hearts and funny bones of people nationwide.

“Young Frankenstein” is directed and choreographed by five-time Tony Award winner Susan Stroman. The production team of “Young Frankenstein” is like a reunion from Brooks’ “The Producers.”  Three-time award winning set designer Robert Wagner, five time Tony Award winning costume designer William Ivy Long and Tony Award winning lighting designer Peter Saczorowski all worked on Brooks’ previous stage adaptation.

Only a true comic genius like Mel Brook can breathe new life into the Mary Shelley classic, transforming it into a musical parody without losing the heart and brains of a great story.  The story follows Young Fredrick Frankenstein (Christopher Ryan), a well-regarded brain surgeon and professor in New York, who learns of the death of his grandfather, the famed Victor von Frankenstein, in Transylvania.  The young Frankenstein travels to Transylvania to see the castle he has inherited, and once there feels a real tug to carry on his grandfather’s work; reviving dead human tissue and creating life.  Add a sexy lab assistant, a village idiot, and a few other colorful characters and the laughter seems endless.

The sets were no laughing matter (the infamous lab was remarkable), with lighting and sounds effects to really bring it to life (pun intended). And the talent was superb.

Ryan is no stranger to comedy roles.  Recently, he played Lancelot in the Las Vegas company of Monty Python’s Spamalot. His comedic timing is impeccable.

Corey English gave a flawless and hysterical performance of my personal favorite character, Igor, assistant to Victor von Frankenstein. English also played Igor on Broadway.

Joanna Glushak was magnificent as Frau Blucher, the dark and mysterious, yet hysterical, housekeeper of the castle.

A film director, screenwriter, composer, lyricist, comedian, actor, and producer, Mel Brooks is truly a living legend. He celebrated his 84th birthday in June and is still at it. Such fantastic, upbeat music with such divinely witty lyrics: “Let’s forget about thinking – thinking’s never smart… Flush your brain right down the drain, Listen to your heart.”  From the song “Listen to Your Heart.” Brooks told the Associated Press, “I think it’s the best song I have ever written. I’m just crazy about it.”

It seems everyone is crazy about “The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein.”  But it will only be in Orange County for a frighteningly short time, so don’t miss this opportunity to see a spectacularly fun and clever show.

Tickets start at $15 and are available online  at www.ocpac.org, by calling 714-556-2787, and at the Center box office, 600 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa. For group tickets, call 714-755-0236.

 

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