YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN at Osceola Arts
There’s no doubt that musicals made from movies can be hit or miss. Broadway has had its share of that over the past few decades. Sometimes they work well (eg HAIRSPRAY, LEGALLY BLONDE, THE PRODUCERS) and sometimes not so much (eg CARRIE, KING KONG, DRACULA), but there’s something particularly exciting about seeing a fan favorite come to life. on the scene. That’s certainly the case for YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, the musical version of Mel Brooks’ 1974 comedy of the same name. absolutely fabulous – from the first thunderclap to the last clap of thunder (and the audience’s clap) – it’s a non-stop, joyful good time.
YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN the musical, follows the plot of the film fairly faithfully. It tells the story of the young and respected Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Ethan Gresham), pronounced frahnk-un-STEEN, grandson of the famous Dr. Victor Frankenstein, known for his feats of bringing the dead to life. The elder Dr. Frankenstein dies and leaves his estate (complete with castle and infamous laboratory) to his grandson who travels abroad to settle his grandfather’s affairs. Leaving behind a fiancée, Elizabeth (Mary Mackin), Frederick travels to Transylvania where he meets a series of goofy characters including Igor (Kit Riffel), the grandson of Dr. Victor Frankenstein’s henchman, Inga (Jordan Grant) the yodelling lab assistant, and Frau Blucher (Erin Brenna) her grandfather’s former governess. It doesn’t take long for Frederick to revert to his grandfather’s old experiments, resulting in the resuscitation of his own monster (Robie Phillips) who, naturally, breaks free and wreaks havoc on the village (much to the constable’s annoyance). local – Inspector Kemp (Ronnie Gross Jr.) Chaos (and hilarity) ensues, production numbers are played, and by the end of the show, Transylvania will never be the same.
In terms of plot, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN doesn’t have much, but it’s totally fine. Everything you need is there in the tight, focused book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan (which was honed in the West End and is the version played here). The music and lyrics (also by Mr. Brooks) are catchy, fun and melodious and the overall aesthetic of the show captures the essence of the original – a send-off of old horror films from the 1930s. Osceola Arts production Christopher Robinson does a fantastic job of nailing the look, feel and overall delivery of the show – evoking pitch-perfect performances from his entire cast. The overall performances are fresh (which can be difficult when tackling a piece that many have a strong affinity for) and downright funny.
Speaking of funny, the entire cast of YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN are hilarious in their own way and all give stellar performances. The acting and singing skills of the entire band are top-notch. Ethan Gresham is wonderfully wacky as young Dr. Frankenstein, evolving from skeptic to mad scientist in the public eye. As his fiancée, Elizabeth, Mary Mackin is glamorous and giddy, and as Inga, his lab assistant, Jordan Grant is naive but nimble. Kit Riffel delivers strong physical comedy as Igor and Robie Phillips (Monster) and Ronnie Gross Jr. (Inspector Kemp) are equally adept at their roles, especially in the second act where Mr. Phillips shines (and tap-dances) and Mr. Gross can chew sets as Inspector Kemp and as a hermit in a unique, yet hilarious scene. For me, a lot of the laughs from a YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN production depend on who plays Frau Blucher, and in the Osceola Arts production, Erin Brenna really shines. I found myself laughing my ass off every time Mrs. Brenna was on stage – a truly wonderful performance.
There’s a lot to love about the creative designs of Osceola Arts’ YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN. Robert F. Wolin’s magnificent rotating set (with hidden passages and a fantastically distributed laboratory) is a highlight of the evening. Matthew Carl-Allen’s costumes enhance the comedy and reinforce the 1930s aesthetic of the set. Lighting and sound designs by Bradley Cronenwett and Waylon Lemasters punctuate the onstage action well, and musical direction by Grant Haas and choreography by Indigo Leigh ensure that every musical number is completely entertaining and fun (and performed well). ).
All in all, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN at Osceola Arts is not to be missed. This is an extremely well-made, high-quality production of a beloved classic comedy that is sure to have you laughing out loud. Keep in mind this is Mel Brooks so it’s full of double meanings, sex jokes, innuendo and sheer bawdy, so probably not the one you bring young kids to see. But if that sounds like a lot of fun, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN is sure to please and is the perfect way to start the Halloween season.
YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, presented by Osceola Arts, will continue until October 2. Tickets start at just $24, with senior, student, and group rates available. The performances are at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. on Sundays with a matinee on Saturday October 1 at 2 p.m. For more information and to purchase show tickets, visit OsceolaArts.org or call 407-846-6257.
All photos courtesy of Osceola Arts and feature the cast of YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN.