Many shows claim to be funny, but this show really lives up to its claim. The new Mel Brooks musical “Young Frankenstein” is now playing at the Durham Performing Arts Center uses humor and all the glitz of an on stage performance to make one heck of a monster show.
The musical, written by Mel Brooks himself, is adapted from the 1974 film version starring Gene Wilder. If you haven’t seen the movie, “Young Frankenstein” is a story about a young doctor, named Fredrick Frankenstein, or shall I say Fronkensteen, who inherits his grandfather’s castle and learns of his grandfather’s experiment of bringing someone back to life.
Fredrick Frankenstein (played by Christopher Ryan) meets his funny sidekick Igor (Cory English), beautiful assistant Inga (Synthia Link) and housekeeper Frau Blucher (Joanna Glushak) and then attempts to create a monster of his own. To watch an interview with Christopher Ryan and Cory English, click here.
The musical sticks to the movie’s most memorable moments and follows the screen version, which may mean a lot to fans of the film. Brooks has this crazy sense of humor that is injected throughout and is portrayed perfectly by the cast.
The chemistry between Ryan and English is amazing, which shines through on stage and they work well together. And good chemistry is important when doing comedy. You need to be in sync with the other and willing to go off script together, which they did on opening night. Some of that improv is encouraged in the show- if it feels right and if the audience is into it. So what does that mean for you? It means that every show will be different and the performance you’re attending is just for you.
Humor aside, the show has a lot of other qualities that make a musical great. The costumes were good for the era, the set had great flexibility, and there were a lot of great lighting and special effects. But let me warn you…the show uses strobe lighting, a lot of strobe effects. Maybe a little too much. It’s fine when it serves a purpose, like during “Puttin On The Ritz” and for lightning effect, but I felt it was overdone. I hated the fact that I had to wait for my eyes to readjust and felt like I was missing something because of the bright white spot I kept seeing.
Other than that, I really liked the show. The musical numbers were great, especially “Puttin On The Ritz”. If you’re the type that likes to leave during intermission, don’t leave during this one, you’ll miss the best part! “Puttin On The Ritz” is like the film version, except its expanded to showcase the ensemble’s capabilities. The choreography for this dance-tap number is spectacular and jaw-dropping.
If you’re a big fan of musical theatre, this is a must-see show. If you’re a fan of Mel Brooks and “Young Frankenstein” the movie, it’s a must-see. If you’re not a fan of theatre, it’s still a must-see, because of the humor in the show. “Young Frankenstein” is playing at the DPAC until December 12. Tickets can be purchased through the venue.
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