Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
The Broward Center for the Performing Arts celebrates its 20th anniversary with the new Mel Brooks musical Young Frankenstein. Young Frankenstein features music and lyrics by Mel Brooks, and a book by Brooks and three-time Tony Award winner Thomas Meehan. The musical opened on Broadway on November 8, 2007, at the Hilton Theatre (now named the Foxwoods Theatre) and closed on January 4, 2009, after 30 previews and 484 performances. The Broadway production received three Tony Award nominations, ten Outer Critics Circle Award nominations, eight Drama Desk Award nominations, three Drama League Award nominations, and one Grammy Award nomination.
The musical is based on the 1974 Oscar-nominated comedic film of the same name, written by Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder. Both the film and the musical are wickedly inspired re-imaginings of the Mary Shelley classic tale "Frankenstein." The basis of the humor of both is their parody of the horror film genre, particularly the 1931 Universal Pictures release of Frankenstein and its 1939 sequel Son of Frankenstein.
Esteemed New York brain surgeon Professor Frederick Frankenstein, inherits a castle and its laboratory in Transylvania from his late grandfather (a deranged genius named Victor Von Frankenstein). Though Frederick grapples with continuing to run from his family's tortured past (even pronouncing his last name "Frahnkensteen"), he is compelled to leave behind his beautiful but frigid fiancée Elizabeth to travel to Transylvania to settle the family estate. Once there, in the forbidding Castle Frankenstein, amidst the foggy moors of Transylvania Heights, he is compelled to carry on his grandfather's mad experiments reanimating the dead, with the assistance of an imposing housekeeper Frau Blucher, a bumbling hunchback named Igor and sexy lab assistant Inga.
The musical holds many similarities to the film, but doesn't quite deliver the same comedic punch. Many of the original gags are here, with a few new ones thrown in for good measure. The score includes humorous songs like "The Transylvania Mania," "He Vas My Boyfriend" and the now famous treatment of Irving Berlin's "Putting On the Ritz." It just may be that the actual melodies do not equal the clever writing of the lyrics and book.
This Broadway Across America Ft. Lauderdale production of Young Frankenstein suffers a bit from some sound issues. The coarse voice and loud speaking volume used by actress Joanna Glushak (Frau Blucher) in particular is not compensated for by the sound engineer, and some lines are unintelligible. Choreography by Susan Stroman is surprisingly good at making the most of the given dance moments.
The show has some good performances with minor flaws. Synthia Link is charming as Inga in the song "Roll In The Hay" though it does seem to go on a bit too long. Janine Davita is sexy as Elizabeth, but belts the song "Deep Love" so much, it approaches merely musical screaming. Christopher Ryan is fairly funny as Frederick Frankenstein but overall a bit bland. Joanna Glushak delivers a strong comedic performance as Frau Blucher. Her song "He Vas my Boyfriend" is the only comedic moment in the musical that is actually stronger than the corresponding moment in the film. David Benoit shows great versatility and comedic talent playing both the Blind Hermit ("Please Send Me Someone") and the wooden-legged Inspector Kemp. Cory English turns in the stand-out performance of this production as Igor. His slapstick antics, facial mugging, and over the top deliveries make him the best at selling the Mel Brooks style of comedy upon which this show is built.
Though not as funny as the film version, the musical Young Frankenstein is still entertaining theatregoing, just right for kicking off your Halloween season.
Young Frankenstein will be appearing at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts through October 17, 2010. The Broward Center for the Performing Arts is located in the Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment District at 201 SW Fifth Avenue in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Presentations at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts are sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Support is also contributed by the Broward Performing Arts Foundation, Inc. The Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment Consortium is a cultural partnership between the Performing Arts Center Authority, Museum of Art | Fort Lauderdale, Florida Grand Opera., Fort Lauderdale Historical Society and The Historic Stranahan House Museum. It is supported by the Broward County Board of County Commissioners as recommended by the Broward Cultural Council and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention Visitors Bureau. Evening performances of Young Frankenstein are Tuesday Saturday at 8:00pm and Sundays at 7:30pm. Matinee performances are Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00pm. Ticket prices range from $25.00 to $69.00. For any of the offerings of the Broward Center for the Performing Arts you may contact them by phone at 954-462-0222 or online at www.browardcenter.org.
This Broadway Across America - Ft. Lauderdale production ofYoung Frankenstein is presented by The Frankel Baruch Viertel Routh Group and NETworks Presentations LLC, in arrangement with the Florida Theatrical Association. The Florida Theatrical Association is a non-profit, civic organization with a volunteer board of trustees established to ensure the continued presentation of quality national touring Broadway productions in the state of Florida. Broadway Across America is dedicated to creating memorable and accessible theatrical experiences for all guests, selling over 5 million tickets to first rate Broadway shows, family productions and other live theatrical events in over 40 North American cities each year. For more information or to purchase tickets through an authorized agent, please visit www.BroadwayAcrossAmerica.com. For more information on the tour please visit www.youngfrankensteinthemusical.com.
The cast of this production are members of Actors' Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.