Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Las Vegas

Young Frankenstein
Poor Richard's Players/Super Summer Theatre
Review by Mary LaFrance


Rik Wade and Adam Dunson
Photo by Donald Visage (Olena Z Films)
The Poor Richard's Players production of Young Frankenstein at the Super Summer Theatre could appropriately be subtitled "Silliness Under the Stars." Thanks to strong direction and casting, this is one of SST's best productions in the last two years.

Based on the 1974 Mel Brooks film of the same name, Young Frankenstein opened on Broadway in 2007, with a book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan and music and lyrics by Brooks. The silly story is infused with Mel Brooks' outrageous and raunchy humor. While the music is not particularly memorable, it is pleasant enough, and serves as the perfect vehicle for Brooks' outlandish lyrics.

As the play begins, the infamous Dr. Victor von Frankenstein has passed away, to the great relief of the villagers of Transylvania Heights. Meanwhile, in New York, Frankenstein's grandson and only remaining descendant Frederick Frankenstein is the Dean of Anatomy at a prestigious medical school. Frederick has tried mightily to distance himself from his grandfather's reputation, insisting that his name is pronounced "Fronkensteen." Upon learning that he must settle his grandfather's estate, Frederick reluctantly travels to Frankenstein's castle, where he meets Igor (pronounced "Eyegore"), the grandson of the original Igor, as well as a yodeling lab assistant named Inga, and Frankenstein's sadomasochistic housekeeper Frau Blucher. One thing leads to another and Frederick soon finds himself immersed in the "family business," unleashing another seven-foot Monster who escapes to terrorize the countryside. The good-hearted Frederick must find a way to save the Monster and protect the villagers as well.

Under Benjamin Loewy's tight direction, the cast finds all the laughs and even creates a few moments of genuine feeling. Rik Wade is particularly endearing as the Monster. As Frederick's fiancée Elizabeth, the gifted comedienne Amanda Kraft turns each of her numbers into a near-showstopper. Other strong performances include Adam Dunson as a nicely underplayed Frederick, Anthony Barnaby as the enthusiastic Igor, Anita Bean as the creepy but devoted Frau Blucher, Alison Leigh as the zestful Inga, and Joshua Meltzer as Ziggy the Village Idiot.

Choreographer Josef Pescetto does a fine job with the entire ensemble, with the help of dance captain Monica Johns. While, for the most part, the cast's dancing skills are fairly basic, they move charmingly through the musical sequences and even perform a respectable tap routine in the evening's climactic number, Irving Berlin's "Puttin' on the Ritz." Under Karalyn Clark's musical direction (aided by vocal captain Joshua Meltzer), the cast delivers Mel Brooks' lyrics with cheerful clarity, although they are occasionally swamped by the overly loud recorded music. David Clark's lighting design serves the production well and is especially effective in the chase sequences.

Young Frankenstein continues through September 23, 2017, Thursday-Saturday at 7:05 pm, at the Super Summer Theatre at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park, 6375 NV Route 159, Las Vegas NV (on Blue Diamond Road, in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, just north of Bonnie Springs Ranch). The show is currently listed as sold out, but to check ticket availability ($15 general admission) or for further information, go to www.supersummertheatre.org.

Cast:
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: Adam Dunson
Igor: Anthony Barnaby
Inga: Alison Leigh
Frau Blucher: Anita Bean
The Monster: Rik Wade
Elizabeth: Amanda Kraft
Inspector Kemp/Hermit: Greg Korin
Dr. Victor von Frankenstein: Gary Alaimo
Ziggy/Ensemble/Vocal Captain: Joshua Meltzer
Mr. Hilltop/Ensemble: Michael Close
Dance Captain/Ensemble: Monica Johns
Ensemble: April Sauline, Rachel Dawson, Coco Lane Rigbye, Lynsey Fullam, Maxwell Dalvey, Jake Rouse, Ken Haley, Michelle Ray

Additional Creative:
Costume Design by Katie Wicker; Primary Set Design by Steve Paladie; Secondary Set Design by Benjamin Loewy.


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