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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Young Frankenstein: If you have a funny bone in your body...

Roger Pine looms over his fellow players as the monster. He actually dances in those platform shoes!

Howls and screams (of laughter) dominated the spectral atmosphere when Young Frankenstein opened for a limited engagement Friday night in Bryan. Now a regular at The Theater Company, Christopher Rogers plays the straight man among a cast of lovable creeps. A modern-day, kinder-gentler Dr. Frankenstein, he is called back to Transylvania to settle family affairs, only to fall into the same snares as his legendary namesake, THE Dr. Frankenstein.

The rest of the cast is made up of hilarious caricatures, who make great fun out of the Frankenstein legend as they sing, dance and brawl with very respectable artistry, and more importantly a genuine and infectious spirit of fun.

 Christopher Rogers plays Dr. Frankenstein. And that is Fronkinsteen!

Mel Brooks' adaptation of his 1974 cinematic spoof by the same name found a worthy channel of his comic genius in director Randy Wilson, who continues to epitomize my favorite definition of great art; that which requires the least to achieve the most profound results. After twenty years of directing local theater in the Brazos Valley, Wilson seems to prove effortlessly that it does not take huge budgets and high dollar celebrities to produce excellent theater. All it takes is unwavering commitment and willing talent, guided by masterful vision, a combination rare in this world but flowing like a fountain at TTC.

But do not be lured into a trance by my hypnotic accolades... this is adult humor and not a show for the kiddos. If naughty humor offends you, this is not for you. This production is as suggestive, ribald and dirty-minded as Mel Brooks designed it to be- and with hilarious results that he would be proud of.

Adrienne Dobson cutely exudes all that is evil as Elizabeth.

The craftsman-like rendering of this comedy yielded several noteworthy performances and I am forced to limit myself to comment only on a few... Adrienne Dobson is as precious as she is convincing as Elizabeth, a spoiled, contemptible, self-absorbed user, and I decided early that she should be the one destined to be dismembered by the legendary Frankenstein's monster. But in Mel Brook's twisted universe, far more perverse rewards awaited Dr. Frankenstein's frivolous fiance. She maintained her confident narcissism throughout, with the enviable zeal of a mindless teenager. 

Frau Blucher (Cynthia Bradford) ends a scene with a masterful and evocative pose.

Equally unsettling was Cynthia Bradford's version of Frau Blucher, with her evil laughter and hungry fingers, so outrageous were her sexploits that nearby stallions uncontrollably whinny with enthusiasm, at the mention of her name. Bradford cooks her brew with the finesse of a veteran performer, every pose articulated to evoke suspense. Her background in dance continues to reap its rewards.

Igor lights up the monster... and the stage. A poor picture taken by me of a glorious performance by Kent Walters.
But my favorite, hands down was Kent Walters, who gave a truly stellar performance as Igor, the devoted half-witted ghoul, who drops and destroys the superior brain obtained for the monster and replaces it with another... not so great specimen. Walters is so fun to watch, the only thing I can compare him to is the weird spasmodic squirrels who terrorize the cartoon movie Ice Age. Both of them. His expressions, delivery, mannerisms, all come from some place beyond mere script or direction. Walters IS Igor. If he does not love this part, it certainly loves him.

Favorite part? When after Dr. Frankenstein brings the monster to life, he gets throttled within an inch of his life... No good deed goes unpunished.

There is too much to try to write... too bad if you cannot get to see this one... Young Frankenstein was a typical showcase of the surprising reservoir of talent which, with Wilson's skill, consistently brings Broadway to Bryan.

Oh! And the time when the blind hermit pours hot soup on the monster's lap... AAAAUUUUGGGGHHHHH... I'm still chuckling... Good job to all concerned.  


1 comment:

  1. The Theatre Company scores big, again. Very nice review there, Mr. Cushman. Of your theatrical reviewing skills, I'll steal a line from Farmer Hoggett in "Babe."

    "That'll do pig."