Review: ‘Young Frankenstein’ by Other Voices Theatre

IT ALIVE! Other Voices Theatre brings not only a monster, but also a fantastic evening of laughter, to life with their production of Mel Brooks’ musical Young Frankenstein. If you love Mel Brooks’ comedy, and the movie “Young Frankenstein” in particular, you’ll love this production. Although critics panned this show as a failure for Brooks when it premiered on Broadway in 2007, this production should be a rousing success with audiences. Most of the oft-quoted lines from the movie are included, along with delightful songs and dances that will keep the audience in stitches.

Thomas Bricker (Dr. Frankenstein), Jennifer Pagano ( Inga), David Chiarenza (Igor), and Jessica Graber (Frau Blucher) in 'Young Frankenstein' by Other Voices Theatre. Photo courtesy of Linda Taylor.
Thomas Bricker (Dr. Frankenstein), Jennifer Pagano (Inga), David Chiarenza (Igor), and Jessica Graber (Frau Blucher) in ‘Young Frankenstein’ by Other Voices Theatre. Photo courtesy of Linda Taylor.

Director Susan Thornton and music director Jonas Dawson expertly brought together a zany cast of characters in this high-energy production. Leading the pack, Thomas Bricker as Dr Frederick Frankenstein (pronounced Fronk-en-steen) seamlessly goes from serious doctor and medical professor to mad scientist determined to reanimate dead tissue and bring a man to life, after being pressured to “Join the Family Business” by his late grandfather, Victor, portrayed by Donald Toms III, and a group of leaping, dancing ancestors. Thomas’ facial expressions were priceless and his beautiful voice was well-suited for the role whether singing an ode to “The Brain,” bringing his creature to life in “Life, Life,” or the popular tap number, “Puttin’ On the Ritz.”

David Chiarenza’s comic timing was on point as Frederick’s odd little sidekick, Igor, helping him steal a body and providing him with an abnormal brain for The Monster, after encouraging him to hire him as his assistant in the toe-tapping duet, “Together Again.”

Jennifer Pagano as Inga, Frederick’s lab assistant, was sweet in her naive sex appeal while inviting him to “Roll In The Hay” during a hayride to the castle or trying to relieve his tension by seducing him in “Listen To Your Heart.” As her polar opposite, Shaina Freeman as Elizabeth Benning, Frederick’s high-maintenance fiancée, was perfectly frigid while instructing him not to touch her tits in “Please Don’t Touch Me,” then thawing quickly after “five or six quickies” with The Monster and discovering “Deep Love.” Pagano’s lovely soprano voice soared through the theatre while Freeman demanded the audience pay attention to her as she belted out her numbers.

As Frau Blucher, Jessica Graber portrayed the role of Frederick’s grandfather’s housekeeper to macabre perfection. She brought down the house when she explained that their relationship was more than employer/employee but rather that “He Vas My Boyfriend.”

Will Heyser-Paone was endearing as the seven-foot-tall Monster. Whether singing and tap dancing or meeting the Blind Hermit, his childlike innocence shown through until he met his sexual match after kidnapping Elizabeth.

Dalton Korrell as Inspector Kemp, who had lost an arm and a leg when they were ripped off by Victor’s monster and had to be surgically reattached, hysterically led his band of misfit villagers in an attempt to stop Frederick from making another monster. Tommy Masser played Iggy, the adorable inept village idiot. The ensemble was delightful as they portrayed medical students, ghosts of Frederick’s ancestors, and bumbling villagers, obviously enjoying themselves as much as the audience enjoyed watching them.

Donna B. Grim choreographed spirited, energetic dances to “Join the Family Business” and “Transylvania Mania,” but it was her show-stopping “Puttin’ On the Ritz” that brought down the house.

The cast performs
The cast performs “Puttin’ on the Ritz” in ‘Young Frankenstein’ by Other Voices Theatre. Photo courtesy of Linda Taylor.

Set design by Lee Hebb, lighting design by Steve Knapp, and special effects by Jim McGuire evoked the feel of the comic horror genre well. There were times where sound and light cues were not timed quite right, but I’m sure this will be ironed out throughout the run. Costumes by Maria Boyce, Patty Byrne, Nancy Speck, and Welmoed Sisson and wigs by Jennifer Maschal-Lorms were bright and beautiful. The makeup for The Monster needed to cover all the exposed areas. One of his ears and his hands were not covered, and it was at times distracting. Props were well organized by Pat Dickinson, Samn Huffer, and Jennifer Maschal-Lorms. The show was expertly run by stage managers Jeanne Lloyd and Araminta Finn.

For any fan of Mel Brooks comedy, this show promises to keep you laughing and provide an enjoyable time at the theatre. Other Voices has added additional performances, but if you want to see this production, get your tickets soon as seating is limited.

Running Time: Approximately two hours and 30 minutes, including one 15-minute intermission.

Young Frankenstein, presented by Other Voices Theatre, plays through August 11, 2019, at The Performing Arts Factory, 244B South Jefferson Street, Frederick, MD. For tickets, call the box office at (301) 662-3722 or purchase them online.

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