I spent an enjoyable afternoon with my friend Paula at the Walnut Street Theatre’s production of Young Frankenstein.
It was fun and I enjoyed it, but I mostly smiled my way through the first act, as almost all the jokes and business were the same as in the movie, which I must have seen I-don’t-know-how-many times.
The songs were mostly ok with a couple outstanding meetings of material and performer, such as Mary Martello’s rendition of “He Vas My Boyfriend” (from which you can probably tell that she played Frau Blücher).
In the second act my smiles finally turned to laughter during the hermit scene. I mean, how can one not?
And there were a few more chuckles along the way.
All the big scenes and jokes that I remembered from the movie were there with the exception of the creature’s interaction with the little girl, which makes sense, as the payoff of that scene would have been very difficult to stage.
It was telling that the best musical number was written by Irving Berlin, “Puttin’ on the Ritz”, which was elaborated into a full scale production number with the whole company tap dancing their hearts out. It got the biggest ovation too.
The cast was uniformly excellent, no nits to pick there in either the major or minor roles. Ben Dibble couldn’t have been better in the title role, and Luke Bradt was perfect as his assistant Igor. Alanna J. Smith was his other assistant Inga, and Casey Elizabeth Gill made the most of the smaller but meaty part of his fiancé. Dan Olmstead was suitably clumsy at first as The Monster and smoothly made the transition to refined intellectual when the time came. Fran Prisco was fine in the thankless role of the Inspector and hilarious in the all too brief part of The Hermit.
As I said, I enjoyed myself, and from the sound of their reactions the rest of the audience did as well.
Addendum: Oops! Forgot to mention that the sets and costumes were brilliant. In fact in one scene for a moment I thought there were real horses on the stage!