Young Frankenstein: The Musical
I have been privileged to review some of Broadway’s premier performances at some of Atlanta’s premier venues. The professional sets, actors, sound, lighting and the like add great polish and pizzazz to these productions.
Seeing a major show done with high professional ability at these levels has become a given when I go to see them -- there is almost a bored expectation associated with them. Not that they aren’t deserving of any accolades or praise (or that some of them don’t stink), it’s just that the bar is usually raised to a higher degree of skilled talent.
That’s why when I am asked to review a show of a community theatre troupe my interest is usually piqued. I am more aware and appreciative of the talent that these individuals typically display. And yet again my hopes were not dashed as I watched the unfolding gift of Onstage Atlanta’s rendition of "Young Frankenstein: The Musical."
Based on the 1974 Mel Brook’s movie, "Young Frankenstein: The Musical" offers the same comic genius of the movie. In fact, it is just the movie’s highlighted scenes played out with jaunty music and dance numbers weaved into the mix.
The play doesn’t skip a beat and includes such memorable, humorous scenes as the "put the candle back" and Dr. Frankenstein’s girlfriend Elizabeth’s "Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life" serenade after bedding down with the monster himself. And of course let’s not forget the famous song and dance "Puttin’ on the Ritz" number performed by Dr. Frankenstein and the monster.
While I do appreciate the novelty of it all, as I have said in past reviews of similar shows, I am not a particular fan of Broadway’s remake of already existing movies -- I tend to like more originality. However, the show does add its uniqueness through the music and dance numbers, but even more, through its sheer talent of the local artists who brought it to life.
For starters, I was thoroughly entertained by the show’s lead character Dr. Fredrick Frankenstein played by Jeffery Brown. Brown does a remarkable job creating the antics originally played in the movie by Gene Wilder. His talent goes beyond mere impersonation, as he comically and effortlessly belts out such complicated and whimsical numbers as "The Brain" and "Together Again for the First Time."
I also enjoyed the performance of Olivia Kaye Sloan, who portrayed Dr. Frankenstein’s self-absorbed, bombshell girlfriend, Elizabeth. Sloan can sing and dance. Her vocal renditions only add to her character’s image as a cock-tease as she professionally belts out "Please Don’t Touch Me" with the same vigor as any leading lady of the stage.
I must also mention the performances of Cathe Hall Payne who played Frau Blucher (cue horse neigh) and Misty Barber who portrayed the sexy Bavarian lab assistant, Inga. Payne delivers her character up in such delicious comic moments that nicely spice up each scene -- her rendering of "He Vas My Boyfriend" was priceless.
Barber’s performance was captivating. I sat in awe as she sang and danced her way through each scene with the finesse and perfect pitch of any Broadway caliber performer, including her impressive yodeling job in the number "Roll in the Hay!"
While I appreciated all the combined talents of the main cast as well as the expertise of the ensemble, I must give my highest shout-out to Daniel Pino, who played the role of Igor. His delivery of this quirky character captured it all. If you’ve ever been to a show and there is one particular individual who stands out above the rest, this was Pino. His dancing was fluid and effortless; his singing was phenomenal yet pleasantly understated; his acting was skilled and all too believable (not to mention oh so humorous) -- he was a tour de force of talent. I hope to see what he can do in other productions.
As I mentioned earlier, I am always inspired on some level with the expert rendering of Broadway shows as they pass through Atlanta’s more professional venues; however, when I see the unbelievable talent that is right here in our own backyard modestly being showcased through local theatres such as Onstage Atlanta, I am truly impressed.
If you get the opportunity to support your community theatres, do it. There is always a surprise or two to make your evening a delight. And by all means, please go and see the hilarious "Young Frankenstein: The Musical" while it’s still around to enjoy!
"Young Frankenstein: the Musical" plays through Aug. 17 at Onstage Atlanta, 2969 East Ponce de Leon Avenue, Decatur, GA. 30030. For info or tickets, call 404-897-1802 or visit www.onstageatlanta.com.