Deemed by the American Film Institute as “one of the funniest movies of all time”, Young Frankenstein was bound to hit the live stage at some point. Finally, in 2007, creator Mel Brooks adapted his 1974 film for stage where, after a premier run in Seattle, the show hit Broadway where Young Frankenstein: The Musical got mixed results. Now, after a couple national tours, the show has found a new temporary home at the Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook. Drury Lane’s artistic director, William Osetek, took on the tough task of taking a show that didn’t exactly set the world on fire for most critics and making it his own in the hopes of making it more entertaining and relatable for the audience. Well, he did exactly that. Emphasizing on family and inner kindness and love, a perfect balance is created that makes the slapstick and silly humor work like a well-oiled machine without ever becoming overbearing. Mel Brooks should be very happy with this production.
Young Frankenstein: The Musical is the latest Drury Lane success story. The show has a slew of funny characters, songs that have plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, creative dance numbers, a stunning set with plenty of sound and visual effects and of course – a monster.
Ashamed of his family business that has gone on for many generations, Frederick “Fronkensteen” has tried very hard to remove himself from anything that has to do with life-giving experiments and his true Frankenstein name, and flees to New York where he becomes a Dean of Anatomy and enjoys lecturing his students on the brain. Shortly thereafter, he learns he has inherited his grandfather Victor Frankenstein’s castle and heads back to Transylvania. He is immediately met by Igor, who comes from generations of castle henchmen and urges Frederick to continue in his grandfather’s footsteps. Frederick picks up Inga, his new bombshell assistant and quickly realizes he is cut from the same cloth as his grandfather. But bringing back the dead is far from a perfect science as he finds out when his monster wakes with the IQ of a grape and shows bits of uncontrolled anger. Hijinks and hilarity ensues as Frederick scrambles to make things right while the townspeople want the monster destroyed.
There are just so many fantastic performances in this show across the board, but Devin DeSantis absolutely hits on all cylinders as “Dr. Frederick Frankenstein”. His comic timing is flawless and he simply takes charge of his role – and has fun with it. Jeff Dumas as “Igor” gets a ton of laughs because – well, the guy is just plain funny, and Allison Still as “Inga” is dynamite, especially when she gets to show off her vast vocal range in “Roll in the Hay”. But you can’t have a worthy production of Young Frankenstein: The Musical without a strong portrayal of the monster and Travis Taylor hit this challenge out of the park. Complete with 4-inch platform shoes, heavy makeup and plenty of bulky padding, Taylor is still able to gracefully dance to perfection in some pretty complicated choreographed routines. Taylor also adds the humor and charm needed to make the role effective.
Young Frankenstein: The Musical is quick witted with plenty of one-liners and silly songs somewhat reminiscent to Spamalot. The humor from the classic film translates well to the live stage because it is performed well and it is ageless. It’s the perfect show to take one’s mind off our record breaking cold winter.
Young Frankenstein: The Musical is playing at Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook through March 16th. Depending on the seat and show, tickets range at a very reasonable $35-$49. For tickets and/or more show information, visit www.DruryLane.com or call 630-530-0111.
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