'Young Frankenstein' hilariously heads into final weekend
By Shanna Fuld, SUNY Oswego, Sophmore writer
Accepting plaudits -- The cast of SUNY Oswego's "Young Frankenstein" acknowledges the audience during a curtain call last week. Lavishly costumed amid a gothic set, the classic Mel Brooks-Thomas Meehan musical-comedy spoof about the grandson of the original Dr. Frankenstein and his reawakened monster has two remaining performances: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 3, and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 4, at Tyler Hall's Waterman Theatre. Tickets are available at all SUNY Oswego box offices, online at tickets.oswego.edu and by calling 315-312-2141.
SUNY Oswego theater department’s production of “Young Frankenstein” by Mel Brooks, opens with the first musical number, “The Happiest Town in Town,” where the audience experiences the lifestyle of the Transylvanians, setting the tone for the rest of the show. The sound effects were excellent, making the show’s opening lively.
The audience thundered with laughter from start to finish. With lyrics like “Though your genitalia has failed you, never has the brain” and lines like “I always thank the bowel when I’m excreting,” in the musical number “(There is nothing like) The brain,” there was rarely any relief for a breather.
Actor Danny Stalter, as Young Frankenstein made a very creepy introduction, though Frankenstein grows to be a very likeable character by the end of the show, a sign of a good script, good direction, and conscious acing choices.
Igor, played by Nicole Marlow, opens the show with the sweet touch of her voice, getting the audience excited for the musical. While the audience is originally smitten by the deformed yet cheerful sidekick character. As the show goes on, Igor’s character falls victim to the tragic fate of comic sidekicks in that she does not peak, making it more difficult for the audience to laugh at the jokes or remain entertained.
The ensemble was a major highlight to the show. The ensemble brought a positive energy to the entire cast, something needed to keep the show fresh in each new scene or musical number. Each member contributed something different to make the musical realistic, as the ensemble played different roles like a family or a group of common villagers.
Ashley Domenech played the role of Frankenstein’s fiancé, Elizabeth Benning. Benning enters the scene in fine clothing to show off her wealth. Domenech brings a particular whininess to the character, which is completely warranted, as the audience is meant to dislike her. Domenech’s opening song “Don’t Touch Me,” had audience members laughing, but not for too long, as this song was a bit excessive and overdone. The ensemble for this song was particularly hilarious, as the characters become very involved in the touching. Spencer Bentresca reels in the most chuckles when he asks his lady friends “please don’t touch me.”
Possibly one of the most impressive actors on stage was Morgan Rae Noone, who played Inga, Frankenstein’s assistant and love interest. Noone held a Romanian accent through the entirety of the show, even in her singing and yodeling, which was exceptional. The chemistry between Inga and Frankenstein was realistic, because Noone was whimsical and fun, while Frankenstein was reserved and geeky. This allowed the audience to have fun watching Frankenstein deal with the nerve-wracking touch of a beautiful woman, especially since his fiancé told him he could only look, not touch.
The best costume was on Frau Blucher, played by Miranda Pan, who also had an impeccable accent, carried that all the way through the show. Pan was clad in a beautiful purple and green dress covered from collarbone to ankle. She entered holding candelabra with her hair in a bun. Pan did an excellent job on her musical number “He Vas my Boyfriend,” which was very telling for the story, as well as entertaining and endearing. At first the audience is confused about her role and her demeanor, but all of this is quickly changed, and the audience begins to really become a friend of Blucher’s.
One of the best musical numbers is “Join the Family Business” in Act 1. This song is full of lines that turn the corners of your mouth up and listening to the lyrics to learn the story. This song is a real turning point for the musical, and is necessary for the rise of Frankenstein’s character, and for advance of the show. The number was full of modern jokes like when the family offers Frankenstein Ovaltine or a Soy Macchiato. The ensemble really had fun with this number. The family showed to be good dancers, as Frankenstein would later remark on when he debates to continue the family’s line of laboratory work. Jacquline Shikora, part of the ensemble, added a great touch to the number with her pirouettes.
As mentioned before, the set and props were put together brilliantly, with a medical bed on pulleys, a big full moon, a chariot, revolving bookcase, and a life-creating monster-making machine. The best tech move made on stage was the painting of Victor Frankenstein that changes to a blank portrait when Victor comes to life.
The effects certainly made the show the success that it was. Sounds that matched to actor movement, or changes in direction on stage made the show just that much more special. It was hard not to laugh every time Inspector Hans Kemp’s mechanical hand moved, as the accompanying sound never got old. Kemp was played by Dan Frohm, who did a nice job of consistently keeping the humor in his role.
The Monster, played by Jared Gould, has no lines (as he cannot speak) until the very end of the show. Without the make up and costuming, which makes Gould look so menacing, it would have been difficult for the Monster to come to life in the eyes of the audience. By the time the Monster had spent a greater deal of time interacting with humans, Gould does a very solid job at showing the rise of the Monster, coming into himself and learning how to control his emotion. He tap dances and wows the audience with his near-muted humor.
The Monster really reveals himself and his personality when he interacted with actor Mike Cothren who played the Hermit, a blind character. This was just another humorous scene that got a laugh after every line, though, if the audience members had not read the Mary Shelley book Frankenstein, viewers might be confused about the Hermit’s character. The scene where the Monster walks into the home of the Hermit, seems abrupt, especially if the viewer did not know the story’s origins. With that, Cothren was extremely convincing as a blind hermit mountain man, and his costuming helped him achieve this.
The show ended, and the audience gave the actors and crew a standing ovation after the bow. Young Frankenstein was a fun Saturday night on the Oswego campus.