‘Young Frankenstein’ is monster hit for Playhouse
By Eric McCrea
The Youngstown Playhouse continued its amazing 93rd season with the incredible opening night of “Young Frankenstein.” The musical, adapted by Mel Brooks from his film of the same name, is a thrilling, campy comedy that plays perfectly in October.
Young Frederick Frankenstein, played by Denny Monroe, is a young anatomist trying to evade the notoriety behind his family’s name, when he receives word that he has inherited the estate of his recently departed infamous uncle.
Upon arrival in Transylvania, Frederick stumbles upon his uncle’s research and becomes obsessed with creating his own Monster, played by Kaleb McFarland. Unfortunately, the villagers aren’t a big fan of the doctor’s accomplishment, and Frankenstein must prove that his creation can be civilized.
Director John D. Holt wrangled a young cast into a hit. He chose not to put microphones on his actors, which was a gamble that paid off.
Monroe had a solid voice and didn’t miss a beat in the lyrically dense song “The Brain.” He was youthful and adventurous, which made for an up-tempo show.
Sarah Jane Demetruk played Frankenstein’s laboratory assistant Inga, and she impressed early in the show with a very athletic “Roll in the Hay.” She kept expectations high throughout the show.
McFarland was outstanding as The Monster. His ability to create so much character without relying on dialogue was pretty advanced, and he was hilarious during “Puttin’ on the Ritz.”
John Cox made a cameo to remember as the Hermit. His timing and interpretation were perfect, and his song “Please Send Me Someone” was one of the show’s best. His scene with McFarland was a take from the film, but they made it work better on stage.
Makenzie Moorman won the audience over with her solo “Deep Love,” demonstrating vocal and comedic ability simultaneously.
John Monroe was an undeniable standout as Igor. His performance was high energy and hysterical, which he made apparent early in the show with “Together Again.” The role of Igor is challenging because of the posture, but it worked like a charm for the dynamic actor.
Terri A. Wilkes was spot on as the curmudgeonly Frau Blucher. She was able to build tension with a formidable glare and devious makeup.
A flawless ensemble, featuring more than 20, had precise harmonies. Large show-stopping numbers such as “Join the Family Business” and “Transylvania Mania” were successful chiefly due to the ensemble. They filled the stage confidently and cleared it efficiently.
Also noteworthy were Dave Wolford as the often misunderstood Inspector Kemp, Alan McCreary as the spectral Victor Frankenstein and Paul Dahman as the multifunctional Ziggy.
Lighting and sound effects as well as fun costumes made this show the complete package. This one should not be missed.
“Young Frankenstein” can be seen Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. For reservations, call The Youngstown Playhouse at 330-788-8739.