Musical Theatre, Classic Film Done Right in ‘Young Frankenstein’
Published: Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 16:10
Translating a film to the stage does not always turn out as one might hope. Throw any doubts about that out the window with Music Theatre Fargo-Moorhead’s current production “Young Frankenstein.” Based on the classic film from 40 years ago, this musical rendition brings Mel Brooks’ monster hit to life onstage with a tremendous score of songs backed by a wildly talented cast.
Many people have seen the ’70s film starring Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, Teri Garr and Peter Boyle, and will remember the various antics and exchanges between the characters (“What hump?”, “Vould you like to have a roll in ze hay?”, “What knockers!”). Dialogue from the film makes it mostly intact into this musical, with several scenes added in and some characters’ roles expanded.
One such character—the imperious Frau Blucher—exemplifies this wonderfully. Angie Schulz is in fine form as the housemaid of Frankenstein Castle. Her role takes on a more important part in this musical, appearing in more scenes and speaking much more than Cloris Leachman did in the film.
Schulz’s voice is something to be admired as well. Frau Blucher’s number “He Vas My Boyfriend” brought the house down on opening night with the live band’s jazzy, almost sexy sounds backing her stellar voice. Schulz gets an extra gold star for playing the part of a character who SHOUTS NINETY PERCENT OF HER LINES. This just proves the power of her vocal strength, and surely her portrayal of Frau Blucher is one that will resonate for a very, very, very long time.
Samuel Krauth’s portrayal of Igor, the affectionate, hunchbacked assistant, is admirable as well. He gets most of the gags in this show, and his number with Frederick “Together Again, for the First Time” is a shining moment for both characters.
Taking up the role of Frederick Frankenstein is Taylor Schatz, who does justice to his character, albeit while wearing a truly awful wig. Did something fall through the cracks in the costume department on this or is the wig supposed to have come from a clown?
This can be forgiven because Schatz does do a marvelous job in singing and speaking as the once-reluctant Frederick Frankenstein (“That’s Fronkensteen!”) as he builds his creation with assistants Igor and Inga. Portraying the latter is Kathy Hanson, a real firecracker who pulls in applause with her number “Roll in the Hay” and her intermittent yodeling.
Another admirable aspect of the cast is Jay Olson’s (The Monster) ability to wear those elevator shoes. Watch for him during “Puttin’ on the Ritz” as he proves how light on his feet he can be, all the while being equally as cautious.
Those are just a few things to look for during this amazing musical. Sure, there are other moments and cast members worth mentioning, but that would spoil surprises. Above all, hang on to the songs, as that aspect is new and fresh to the film story. This is truly a production to go to and simply enjoy, especially since Halloween is here and timing could not be better for this.
“Young Frankenstein” continues its run 7:30 p.m. Oct. 31 to Nov. 2 and 2 p.m. Nov. 3 at The Stage at Island Park at 333 4th St. S. Costume contests will be held following performances on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1. Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and $10 for students. Tickets are available at the box office and at 701-235-6778.