Stage West’s ‘Young Frankenstein’ falls flat

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There have been many adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and quite a few movies and plays that are loosely based on the work. Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein the movie was written in 1974 by Brooks and Gene Wilder, and adapted into a musical that premiered on Broadway in 2007.

Stage West has brought the musical to their stage, to end their season with a comedic horror. The musical hits all the comedic notes, if you have the right funny bone.
Young Frankenstein tells the story of the grandson of the infamous Victor Frankenstein, Frederick (Kevin Dennis) who has returned to Transylvania to take care of recently deceased grandfather’s affairs. He leaves behind his fiance Elizabeth (Adrienne Merrell) but is quickly convinced to take up the family business by his grandfather’s ghost (Kevin Rothery). Assisted by the hunchback Igor (Greg Pember) and the housemaid Frau Blucher (Jayne Lewis) and a special assistant Inga (Amanda Struthmann), Frederick goes about creating his own Monster (Andrew Stevenson) much to the dismay of the townspeople of Transylvania.

Young Frankenstein features such great voices and singing. It’s a shame that Brooks makes sure that all the women who have lines in his musical are diminished and hidden behind roles that are quite simply there to make the men look good, or to sleep with them. All the jokes are at their expense. Whether the comedy is rude or about violence, Brooks makes sure to milk every joke for what it is worth. And it was perhaps funny. The first time.

The cast on stage is quite talented, singing and tap dancing with great energy. Stand out performances are Stevenson as the Monster and Amanda Struthmann as Inga with an outstanding voice. But the material is old, stale and dated, though the tunes are quite catchy. Stage West has great talent on stage. It’s the script that leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth.

Stage West’s production of Young Frankenstein runs until June 26th. More information is available online.

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