Forgive me, but I find it impossible not to look to the original Mel Brooks film in my appreciation and enjoyment of the live action musical Young Frankenstein, now being presented by SRO Production III. However, if you never saw it, some of the best movie lines, embellished with music, will delight you as well.
Highlights at Friday’s opening performance (Oct. 24) at the Goodwill Theatre in Johnson City, directed by Scott Fisher:
“Roll in the Hay” with Dr. Frankenstein’s winsome assistant, Inga, played by the bouncy, blonde Jana Kucera, is playful and fun.
“He Vas My Boyfriend,” celebrating the turbulent love affair between Frau Blucher (“neighhhhh”) and her dead lover, Victor Frankenstein, is hilarious and campy, thanks to the comic sensibility of Paula Bacorn.
Mike Clark’s lonely, blind hermit only wants to share a simple meal, complete with wine, cigars and the unrealized promise of an after-dinner espresso with his mysterious guest. His ballad, “Please Send Me Someone,” is touching. Clark’s singing voice is not his strong suit, but he succeeds in his interaction with the larger-than-reanimated life creature, hugely played by Luke Edsel, in his first appearance with SRO III.
Caitlin McNichol has her work cut out for her. Madeleine Kahn’s cinematic Elizabeth is a hard act to follow, and you want whoever plays the untouchable fiancée of Doctor Frankenstein (“That’s FRONKENSTEEN!”) to be as funny and melodramatic as Kahn was. McNichol does it. First of all, she’s beautiful, and so is her singing voice.
My favorite scene in the movie is the Doctor introducing the Monster into polite society as a “man about town.” SRO gives us a fully staged version, complete with chorus girls, of “Puttin’ on the Ritz.” The number includes the entire, wonderful ensemble, choreographed by Ann Szymaniak, Anne Trebilcock and Shelly Krisko.
Mickey Woyshner as the star and title character is energetic, likeable and sheer fun. Keep an eye on this dedicated actor/singer.
Mike Meaney’s Igor adds another layer of comedic silliness to the show, and Rick Kumpon’s Inspector Kemp is fine, too, although he needs a microphone. (Note to the tech crew: Some of the amplification distorts the sound.)
The set was really creepy, and the pieces moved easily between scenes. I loved it! A clever use of animated projections, although visible on the faces of the actors, serves as virtual versions of the backdrops you might find in a bigger venue. Brilliant.
The six-piece orchestra, directed by Cristina Dinella, did a fine job accompanying the cast.
IF YOU GO: Performances are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through Nov. 2 (including Halloween night) at the Goodwill Theatre’s Schorr Family Firehouse Stage, 48 Willow St., Johnson City. Tickets: Call 800-838-3006, or visit sroproductionsonline.com.
No better way to spend a Halloween. Just leave a bowl of candy on the porch for the trick or treaters.