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April Boyle

April Boyle is a freelance writer from Casco. Follow her on Twitter: @ahboyle

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Posted: August 11, 2015

‘Young Frankenstein’ by Maine State Music Theatre has sensational dancing, stunning special effects

Written by: April Boyle

For its final production of the season, Maine State Music Theatre is going all-out with a big-budget rendition of “Young Frankenstein.” Sensational choreography, stunning special effects, gorgeous sets, hilarious antics and a charming cast make this outlandish musical comedy downright electrifying.

The musical is the comic brainchild of Mel Brooks, and is based on his 1974 film, starring Gene Wilder as Frederick Frankenstein. Like the film, the 2007 Broadway musical is an affectionate spoof of the 1930s-era horror film genre.

By revamping the film into a musical, Brooks widened his comic net, paying tribute to countless musicals like “Showboat” and “Fiddler On The Roof.”

There are so many jokes and puns in “Young Frankenstein” that is impossible to catch them all. And Maine State Music Theatre masterfully ups the comic ante by adding inside jokes for its patrons. The audience cracked up laughing opening night when a sign detailing Maine State Music Theatre’s 2016 season (“Ghost,” “Evita,” “Fiddler On the Roof” and “Mamma Mia”) appeared in the background, with the heading “Transylvanian State Music Theatre 1936 Season.”

Director and choreographer Marc Robin has assembled a phenomenal cast and crew to bring Brooks’ off-the-wall comedy to life. Jeremiah James and Robert Creighton head up the cast as Frederick Frankenstein (pronounced “Fronk-en-steen) and his henchman, Igor (pronounced “Eye-gor”). The two Broadway actors bring star-power to the stage, offering a mesmerizing combination of dead-on comic timing, well-executed vocals and dazzling dance moves.

Missy Dowse and Jessica Lee Goldyn light up the stage as Frederick’s lab assistant, Inga, and fiancée, Elizabeth. The beautifully voiced Dowse plays off of James and Creighton, capitalizing on her stereotypical character. “Roll in the Hay” was an audience favorite opening night, as Dowse yodeled while bouncing around in the back of a “horse”-drawn cart with James and Creighton.

“Please Don’t Touch Me” showcased Goldyn’s acrobatic dancing, featuring her back flipping across the stage.

Charis Leos plays Frankenstein’s housekeeper, Frau Blucher, and David Girolmo doubles as Inspector Kemp and the hermit that befriends Frankenstein’s monster. The two have some of the production’s most outrageous lines, and they deliver them with flawless timing and straight-faced looks. They both also deliver gorgeous vocals that defy the ridiculous lyrics.

Timothy Hughes is a sight to see as Frankenstein’s monster. The 6-foot 6-inch tall actor towers over his costars in 7-inch platform shoes that make him over 7-feet tall. And, his ability to tap-dance in 4-inch platform shoes is astounding. Hughes, backed by an amazing 17-member ensemble, received a standing ovation opening night for a jaw-dropping performance of “Puttin’ on the Ritz.” The number was one of three sensationally choreographed dance numbers.

Paul Aguirre and Steve Gagliastro round out the cast as Victor Frankenstein and Ziggy.

“Young Frankenstein” is as gorgeous as it is hilarious. Kyle Melton has crafted a stunning set, featuring painted backdrops and an immense castle, complete with a spooky lab and suspended lab table. Enhancing mood lighting and effects from Jeffrey S. Koger, a gothic soundscape from Brett Rothstein, captivating projections from Dan Efros and eye-catching costuming from Kurt Alger add to the production’s overall wow-factor.

It is all topped off with a lush period score, under the direction of Samuel Thorne Bagala, and unbelievable choreography from Robin and the production’s dance captain, Buddy Reeder.

Be forewarned that “Young Frankenstein” is Mel Brooks at his best, with sexual situations, adult language and clever repartee. Maine State Music Theatre makes this comic “roll in the hay” both a laugh-out-loud treat, and an unforgettable tribute to the by-gone era of monster movies.

THEATER REVIEW
WHAT
: “Young Frankenstein” by Maine State Music Theatre
WHERE: Pickard Theater, 1 Bath Road, Brunswick
DATE REVIEWED: August 6; runs through Aug. 22
TICKETS: $46-$70 ($43-$67 seniors matinees only)
CONTACT: 207-725-8769; www.msmt.org

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