REVIEW: 'Young Frankenstein,' a triumph at Playhouse

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  • | 4:00 a.m. April 23, 2015
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The Flagler Playhouse production of “Young Frankenstein” – whose run ends May 3 – is an absolute triumph, unmitigated joy, the best production I’ve experienced by this ever-improving Bunnell theatre company. If you’re lucky enough to find seats still available, grab ‘em,

This production has everything:

Book: A brilliant musical parody (20 clever songs) based on the 1974 Mel Brooks / Gene Wilder affectionate film takeoff of the 1930s classic horror films, based on Mary Shelley’s novel.

Director: Mike Beaman, the theatre instructor at the St. Johns County Center for the Performing Arts (SJCCA) in St. Augustine, does everything so well, starting with selecting and motivating a cast of stars. (His previous credits include “The Producers” and “Urinetown.”)

Music: Full-throated, recorded orchestral accompaniment. Curtis Powell, Director.

Costumes: another Herculean achievement by Nancy Howell.

Props: Three huge roll-ons: including an oversized gurney for The Monster, and the Hermit’s hut. Take a bow, Cynthia and Bill Frederickson.

Cast: Beau Wade (Gene Wilder in the movie) is Frederick Frankenstein, the American grandson of the infamous Victor. A long-familiar face on this stage, Beau carries off this demanding role with charming aplomb.

Bernadette Siudock is personal assistant Inga (Teri Garr). Her youthful, sexy beauty belies her post-college stage experience. She’s marvelous.

Bruce Popielarski as bulging-eyed, hunchback Igor (Marty Feldman) — you’d never suspect he was the handsome lead in “Barefoot in the Park.” He practically steals every scene with his all-out antics.

Robyn Lafferty, in her first-ever on-stage performance, is amazingly perfect as tightly wound fiancée Elizabeth (Madeline Kahn). Watch her go with “Please Don’t Touch Me.” Her “Ah Sweet Mystery of Life,” after a behind-the-curtain sexual rendezvous with The Monster, is a riot.

Janet Liles as candelabra-wielding housekeeper Frau Blucher (Cloris Leachman), brings the house down with every utterance. She knocks the audience out with her rendition (referring to Victor) of “He Vas My Boyfriend.”

Richard Lacey is awesome as The Monster (Peter Boyle), huge (abetted by four-inch lifts) and initially gruesome behind ghastly green makeup, he brings the audience to its feet with the stunning, climactic all-cast, top hat and tails / silverheaded cane production number “Puttin’ On The Ritz.”

Peter Gutierrez, as the stern, gimp-ridden Inspector Kemp, is anything but the funfilled guy we loved in “I Love You, You’re Perfect ...” So too is Everett Clark, who shared the masculine honors with Peter in that recent show. Here he’s completely unrecognizable, barefoot, in rags, behind a huge gray mountain of beard as the blind Hermit (Gene Hackman) who befriends The Monster.

N. DeShawn Matos deserves a lifetime-achievement award of sorts. He’s announced that this is his last show with the Playhouse. What a treasure he’s been over the years. His stunning rendition, as the long-since departed Victor Frankenstein, of “Join The Family Business,” in which he’s joined by the entire ensemble in white fright wigs, is nigh perfection.

And there’s the ensemble – seven in all – wonderfully costumed, energized, coming on in glorious full support. You might recognize Pat Love among them. She’s just stepped down as president of the Board of Directors. Lovely, talented Michele O’Neil, who has captured the hearts of audiences all season long, takes on the heavy responsibilities. Our most sincere thanks to Pat (who stays on as a Director and in charge of the Children's Theatre), with our wish to Michele “Only the Best!”

Call 386-586-0773.



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