The director's note for Young Frankenstein tells us that Mel Brooks just wants you to have fun!
Well, that's exactly what you will have when you see Riverwalk's Young Frankenstein. Set in 1934 Transylvania Heights, there is nary a false note in the production, beginning with the marvelous Ensemble's The Happiest Town in Town all the way through to the Finale Ultimo. Opening the show, Mark Bethea is a terrific Inspector Kemp, accompanied by the charming village idiot Ziggy, Chris Bethea. With 3rd brother Cameron Bethea in the Ensemble, dinner time must be a hoot in that household.
Leaving his grasping and hilarious fiancee Elizabeth (beautifully played by Veronica Gracia-Wing) behind in America, Josh Martin gives us a prim and proper Dr. Frederick Frankenstein ("that's Fronk- in- steen!") until he meets up with those crazy Castle kids, Inga, Igor and Frau Blucher (somebody restrain those horses!) aka the lovely and talented Kayla Green, James Houska and Jane Zussman.
While I hesitate to single out individuals, I must pause to marvel at the aforementioned James Houska and Jane Zussman. You would be hard pressed to find better performances on Broadway or in the West End. And I've seen considerable theatre in both those places. To see them play Igor and Frau Blucher is an absolute joy.
Kudos to Mark Mandenberg as the departed Victor Frankenstein, Tim Beam as Mr Hilltop and Mark Zussman as the blind Hermit-his rendition of Please Send Me Someone was a revelation - such a beautiful voice. His skills as a host to the Monster, however, leave much to be desired... Speaking of the Monster, they have a great one - Chris Goeckel. The musical number Puttin' on the Ritz is to die for.
The Ensemble was excellent. Hearty applause for Stephanie Banghart, Cameron Bethea, Jennifer Adams Corvera, Angela Dill, Mikaela Gould, Sarah Hayner, Marcus Herndon, Keenan Kangas, Mannon McIntosh, Ric Sadler, Tomie Shauver, Sophia Vitello and Angela Wright.
On the production side, a standing O for Director Tom Ferris, Music Director James Geer, Choreographer Fran Norton, Set Designers Bob Nees and Tom Ferris, Lighting Designer Ted Daniels (loved the lightning!), Costume Designers Kris Maier and Chris Kennedy (Frau Blucher's dress? Big wow!), Sound Designer Roger Nowland and all their teams**. Good work by Ass't Director Merialice Jensen, Stage Manager Rita Deibler, Ass't Stage Manager Daryl Thompson, Makeup Queen Susie Perazza, Hair/Wigs Mistress Rebecca Street and artist Diana Rochowiak for the portrait of family patriarch Victor Frankenstein. Special mention needs to go to whoever created the great "Monster Lift" - no names are given, (sorry. Ditto for the 2 horses- beautiful work. (Editor's note: Bob Nees was the engineer behind the monster-lift - and Kris Maier, I believe, for the horses.)
Have used up all my superlatives. Trust me: go see Young Frankenstein at Riverwalk Theatre.
Other Facebook comments:
Jane Zussman…memorable and outrageous performance as Frau Blucher - David Winkelstern
Young Frankenstein is simply the laugh-out-loud funniest show I've seen there in years, maybe ever. - Matt Ottinger
Kayla, huge props on the yodel dang girl!... - Laura Johnson
Veronica was perfect as the narcissistic Elizabeth. James Warren Houska presented a hilarious character of Igor. His timing was superb. What a gift to be able to do comedy of this nature AND drama! - Laura Stebbins
What a joyful, funny, zany, crazy production of Young Frankenstein - Jane Falion