The Placer Performance Calendar


Great Local Shows - Theatrical Reviews

Title Young Frankenstein
Organization Stand Out Talent
Date(s) of show October 11 - 27, 2013
Reviewer Dick Frantzreb
Review People love this show. Why? First, Mel Brooks’ 1974 movie of the same name has become a cult classic, the kind of movie you want to own and watch again every few years. And this musical version captures so much of what its fans like about the movie.  Then it turns the best comic moments of the film into wonderful, witty songs, and brings those movie memories to life in front of you on the stage.

Predictably, there was so much to like about Stand Out Talent’s send-up of “Young Frankenstein” at last night's opening. Steve Campbell was solid in the role of Frederick Frankenstein, with believable acting, a good comic sense, and quality singing that came through even when his body mic failed for much of the second half of the show. And Jennifer Bortz played to the hilt the role of his self-absorbed fiancée, Elizabeth Benning – with her typical strong singing. Then there was Mary Young as Frau Blucher who put enormous energy into her big number, “He Vas My Boyfriend.”

Indeed, there was strong characterization in many of the parts, but Spencer Peterson’s Igor was truly inspired. To me, he rivaled Marty Feldman’s portrayal of Igor in the movie. Apart from solid acting and singing, the way he moved was brilliant. His antics delighted the audience whenever he was the focus of attention.

This show was all about brains, and no doubt it was the fertile brain of director, Jason Bortz, that helped the actors make the most of the comic potential of the script, adding creative touches that could not have been in the original stage directions. (I’m thinking of the interminable door-locking sounds when Frederick is locked in with the Monster.) There were more wonderful staging ideas that I don’t want to disclose because they will shock you (in a good way) when you see the show. Suffice it to say that one involved brains (again!). Another had to do with what the Monster was capable of. (It was amazing!)

Speaking of the Monster, Joe Calavita – at 6 feet, 10 inches tall – was just about perfectly cast in the part, and he obviously had a lot of fun with it. Furthermore, his costume and make-up were so impressive that, after the show, people were clamoring to have their picture taken with him.

The music was prerecorded, and as she usually does, Jennifer Bortz came through with some exhilarating and creative choreography for numbers like “Transylvania Mania” and “Please Don’t Touch Me” and “Puttin’ On the Ritz.” Predictably, there were some opening night glitches: a scene had to be restarted, and there were often times when the volume of the sound track was such that one couldn’t make out the words being sung. Actually, I was kind of glad of that because it seemed that the lyrics were sometimes too bawdy for the few children in the audience. (Think twice before bringing small children or maybe even early teenagers to the show.)

But none of that takes away from the fun to be had with “Young Frankenstein.” This is now the third time I’ve seen this show in just the past six months, and I’d go again. Each production I’ve seen had something special and unique about it. This one certainly did, and the audience must have agreed, as evidenced by their quick standing ovation when the final bows began.

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