Just the mention of “Young Frankenstein” to fans of this comedy classic elicits hearty laughter and a string of seemingly endless classic puns and lines from the 1974 movie.
The Mel Brooks parody of the 1931 horror film, inspired by long-time collaborator Gene Wilder, is such a favorite, it seems almost untouchable. But, touch Brooks did when he took the movie to Broadway in 2007 with the musical stage production by the same name.
Since then, it has met with less than enthusiast audience approval. After all, how can a stage production ever hold up to the hilarious movie starring Wilder as the young Dr. Frederick Frankenstein?
Well, maybe it can’t. But, then again, in the right hands maybe a musical stage adaptation can add a different kind of voltage to one of Brooks’ most beloved stories.
Obviously, “Young Frankenstein,” which opened Jan. 23 at Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook, is in very capable hands under the inspired direction of William Osetek with brilliant choreography by Tammy Mader.
Devin DeSantis is a spectacular Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, who is appalled by his grandfather’s work of robbing graves and piecing together monsters.
He’s no Wilder, but that’s the beauty of his performance. DeSantis makes this character his own from his first scene as a doctor teaching in a New York medical school.
Upon the death of his grandfather, the original Dr. Victor Frankenstein, Frederick is summoned to Transylvania to settle his estate. Once there, Victor’s ghost, played with aplomb by Jeff Parker, is forever in the background, pulling on Frederick’s family heritage heartstrings.
Frederick is met by Igor upon his arrival and they instantly become strange friends, as is demonstrated in their fun and funny duet, “Together Again for the First Time.”
Jeff Dumas is absolute perfection as Igor, the friend and assistant to Frederick who never misses a beat in delivering side-splitting lines, expressions and antics.
Of course, Igor has brought along a temptress of a medical assistant for Frederick, Inga, portrayed by the fabulous Allison Still who makes her first of what will hopefully be many appearances on the Drury Lane stage.
Paula Scrofano delivers a superbly hilarious performance as Frau Blucher, most notably in her solo of “He Vas My Boyfriend.”
Johanna McKenzie Miller plays the frigid Elizabeth, Frederick’s fiancée, who will ultimately have a change of heart on the idea of intimacy.
The Monster, played to awkward perfection by the agile Travis Taylor, does not miss an enormous step as he and the cast wow audiences with his classic tap dance to, “Putting on the Ritz.”
Choreographer Mader has put together a monster of a dance sequence where the cast shines in this as well as in the many other dance routines including “Join the Family Business.”
This is all backed up and enhanced by the dynamic orchestra with music direction by Roberta Duchak.
Another spectacular and hilarious scene is “Transylvania Mania,” where Igor gets the angry townspeople to join in his new craze of a dance (as he makes it up) to distract them from the growls of the newly energized monster in the mansion.
Other stand-out performances are delivered by Scott Calcagno as Inspector Hans Kemp and the Hermit, Sean Effinger-Dean as Ziggy.
Set design by the talented Kevin Depinet, especially the laboratory, is amazing.
Prepare for a wildly entertaining and electrifying night of fun and laughter with this highly recommended show.
“Young Frankenstein” runs through March 16 at Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace. For tickets and information contact the box office at 630-530-0111 or visit the Drury Lane Theatre website.