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“Young Frankenstein” is hilarious, enjoyable start to 2010-2011 ASU Gammage season

Dr. Frederick Frankenstein and his monster creation hit Tempe this week with the musical, “Young Frankenstein.” The show runs through Sunday, and I can almost guarantee it will provide a night full of laughs for anyone who attends. The show, based on the Mel Brooks’ film by the same title, follows young Dr. Frankenstein on his trip to Transylvania, Germany after his grandfather, Victor Frankenstein, the mad doctor who created monsters, passes away. Although, Dr. Frankenstein swears that he’s unlike his grandfather, he ends up joining the family business. With the help of his distractingly gorgeous assistant, Inga, his new hunchbacked servant, Igor, and the Frankenstein family housekeeper, Frau Blucher, he manages to bring his very own monster to life — mishap and hilarity obviously ensue. As expected, the most enjoyable part of the show was the comedy. Classic Brooks’ innuendos were present throughout the whole show. In fact, entire numbers focused on some of those innuendos. For instance, when Inga first met Dr. Frankenstein in the film, she was in hay on the back of a cart, and she asked, “Would you like to have a roll in the hay?” In the musical, there was a whole song focused on this question called, “Roll in The Hay.” It was hilarious to hear so many suggestive lines in the play because that doesn’t usually happen on stage. Then again, not all musicals can be Mel Brooks’ productions. The musical featured a lot of silly humor throughout. There were two horses that led the hay cart, but they were played by humans with giant horse head pieces. Simply watching them run and sway their heads back and forth was comical. The fact that their names were Black ‘n’ Decker was so ridiculous that I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. In fact, I found myself laughing out loud continuously, as did most of the audience. The actors were as impressive and as important as the comedy. Each actor’s portrayal was spot on. They became their character, from the village idiot to the monster to Elizabeth (Dr. Frankenstein’s fiancée that he conveniently never mentioned to anyone in Germany) to Dr. Frankenstein. Cory English, who portrayed Igor, was positively brilliant, and he was one of my favorite performers. His comedic timing was spot on, and his voice was impressive. I loved everything about him from his entrance to his ever-changing hump to his flamboyant love for Dr. Frankenstein. Preston Truman Boyd was equally impressive as the Monster. In an earlier interview with The State Press Boyd said, “It’s a bit of a challenge trying to portray acting choices just through grunts and moans and a lot of physical movement when you don’t have text to relay what you’re trying to say.” He met that challenge head on and defeated it. Through his gestures and varied grunts, you could tell when the Monster was confused, angry or scared. Seeing his humane side later in the play added an endearing quality to him that was really nice. The performance of “Puttin’ On the Ritz” with Dr. Frankenstein, the Monster, Inga, Igor, Frau Blucher and the ensemble was a showstopper. The choreography was fun and the Monster’s vocal parts were amusing and kind of adorable. The only complaint I can report had to do with the strobe lights used throughout the production. They had nothing to do with the actors or anything — they were just blindingly bright. However, their use in “Puttin’ On the Ritz” was extremely neat, because they were used so quickly that they actually made the actors into still silhouettes multiple times in a few seconds. I’d have to say that the brilliance of that particular moment of choreography outweighed the few moments of pain in my eyes. I could rave on and on about the songs, the actors, the set, the everything, but I’ll just leave this review with this — go see the musical. It’s a hilarious escape from everyday life that suits people of every age — the comedy of Brooks is timeless. Even if you’re not a musical person, the comedy in the dialogue and songs will offset any dislike for people breaking out in dance and song. Tickets can be purchased online at www., over the phone by calling 1-800-982-ARTS (2787) or in person by visiting the ASU Gammage box office.

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