Igor (Scotty Oka) introduces himself to Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Chris Eckersley) at the Transylvania Heights train station.
Set aside the notion that good singing is critical to a musical and you’ll find the Chetco Pelican Player’s production of Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein” a satisfying rollercoaster ride of raunchy, raucous humor that doesn’t end until the final curtain.
As one audience member at Sunday’s matinee said, “I’m a big fan of Mel Brooks and this is even funnier!”
“Mel Brooks on steroids” is an apt description for this PG-13 song-and-dance romp that takes the bawdy humor of the original movie and pushes it to new highs (or make that new lows).
Every scene in this slightly over-long show includes a half-dozen puns, jokes, subtle and not-so-subtle sexual innuendo that induce guffaws, giggles and groans. It’s one double-entendre after another!
Not even the song lyrics are safe, as Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory assistant Inga (played to flirtatious perfection by Mariah Wise) fabulously sings “Roll in the Hay,” an ode to lovemaking. Her stalwart yodeling transforms the song into one of many show-stopping moments.
Another musical highlight is “Deep Love,” another ode to lovemaking (sung by Frankenstein’s erstwhile fiance Elizabeth (played by the catty Bre Benning).
As with any type of comedy, timing and delivery are crucial, and this cast of characters delivers. That’s particularly so for Mike Vest, who, as the Monster, grunts, groans and howls his way through each of his scenes. The man expresses so much with just his facial expressions and eyes!
While singing is not his forte, actor Christopher Eckersley is commanding in his role as Dr. Frederick Frankenstein. The doctor resists the pressure to join the family business for only so long before relenting and building a monster much like that of his grandfather Dr. Victor Von Frankenstein (played by Phillip Dolan)
“It’s alive! My monster is alive!” Eckersley yells at the moment of creation.
Actor Scotty Oka is having entirely too much fun as Igor, the hunchback with a hump that migrates from the left side to the right, and finally to the middle. If Oka didn’t steal the show, he came close with one of the best gags about, of all things, sitting in a chair.
The heavy European accents employed by Tommy Jones (Inspector Hans Kemp) and Mary Anne Trailor (Frau Blucher) are sublime, as are their musical numbers. Trailor’s rendition of “He Vas My Boyfriend,” along with several well-timed, heartfelt bosom grabs, is another show stopper.
Even the lonely Hermit (played by Bill Schlichting) gets his own song, skillfully lamenting his need for companionship in the tune, “Please Send Me Someone.” And yes, (spoiler alert) he does find happiness in the end.
And let’s not forget the ensemble crew, each of whom makes at least a half-dozen costume changes in minimal time and hits their marks without a hitch.
The show’s sets, lighting and special effects are stellar, especially that of Frankenstein’s laboratory.
Yes, this musical adaptation of “Young Frankenstein” is an acquired taste. Those who loved the film, and love musicals, should throw caution to the wind and buy tickets.
The show “Young Frankenstein” — It’s Alive!