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REVIEW: "Young Frankenstein" at Old Library Theatre


By Adam F. Cohen


originally published: 10/22/2016

REVIEW: "Young Frankenstein" at Old Library Theatre

Mel Brook’s musical catalogue is receiving vital revisals this fall with Papermill Playhouse’s “The Producers” and Old Library Theatre’s “Young Frankenstein.”  And what a welcome both are.  Just in time for Halloween, Old Library presents a lively new production directed by Jeffrey Fiorello.   Head over to Fair Lawn, avoid the rain and fall chill for the opportunity to treat Brooks’ characters and his fans to more of what they crave: splashy numbers full of Borscht Belt humor, bawdy double-entendres and plenty of dance breaks.

For those new to “Young Frankenstein” the plot concerns the death of famed monster creator Victor Frankenstein and the leaving of his estate to grandson Frederick (Scott Baird).  Frederick, a brain surgeon, wants nothing of his family legacy  and distances himself from his family’s reputation by pronouncing his name “Frahnkensteen.” Curiosity gets the best of him and he leaves New York and his fiancé Elizabeth (Hannah Schroeder).  Arriving in Transylvania, Frederick meets his yodeling comely lab assistant Inga (Kate Pentek), hunchback henchman (Brendan Joel Bartlett), and Frau Blucher (Judi Laganga) the estate’s sinister, twitchy housekeeper, whose very name affrights the horses. That first night, Frederick is visited by a ghostly chorus of Frankenstein forebears. “I dreamed about my ancestors and they were so crazy!” he shudders upon waking. “But boy, could they dance!”

When Frederick stumbles upon Victor’s secret lab (a visual treat by Gabe Weiss), he can no longer resist his birthright and sets about to create a new monster genius (Danny Egan). 

Fiorello’s production is sprightly with engaging performances.  Frederick is basically a straight man, Baird brings a well sung geniality to the role. Led by a strong singing cast, each actor creates a distinct character and earns their laughs.  Schroeder’s Elizabeth is winsome, vain and hits all the right comedic notes as Frederick’s “adorable, madcap fiancée,” who later finds “Deep Love” with his unholy creation.

Barlett’s Igor is filled with impressive physicality, humor, great singing, and malleable comedic expression.  Pentek’s Inga is comely with a beguiling singing voice. This is an impressively sung production – especially in the group numbers so kudos to musical director Charles Santoro.



 
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Old Library’s “Young Frankenstein” is sprightly fun with humor and singing that warms the bones.  It runs through next Sunday, October 30th at the George Frey Center for Performing Arts in Fair Lawn.  More information at oldlibrarytheatre.net




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