Drury Lane's 'Frankenstein' packed full of life, fun
It's been eons since I first saw the Mel Brooks film "Young Frankenstein," but what remains most memorable are the quirky supporting characters (especially Marty Feldman's bug-eyed Igor) and the one-liners (Walk this way).
That's also true of Drury Lane Theatre's production of the musical based on that 1974 film. You might not walk away singing the show's songs, but you'll likely leave smiling thanks to a cast that gleefully embraces Brooks' deliciously demented characters -- humps and all.
"Young Frankenstein"★ ★ ★
Location: Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace, (630) 530-0111 or drurylane.com.
Showtimes: 1:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 5 and 8:30 p.m. Saturday, 2 and 6 p.m. Sunday; through March 16
Running time: About 2½ hours with intermission
Parking: Lot and parking garage
Tickets: $35-$49; lunch and dinner packages available
Rating: For teens and older; contains sexual references and innuendo
Devin DeSantis plays the straight man of sorts: Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, who tries to distance himself from his famous ancestor. But destiny comes calling when his grandfather (Jeff Parker) dies, forcing the young Frankenstein to leave his snooty fiance Elizabeth (Johanna McKenzie Miller) and head to Transylvania to settle the family affairs.
There, he's quickly lured back into the family monster-making business with the help of oddball sidekick Igor (Jeff Dumas), and sexpot assistant Inga (Allison Sill). Completing the freaky foursome is the dour Frau Blücher (Paula Scrofano) -- cue the horses.
They make their monster (Travis Taylor) using a brain Igor snatched. It's from Abby somebody, he tells the incredulous Frankenstein. Oh, ya, Abby Normal.
Brooks' songs are bouncy, bawdy tunes with lyrics that come across like jokes set to music. Thus, you get Frau Blücher's lament, "He Vas My Boyfriend," complete with lyrics like, "Vhen I asked to be his wife, he stabbed me with a kitchen knife. Ach, where did the good times go?"
The good times, in fact, are plentiful in "Young Frankenstein," thanks to William Osetek's savvy direction, Kevin Depinet's detail-filled sets and the cast's spirited performances.
DeSantis makes a convincing transition from milquetoast to mad scientist, but Frankenstein is largely overshadowed by his various sidekicks, particularly Dumas as Igor, a role made famous by Feldman. Filling that cape is no easy task, but Dumas' expressions and timing are so spot-on that he more than lives up to the challenge.
The women -- filling vastly different roles -- delight all around. Johanna McKenzie Miller's formidable pipes bring warmth to the frigid Elizabeth, Scrofano is a comic force as Frau Blücher and Pill, a newcomer, achieves the perfect balance between sweet and sexy as the yodeling Inga.
Clearly, Brooks never embraced the concept of less is more. He piles on the innuendo and double-entendres, and, at times, the show feels like it might have benefited from a trim here or there.
But for Brooks fans, Igor and the other assorted nuts of "Young Frankenstein" are old friends. And at Drury Lane, you'll be happy to be in their company.
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