Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein” stands as one of the comic writer/director’s funniest creations. The 1974 film had more laughs and established more memorable moments than just about any film of the era.
All of that plus a bunch of new music went into Brooks’ adaptation of the film for the Broadway stage in 2007. Now, the Ogunquit Playhouse has opened a production of the classic horror film-based musical comedy in partnership with The Gateway Playhouse of Long Island.
With costumes and sets from the original Broadway show, Jeff Whiting’s direction and choreography recreates the original work of Susan Stroman. The Ogunquit “Frankenstein” lurches into life as a wild and crazy homage that tries hard to reanimate audiences who may be wilting in the summer heat.
The plot concerns Frederick Frankenstein’s attempt to carry on his ancestor’s work in building a living man out of spare body parts. In Transylvania in 1934, he is joined by a nutty bunch of characters, some descended from employees of his grandfather. Frederick’s creation does come to life but has a little trouble being accepted by the townsfolk. Through a series of hilarious adventures, the monster does finally find his niche, not to mention a fiance?
Running jokes keep the laughs coming amid low-tech laboratory scenes and over-the-top dance numbers. The stage smoke does come on a little strong at times but the special effects are generally good.
John Bolton takes the lead role of Dr. Frankenstein. Bolton revealed a fine singing voice at Sunday’s matinee and was able to employ it both for melodramatic and comic effect. On “Man About Town,” leading into the classic “Puttin’ On the Ritz,” in duet with the monster, he became the manic genius with the heart of gold.
His early romantic duet with his fiance?lizabeth, played by Lesley McKinnell, was hilarious. McKinnell was especially delicious as the don’t-touch doll. His later dalliances with his shapely (and limber) assistant Inga, played by Lara Seibert, were also very funny.
Nathan Klau plays the hunchbacked Igor with all the impish ?n one might expect from this classic character and Brad Nacht, as another kind of green monster, offered some funny takes in response to the “normal” people he encounters.
Sandy Rosenberg was a hoot (and a whinny) throughout as Frau Blucher but stood out particularly on her big number “He Was My Boyfriend.” And Tom Souhrada and Jerome Doerger were both good in important secondary roles.
“It’s alive!” and having a fun time in Ogunquit.
Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.