If you’re an aficionado of “Young Frankenstein,” Mel Brooks’ hit movie and happen to live in the Kansas City area, then you’re in for quite a Transylvanian treat.
Currently playing at the Kansas City Music Hall through Sunday, February 21, Broadway Across America’s production of “The New Mel Brooks Musical, Young Frankenstein” is better than a trip to Transylvania, and is “pure Mel Brooks.” This should come as no surprise, since the comedy icon not only produced the show, but also co-wrote the book (with Thomas Meehand), composed the music, and wrote the lyrics. Susan Stroman served as director and choreographer.
There’s no better way to get through this wretched winter weather than to take a “Kansas City Getaway” to see this production. The cast is monstrously good (pun intended). Roger Bart, as Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, is unbelievably superb at channeling Gene Wilder, complete with that unmistakable Wilder voice. Close your eyes during one of Bart’s monologues, and you would swear you were listening to the soundtrack of the movie. (In a Q&A session after the opening night performance, Bart compared his remarkable duplication of Wilder’s performance to “listening to a great Beatles album, and then trying to get the songs exactly right when you sing them.”)
The rest of the cast is just as good at bringing the characters of the movie to life. Shuler Hensley, who plays the Monster, does an amazing job of hoofing to “Puttin’ On the Ritz,” while wearing cumbersome “monster shoes.” He endows the Monster with very human qualities, within the confines of the hilariously humongous caricature.
Anne Horak, as curvaceous Inga, steals the show a number of times, with her delightfully naïve, yet self-assured expressions. There is such good chemistry between Anne and Bart that the sizzle of their passion lights up the stage.
Cory English, as Igor, and Joanna Glushak, as Frau Blucher, keep up the spirit of the madcap comedy, with ludicrously exaggerated gestures and dialogue. Glushak brings down the house when she steps to the front of the stage, and waits for a minute, expectantly—then, when no applause is immediately forthcoming, sneers, “You are too kind.”
Hats off to home-grown Kansas City talent, Lawrence Alexander, who dazzles with his dancing in the Ensemble!
The music will have you tapping your toes in your seats. Don’t expect any of the tunes to become venerable classics, but such songs as “He Vas My Boyrfriend” will send you humming out of the theater.
What better way to escape another dreary winter Kansas City day than a date with a monster hit?
“Young Frankenstein” runs through Sunday at the Music Hall. For more information, call 800-982-2787 or go to www.ticketmaster.com or www.broadwayacrossamerica.com