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A monstrously funny show

SATURDAY, DEC. 17, 2011

If you fancy filthy language, dirty jokes and pure, unadulterated inappropriateness, then “Young Frankenstein” is the show for you.

The touring production of the Mel Brooks musical comedy, based on his 1974 hit film, manages to maintain most of the shtick, cheekiness and zany characters the movie made famous.

Like the film, the show spoofs classic horror films, following Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (that’s FRONK-en-steen), a respected medical lecturer who becomes the reluctant heir to his grandfather Victor Frankenstein’s Transylvanian monster-making laboratory.

A.J. Holmes superbly captures the intensity and insanity of the younger Frankenstein (FRONK-en-steen). His performance is complemented by supporting actors every bit as entertaining as their movie predecessors.

Rory Donovan skillfully portrays the Monster’s extreme sensitivity, toddler-like mannerisms and side-splitting shrieks while Lexie Dorsett dazzles like Madeline Kahn as Elizabeth, the Monster’s red-headed temptress and Frankenstein’s fiancée/tease.

Christopher Timson gives a goofy version of Igor (that’s Eye-gor), Frankenstein’s peculiar-looking, inherited servant. His performance is highly effective, although way more animated and Jim Carrey-like than Marty Feldman’s deadpan interpretation; his Michael Bolton impression during “The Dungeon of Castle Frankenstein” scene is one of the funniest parts of the show.

Inga, Frankenstein’s blond bombshell lab assistant, is played with perfection by Elizabeth Pawlowski. She provocatively yodels the tune of “Roll in the Hay” and emits a never-ending supply of sexual innuendo.

Pat Sibley is fantastic as Frau Blucher, the creepy housekeeper so terrifying that the mere utterance of her name sends horses into whinnying tizzies. Vulgarity flourishes during her uproarious rendition of “He Vas My Boyfriend,” a song about Blucher’s torrid romance with Grandfather Frankenstein.

Fans of the movie will revel in revisiting the rotating bookcase/candlestick and lonely blind man bits, the crass “Roll in the Hay” and “huge knockers” double-entendres, and will be blown away by the show’s Irving Berlin “Puttin on the Ritz” number. The cast brilliantly executes Susan Stroman’s Fred Astaire-inspired tap dance choreography, while suitably dressed in tuxedos and top hats. Among the show’s other notable qualities are top-notch set design by Robin Wagner and stellar lighting effects by Peter Kaczorowski.

Some disappointing aspects include the show’s too-literal interpretation of Brooks’ signature “Walk this Way” gag. Also, its low volume level – some of the lines were hard to hear even from the fourth row, so I can only imagine the audience’s experience from the balcony. This would probably explain why only half of the audience laughed at “The Abby Normal” brain shtick.

Although its success on Broadway came nowhere near to that of Brooks’ “The Producers” – the show spent two years on Broadway, compared to “The Producers” 2,502-performance run – and its melodies are mostly forgettable, “Young Frankenstein” shines in its delivery of comedic fun.

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