Thursday, October 7, 2010

Broward Center: Young Frankenstein (4 reviews)

The National Tour of Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein kicked off the Broward Center for the Performing Arts' 20th Season.
Don't miss the sensational cast delivering all your favorite moments from the classic film, plus brand-new show-stopping numbers for the stage, including "Transylvania Mania," "He Vas My Boyfriend" and "Puttin' on the Ritz."  This wickedly inspired re-imagining of the Frankenstein legend follows bright young Dr. Frankenstein (that's Fronken-steen) as he attempts to create a monster--but not without scary and hilarious complications.
Susan Stroman directed a cast that included Christopher Ryan, Preston Truman Boyd, Cory English, David Benoit, Janine Divita, and Joanna Glushlak.

J.W. Arnold reviewed for South Florida Gay News:
...despite its cult status, I’ve never seen the film which made the touring production currently running at Fort Lauderdale’s Broward Center a real treat—I had absolutely no expectations and no comparisons to make, although fans of the film will not be surprised, I’m sure.
The plot is pretty simple (and it lacks the “heart” of The Producers), but it’s Brooks’s zany humor that makes the show such an entertaining treat with rollicking production numbers...
Cory English is hilarious as Igor, Preston Truman Boyd dances his feet off as the monster and Joanna Glushak nails Frau Blucher, but character roles always shine in the hands of capable actors, especially with the challenge handed to Christopher Ryan as Frederick, who delivers a bland performance in comparison. I don’t have to have seen the movie to know that Gene Wilder dished up a subtly disturbed Dr. Frankenstein and that’s a hard task in a 1,200 seat theater.
(psst - JW - the Au Rene Theater has 2,700 seats - ed.)
As is expected with the touring productions Broadway Across America brings to South Florida, Young Frankenstein boasts a large cast of talented singers and dancers and the production values are high.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
With The Producers, the screen-to-stage transformation was inspired, crazy, wildly funny. Young Frankenstein  is shtick-filled and forced, so much so that many in the touring cast push desperately (and in vain) to make so-so material funnier.
A few of the performers manage to hold their own and earn generous laughs: Joanna Glushak as the demented Frau Blücher; Cory English as a cheerful Igor; David Benoit as the blind Hermit; Preston Truman Boyd as the Monster.

In the title role, handsome Christopher Ryan is best when he's doing madcap musical numbers, but that unhinged quality is missing from too many of his scenes. Neither Janine Divita as Frederick's fiancé Elizabeth nor Synthia Link as his sexy assistant Inga has the comedic chops to enrich what have become, on stage anyway, cardboard characters.
Mary Damiano reviewed for South Florida Theater Review:
Young Frankenstein is theatre for people who love movies, or at least love the movie on which it is based. All the characters are here...
The clever choreography and staging by director Susan Stroman takes the film’s beloved Puttin’ on the Ritz number to new heights as a full-blown tap-dancing extravaganza.
The performances in this national tour are strong throughout. Divita is delicious as Elizabeth, both in the first act when she’s discouraging Frederick’s advances and in the second act when she gets a taste of the Monster’s love. Glushak delivers the perfect combination of deadpan expression and simmering passion.  English conjures up images of the great Marty Feldman (the film’s original Igor), but adds a wacky edge that makes Igor his own. Link is wonderful as Inga the innocent Transylvanian temptress.

Ryan and Boyd, as Frederick Frankenstein and the Monster, make quite the dynamic duo...Their scenes together have a wacky sweetness, as they go from creator and creature to best friends and blood brothers
Kudos to Don Daniels for making his few scenes as Ziggy the Village Idiot particularly memorable, and Don Benoit for his terrific turns as both Inspector Kemp and the blind hermit who tries to befriend the Monster.
Fashion editor Ron Hagwood was sent out by the editorially indifferent Sun-Sentinel;
The stage musical version of the 1974 movie classic — also out of the audacious mind of Mel Brooks  — faithfully re-creates whole swaths of the original, beat by beat. It's very hard not to nudge your seat mate with a here-comes-the-part-where-they-blah-blah-blah.  You just wish the otherwise perfectly fine cast had some more room to add their own accents to the Brooksian canon of: happy hokum, streaks of vulgarity and the bounciest score since Vaudeville.
And that's about all you get.  Why doesn't it work?  Was it the material?  The performances?  Either Hagwood doesn't know, or whatever semblance to a proper review this article had was butchered out by the interns that pose as editors at the sad remnants of a newspaper. We just don't learn anything useful from the Sun-Sentinel.  Perhaps that should be on their mast-head.

Young Frankenstein plays at The Broward Center for the Performing Arts through Sunday, October 17, 2010.

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