On a very cold January night, with the fear of snow and more snow heading our way, escape is what we seek. There is no better place to escape to than Transylvania, which has now taken over the stage area at Drury Lane Oakbrook to bring us the absolutely hysterical “Young Frankenstein”, the Mel Brooks classic movie made into a musical. The book by Mr. Brooks , who also wrote the music and the lyrics along with the genius Thomas Meehan takes the movie into a new place and the production, under the direction of William Osetek, with slick choreography by Tammy Mader and musical direction by Roberta Duchak is far superior to that which we saw “downtown” representing the “Broadway Version”.! What a difference!
While we all know that Mel Brooks is a crazy guy with an ability to bring “spoof” to a new level, when the original production of this show came to town, those of us who adore the movie felt that we were missing some of the key elements. How do you duplicate a Marty Feldman,Gene Wilder,Cloris Leachman,Peter Boyle ,Madelyn Kahn, etc cast? It can’t be done! However, in this production, Osetek has found some amazing people to make these characters feel fresh and to make this spoof, not a spoof of a spoof, but instead, a theatrical experience that will have you laughing your _ _ _ off ( or some other part).
If you do not know the story, shame on you, but it is about a young noted doctor, Frederick Frankenstein ( a delightful performance by Devin DeSantis who will have you saying Gene who?) who is the grandson of THE Doctor Victor Frankenstein who as we recall tried to bring a dead person back to life and created a monster. “Young Frankenstein” learning that his grandfather has passed away, leaves New York and his fiance, Elizabeth ( a glorious turn by Johanna McKenzie Miller) to claim his estate in Transylvania. There he meets his lackey, Igor ( pronounced eye-gor). This is, for an actor the “character role of a life time” and Jeff Dumas equals the task set before him. He handles comedy to perfection and almost makes you feel that Mel Brooks created this role for him.
What follows is an adventure where “Young Frankenstein” decides to take on his grandfathers cause and “Join The Family Business”. He does, with the aid of his lab assistant Inga ( the divine newcomer to our area Allison Sill) and his Grandfather’s housekeeper, Frau Blucher ( an amazing job by Paula Scrofano). The “monster” ( it is worth the price of a ticket just to watch Travis Taylor in this role.when he does “Puttin’ on the Ritz”, a tap dancing special number, you will want to text your friends to run and order their tickets now!).
This show is pure escape and just a fun night out at the theater. You will not find yourself digging into the plot, or trying to figure out the characters. You will find yourself forgetting about the outside world for two and a half wonderful hours of madcap comedy. There is also a standout performance by Scott Calcagno who plays the Inspector and the Hermit ( the “Please Send Me Someone” scene is another show stopper). While , for the most part, the music in this show is not memorable,( “Puttin’ on The Ritz” is the one you might hum as you drive home), there are some fun numbers such as “He Vas My Boyfriend” that Scrofano “nails” and the adorable ” Together Again, For The First Time” that brings Desantis and Dumas together as they meet, and “Deep Love” and “Sweet Mystery of Love” when Elizabeth and The Monster get to know each other ( there is a lot of “adult” humor in this show, so leave the kids at home for this one).
The design team adds to the richness of this production with a solid set (Kevin Depinet), lighting (Lee Fiskness),Sound ( Ray Nardelli), props (Nick Heggestad),Costumes ( Erika Senase and Maggie Hofmann) and Ben Johnson and the Drury Lane Orchestra of seven sound life a 28 piece orchestra as they bring this music to life. If you love the movie version, and you walk into the theater with an open mind, you will walk ( or dance) out with a new love. If you have never seen the film, all the better, you will have a wonderful experience. You only have until March 16th to make the trip to Transylvania at Drury Lane in Oakbrook with a performance schedule of:
Thursdays 1:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Fridays 8 p.m.
Saturdays 5 and 8:30 p.m.
Sundays 2 and 6 p.m.
Tickets range from $35 ( a bargain for theater this powerful) to $49 and lunch/dinner packages from $50-$74.
To order yours , you can visit the box office/theater located at 100 Drury Lane just north of The Oakbrook Center, call 630-530-0111, Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000 or online at www.drurylane.com
There is plenty of free parking or valet parking is available.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Young Frankenstein”