There’s not much difference between creating a monster and creating a monster hit. Take for example “Young Frankenstein,” the musical currently in the hands of 3-D Theatricals.
Needed first and foremost are good raw materials.
The raw materials from which Mel Brooks created the 1974 film “Young Frankenstein” (co-written with Gene Wilder) and his 2007 Broadway musical (book by Brooks and Thomas Meehan, music and lyrics by Brooks) are the Mary Shelley novel and the folk legends from all cultures, in which tales of our dear departed are reanimated.
Here, Frederick Frankenstein, dean of Anatomy at New York’s Johns, Miriam and Anthony Hopkins School of Medicine (these are the jokes, folks), gets word that he must head for his ancestors’ Transylvanian castle. Frederick vows to never take up his grandfather’s grave-robbing, dead-defiling ways. But, this being musical theater, he does, and he does so with big results.
Keeping his actions from being noticeably illegal, immoral and nauseating are the show’s outsize characters, bubbly songs and brisk staging. Still, as in building a human from lifeless scraps, it takes a steady hand and strong sense of purpose to work with the raw materials.
David Lamoureux directs here, re-creating Susan Stroman’s original Broadway direction. His cast is a delight, and he builds momentum as each character is introduced.
The excitement starts with Dino Nicandros as Frederick Frankenstein. Nicandros has a gorgeous singing voice. He is also an elegant, agile dancer and strikes a nice balance between the complacency that made the film’s star Wilder a cult favorite and the freneticism one would expect of a man in Frederick’s quandary. You may also notice more Brooks than Wilder in his expressions and reactions.
Then comes Ashley Fox Linton as Frederick’s “adorable madcap fiancée.” Linton plays her as a 1930s glamour-puss in “Please Don’t Touch Me.” She returns, fortunately, in Act 2 to fall for the…