Young Frankenstein Through September 23, Thursday-Saturday, 7 p.m., $15. Spring Mountain Ranch State Park, 702-579-7529.
A young American escapes his dark family legacy only to be swept back into the fold—we’ve all been there. But for most of us, the family business doesn’t involve reanimating corpses or terrifying Transylvanian villagers. Welcome to Young Frankenstein, Super Summer Theatre’s 2017 season-ender. It’ll pump you up for Halloween with campy comedy, strong performances and perhaps a few scares.
When the 2007 musical debuted on Broadway, chief New York Times theater critic Ben Brantley gave a party pooper of a review, likening the show to “an overblown burlesque revue, right down to its giggly smuttiness.” Okay, wait—in what world is being “bawdy, bouncy and colorful” a bad thing? Perhaps in dreary New York, but it seems perfect for local sensibilities!
Brantley warns readers that the show “does not provide $450 worth of pleasure” (ticket prices reflected the production’s $16 million budget.) Likely so. But Young Frankenstein sure does provide $15 worth of pleasure. Hell, round it up to $20, to include chair rental and a trip to the concession stand ... still, totally worth it. In terms of a pleasure-to-price ratio, this may be the best deal in town. Young Frankenstein is one of the few plays that actually works better with a smaller budget—expensive sets and costumes don’t add much to the storyline or the silliness.
The original 1974 film, by Mel Brooks and the late Gene Wilder, spoofed Old Hollywood horror films. The funny thing about this type of comedy is that it actually requires the most skill. Actors need timing, precision and agility to pull off the gags. Anything less will elicit groans. And this cast excels all the way down to the ensemble, which offers tight dancing (cheers to dance captain Monica Johns).
Adam Dunson is stellar as reluctant mad scientist Dr. Frederick Frankenstein. The Las Vegas Academy alumnus toes the line between channeling Wilder (the film’s Frankenstein) and creating the role anew. Anthony Barnaby shines as Igor, the demented assistant with a wondering hump. Greg Korin does double duty as Inspector Kemp and the lonely, blind Hermit.
The three female leads are a triple threat. They can sing, dance and act with aplomb. Alison Leigh plays the buxom blonde Inga (that hayride scene!). Anita Bean plays the stern housekeeper Frau Blucher. And Amanda Kraft gives a showstopping performance as Dr. Frankenstein’s party-loving fiance (her song “Please Don’t Touch Me” was one of the night’s most memorable moments.
Finally, a note to the venerable folks at Super Summer Theatre. Everybody understands outdoor venues are weather-dependent and monsoon season is unpredictable. But now that the Internet exists, there’s no reason for theatergoers to be driving through windy mountain roads in the rain only to be turned away at the door because there’s no other way to know if the show is cancelled. If you’re rained out, don’t wait to alert social media, and don’t forget to update that outgoing voice message. Fortunately, this show was worth an extra trip.