It’s pronounced Fronk-en-steen
Like science, the theater teaches us to accept our successes as well as our failures with quiet dignity and grace.
That statement is completely absurd, of course, as fans of the 1974 Mel Brooks classic “Young Frankenstein” know well. It’s a story of the ages, covering all genres: romantic comedy, sci-fi, horror, drama.
And now… musical.
Allen Community College Theatre presents “Young Frankenstein” at 7:30 tonight at the Bowlus Fine Arts Center, and again on Friday and Saturday.
ACC stage veteran Austin Wickwire leads the cast as Dr. Frederick Frankentein (it’s pronounced Fronk-en-steen), an esteemed and eccentric professor ashamed of his heritage as heir to a Transylvanian estate made both fah-mous and in-fah-mous by his great-grandfather, Dr. Victor Frankenstein (it’s pronounced Frank-en-stine).
Austin Wickwire (Dr. Frederick Frankenstein) awakens the monster in Jake Anderson during Allen Community College’s “Young Frankenstein.”
Wickwire, with his unruly mop of hair and thick goggles, provides just the right touch of gravitas and slapstick as the reluctantly mad scientist. He’s respectful in his lust for a tantalizing but distant fiance, Elizabeth Benning, portrayed by Carolyn Appleton, who knows just how to tease and taunt while remaining regal and chaste as she sings “Please Don’t Touch Me.”
The death of his great-grandfather takes young Frankenstein to a Transylvanian castle filled with a zany cast of characters:
Austin Wickwire reacts to learning Julius Hodges’ Igor gave him an abnormal brain. “Young Frankenstein” debuts tonight at 7:30 at the Bowlus Fine Arts Center.
— Julius Hodges as the shifty-humped Igor (it’s pronounced Eye-Gor), a role that pulls humor from every slumping, sliding inch of his cape-draped body and expressive facial features;
— Kate Huskey delights as the buxom Swedish “personal assistant” whose classic movie line, “Roll in the Hay,” has become a fun traveling song;
— and Zohrehya Masuch, who is seriously frightening as the dominating servant and paramour of the late Victor Frankenstein. Saying her name makes horses neigh in fright (trivia time: that’s because her name means “glue” in German).
Wickwire’s character is convinced to “Join the Family Business” by an ensemble of ghoulish ancestors led by the devilish Judd Wiltse as Victor Frankenstein.
As Wickwire describes: “They were all so terrifying but, boy, could they dance.”
An attempt to reanimate a corpse doesn’t go quite according to plan, as Igor delivers the wrong brain: “Abby Somebody. Abby Normal.”
“Are you trying to tell me I just put an abnormal brain into a 7-foot tall, 4-foot wide gorilla?” Frankenstein rages.
The Monster, an ideal casting with the hulking Jake Anderson, escapes to terrorize the town. The villagers are led by local constable Inspector Hans Kemp, played by an intentionally stiff-armed and -legged Brendan Rogers and Ziggy, the village idiot, portrayed by a romping Hayden Hermann.
The blind Hermit (Parker Smith) begs “Please Send Me Someone” and tries to befriend and feed the monster but only succeeds in making a bad situation worse.
Ausin Wickwire (Dr. Frederick Frankenstein), The Monster (Jake Anderson) and Kate Huskey (Inga) perform the iconic number, “Puttin’ On the Ritz,” during ACC’s “Young Frankenstein.”
IT TAKES love to soothe the savage beast, as the second act proves. Appleton returns to find her fiance smitten with his assistant, and is transformed by an encounter with The Monster.
Frankenstein embraces his heritage and his creation, setting up one of the most iconic song-and-dance numbers to ever grace the silver screen or stage: “Puttin’ On the Ritz.” Anderson shines with bumbling yet somehow elegant dance moves, and Wickwire displays just the right note of cheesy panache.
Carolyn Appleton (Elizabeth Benning) bonds with The Monster (Jake Anderson).
Spoiler alert for the two or three audience members who haven’t seen the movie: There’s a happy ending (and, yes, that’s a double entendre; the show is full of them). Be prepared for some sexually suggestive scenes.
Also, be prepared to feel a little nostalgic. The musical stays faithful to the movie version with the addition of a full slate of songs to propel the story. All your favorite lines are there:
“Walk this way.”
“Put the candle back.”
“I can help you with that hump.” “What hump?”
THE PLAY is directed by ACC’s longtime theatre director Tony Piazza, who said he chose it because of an abundance of talented male actors in this year’s theater crew. Indeed, the ensemble actors allow for a full menu of dancing villagers who elevate transitional numbers like “Welcome to Transylvania” and “He’s Loose.”
The digital background honors the film’s homage to classic monster movies, setting up striking black-and-white scenes in a castle, forest, village and laboratory.
It’s the cast of characters who deliver the color — and the heart — of this delightful romp.