Forget all hopes of a serious night at O’Connell & Company’s premier of Young Frankenstein, a new musical comedy by Mel Brooks. The comedy mastermind, Mel Brooks, adapts his famous funny film into a brilliant stage creation – Young Frankenstein! If you loved the 1974 Young Frankenstein movie, you’re going to thoroughly enjoy this O’Connell & Company production.
This story-line begins when the Grandson of the infamous Victor Frankenstein, Frederick Frankenstein (Timothy Goehrig) inherits his family’s estate in Transylvania. With the help of a hunchbacked sidekick, Igor (Joey Bucheker), and a leggy lab assistant, Inga (Jenny Marie McCabe), Frederick finds himself in the mad scientist shoes of his ancestors. “It’s alive!” he exclaims as he brings to life a creature to rival his grandfather’s. Eventually, of course, the Monster (John Kreuzer) escapes and hilarity ensues. The night is filled with extraordinary talent from the leads to the small ensemble with larger than life voices and never-ending energy.
Timothy Goehrig plays the role of Dr. Frederick Frankenstein is able to embody the character in an intense and sincere way, while he remains adoring and very comical. His excellent voice works well for the part and the many songs he sings, especially the opening number “The Brain”. Vanessa Dawson plays Frederick’s fiancé, Elizabeth. Dawson does a fantastic job at playing this character who is difficult and repressed, yet still personable. Her beautiful vocal number of “Please Don’t Touch Me,” acknowledges her teasing ways.
Four time Artie Nominee, Joey Bucheker, is an engaging Igor and many times holds the show together with his energy and awareness, while Jenny Marie McCabe is excellent as Inga, Frederick’s attractive and beautiful lab assistant. Jenny Marie proves to be especially proficient at using her very funny and consistent faux German accent. While her accent is quite thick, her words are easily understandable to the audience despite not wearing a microphone for this performance. I’d like to see more of McCabe on the stages across WNY as she has come a very long way earning a nomination for her role in O’Connell & Company’s Little Shop of Horrors.
Particular mention must be made of Pamela Rose Mangus for her portrayal of Frau Blücher. This musical adaptation expands her role significantly. Frau Blücher (Pamela Rose Mangus) sings the solo, “He Vas My Boyfriend,” in which she describes her heated relationship with the elder Frankenstein. Mangus does a magnificent and marvelous job of conveying her character’s feelings in ways which are concurrently touching, disturbing, and supremely funny, enhanced by her use of expressive quirky and comedic timing. My prediction is that Mangus will be honored with an Artie nomination for this role. Mangus is certainly no stranger to the stage, winning many awards including Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical for her role in the Full Monty.
John Kreuzer plays the role of the Monster and he nicely conveys size and strength, but also an unexpected measure of dazzle in which this Tonawanda audience falls in love with. The show is competently backed by a talented ensemble of actors (some returning actors and some debuting the stage) who variously serve as local villagers, backup singers, and dancers for some of the show’s more Broadway-style numbers. Lastly, Inspector Kemp is played by the talented Nicholas Lama who sings “Hang Him ‘Til He’s Dead’. As always, he owns the role nicely. Directors who have the honor of working with this actor, always learn fast that Lama is committed and will work night and day to make his character shine just as he does in this O’Connell & Company show.
The show brings about key leadership for a successful production. Young Frankenstein is directed by Kelli Bocock-Natale, with music direction by the amazing Bret Runyon and choreography by Tara Scime.
The set and lighting design (by Matt Myers and Jim Pritchard) are my least favorite areas of the show. At certain times, actors were left in the dark by poorly managed lighting cues and particular scenes could have used enhanced lighting to make scenes just a little more glamorous. Equally underwhelming was the set design. Simply said, there is a lack of over-all detail.
Location: Young Frankenstein plays at O’Connell & Company, which is located at 3200 Elmwood Ave, Tonawanda, New York 14217
Show Info: Young Frankenstein will play through October 27, 2019. Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 2:30pm
Tickets: $15.00-$30.00; reduced student, senior, military and industry discounts are available.
Ticket Information: Tickets are available at: CLICK FOR TICKETS
or by calling 716-848-0800.
Running time: About 2.5 hours including intermission
Parking: Free adjacent to the Theatre.
BEHIND THE SCENES:
O’Connell & Company Announces Move to Ken-Ton Elmwood Commons
O’Connell & Company has moved the theater company from The Park School of Buffalo to The Ken-Ton Elmwood Commons (formerly Philip Sheridan School) located at 3200 Elmwood The new location at the Ken-Ton Elmwood Commons will more than double the current seating and production capacity. O’Connell & Company is looking forward to reaching new audiences at the new location, where they will produce an exciting variety of productions with local professional actors, musicians designers, writers and directors.