Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast

Young Frankenstein
The Players Theatre
Review by William S. Oser | Season Schedule

Also see Bill's recent reviews of Book of Days and Assassins


Jessica Tasetano, Mark Athridge, and Ross Boehringer
Photo by Cliff Roles
The Players continues its 2016-17 season with Young Frankenstein. This is not the first time this musical has been done in this area; Manatee Players produced the area premiere in 2013. After the mega success of The Producers, Mel Brooks (music, lyrics and book), Thomas Meehan (book) and Susan Stroman (director/ choreographer) decided to musicalize another of Brooks' movies, but this one did not meet with the same audience approval. In truth the subject is less suitable for musical treatment and the whole project does not have quite the same zing.

The Players and director Jared E. Walker have put together a strong cast. If Mark Athridge doesn't dominate the stage the way a central character should, I think the problem is not his performance. The character, tailored to the unique talents of Gene Wilder, spends almost the entire movie reacting to the zany characters around him rather than being the catalyst for the action. The character of Dr. Frederick Frankenstein does not get a decent song, which would humble any actor playing the role, and Mr. Athridge is costumed in the most hideous fright wig imaginable. Now, it's true that Dr. Frankenstein is more of a comic role than a true romantic lead, but he is still the hero. Perhaps Mr. Athridge's good looks could have been softened with makeup rather than a make-over. He sings as well as his lousy songs allow him to and he dances very well.

The female side is represented by Jessie Tasetano as Inga, Melissa Ingrisano as Elizabeth Benning, and Jolie Cannon as Frau Blücher. All give fine comic performances, helped by far better songs than allotted to our hero. Seeing this production has caused me to make a resolution for the rest of my life. I will never share a stage with Ross Boehringer, who plays Igor. I have been a fan of Mr. Boehringer, but here with some of the best material, he sweeps everyone off the stage whenever he has a big moment. This is the best performance I have seen him give, he just needs to pray that he isn't convicted of grand larceny for theft of an entire production. He launches the act one closer "The Transylvania Mania" so as to send it soaring when the rest of the cast joins in. Tom Palazzo has fine presence as The Monster, and of course his best moments come in "Putting on the Ritz." Tony Boothby doubles as Dr. Victor von Frankenstein and The Hermit quite successfully, and Mike Phelan brings a few moments of much needed sanity as Inspector Kemp. Carl Bowman does a nice turn as Ziggy, the village idiot.

Mr. Walker does a fine job of keeping this production lively, assisted by fine choreography by Eric Berkel and Kay Siebold. The lively pace keeps the comedy landing with the audience—the laughs were frequent and solid at the performance I attended. Rick Bogner does his usual fine job as musical director, keeping the mostly comic songs paced well. Set design by Jeffrey Weber is very effective. Jared E. Walker also designed the very colorful costumes and Tara Foster does a wonderful job lighting the show, which requires extremes of darkness and light.

Young Frankenstein is an imperfect musical, but The Players are offering a very entertaining production.

Young Frankenstein through November 20, 2016, at The Players Centre for the Performing Arts, 838 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL. Box Office (941) 365-2494. For more information visit www.theplayers.org.

Cast:
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: Mark Athridge
The Monster: Tom Palazzo
Igor: Ross Boehringer
Inga: Jessica Tasetano
Elizabeth Benning: Melissa Ingrisano
Frau Blucher: Jolie Cannon
Inspector Hans Kemp: Mike Phelan
The Hermit: Tony Boothby
Dr. Victor von Frankenstein: Tony Boothby
Ziggy: Carl Bowman
Ensemble: Kelsey Azadian, Riselle Bain, Sharon Bartley, Sami Blouin, Michael Brown, Mary Clarke, Nancy Creighton, Elizabeth Cusack, Gayle Foster, Angelo Jasa, Carol Johnston, Susie Lowe, Jack Morris, Linda Roeming, Joshua Seavey, Kay Siebold, Peter Vallance, Joseph Visaggi, Mickey Wilson-Skarr

Musicians:
Rick Bogner: Piano/Conductor
Thom Guthrie: 2nd Keyboard
Tim Eaton: Trumpet
Joe Wolfe: Trombone
Paul Henry: Percussion
Nancy Brining: Pit Singer

Director/Costume Designer: Jared E. Walker
Choreography: Eric Berkel and Kay Siebold
Musical Director: Rick bogner
Set Design: Jeffrey Weber
Stage Manager: Kathy Junkins
Technical Director: Ken Junkins
Lighting Design: Tara Foster
Dance Captain: Kay Siebold
Special Thanks To: Manatee Players, Venice Theatre, 8 O'Clock Theatre, Sarasota Architectural Salvage, Willis Smith Construction, Pixie Dust


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