Monday, September 16, 2013

Season Opener at Clarksville Little Theater Embraces No-Holds-Barred Spirit of Mel Brooks

Young Frankenstein
Book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan
Music and Lyrics by Mel Brooks
Directed by C. Kevin Swansey
Review by Kate Barry
Entire contents are copyright © 2013 Kate Barry. All rights reserved
You can never go wrong with Mel Brooks. His work is hilarious and an established mainstay in pop culture. This is a man who knows exactly what comedy is and has always worked at a peak level throughout his long career. Clarksville Little Theater chose to open their season with the musical adaptation of Young Frankenstein, based on the iconic film comedy of the same name. This production embraces the no-holds-barred spirit of Brooks’ humor and adds extra fun along the way.
The script oozes with jokes that have seeped into our psyches – everything from “Abby Normal” brains to "rolling in the hay." It’s hard to even think about this show without quoting it. Director C. Kevin Swansey and company have done well to honor each of these jokes and gags. As the creature Dr. Frankenstein (Joe Tindle) brings back to life, Liam O’Daniel-Munger brings great charisma as he stiffly strides across the stage with magnitude. O’Daniel-Munger’s stature and size work to his advantage in helping the jokes work. He has made a well-known monster character his own and adds some new life to a stock character. And of course, the “Puttin’ on the Ritz” duet with Tindle channels the same clever charm Brooks originally captured with Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle.
Kayla Gill as Dr. Frankenstein’s blonde Swedish bombshell assistant brings unique comedic timing and talent to the role. Gill provides the right amount of silliness to all of her innuendos with Dr. Frankenstein and yet doesn’t forget that proverbial wink and nudge to the audience.
Joe Tindle plays Dr. Frankenstein with a mild manner. Although he barely skims the surface of madness and lunacy of a scientist obsessed with his work, Tindle has his moments and shines with his musical numbers like “The Brain” and “Together Again.” As the prudish and high maintenance Elizabeth, Winnie Spitza puts it all out there and doesn’t shy away from fondling, groping or belting her songs. Andrew McGill plays Igor, the humpback servant to Dr. Frankenstein. As most of his lines are punch lines and puns, it’s important to consider the timing and beats with comedy, and McGill seemed to rush through the funniest lines in the play. Howard J. Whitman plays Inspector Kemp, who has some great moments of comedy, yet I would have liked to hear the cranking noises associated with his mechanical limbs. Carol Dines plays Frau Bulcher, toting a violin and wearing thick, black eye makeup; Dines had fun with this part. Dancing with a chair in “He Vas My Boyfriend,” Dines is a hoot and doesn’t have a problem being appropriately melodramatic.
Ensemble numbers were spirited and fun like “Join the Family Business” and “Transylvania Mania.” There was some bumping and tripping from time to time, but nothing draws focus from the rest of the scene. With minor hiccups here and there, the entire production itself is very amusing nonetheless.
Young Frankenstein

September 13-21, 2013

Clarksville Little Theater
301 E. Montgomery Ave
Clarksville, IN 47129

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