There is rejoicing in Transylvania when the infamous Victor Von Frankenstein is carried away in a coffin. The audiences at The Ritz Theatre may also find reasons to rejoice as Heidelberg University and The Ritz Players present the new Mel Brooks musical, "Young Frankenstein."
Performances are at 7:30 p.m. today through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday on The Ritz's main stage.
Halloween is the perfect season for this wacky comedy. A 12-piece orchestra sets an ominous tone for action that is about to unfold. The curtain rises on Lukas Frey as Inspector Hans Kemp and Kelly Addis as Ziggy, a Transylvania citizen, speaking of their relief the doctor is dead.
PHOTO BY MARYANN KROMER
Fedderick (Charles Groth) converses with the monster (Adam Hoover) he has brought to life in the lab.
But someone points out Frankenstein's grandson, Fedderick, is alive and well, teaching at prestigious medical college in New York. What if he were to turn up to pick up where his grandfather left off?
Charles Groth as Fedderick receives the news of his grandfather's passing and a summons to settle the family estate. He bids goodbye to his socialite fiancee, Elizabeth (Darcianne Allen), and boards a ship for Europe. At the train station, Igor (Jeffrey Buchanan) meets Fedderick with a wagon to transport him to the castle. Also along for the jittery ride is Inga (Elle Dutton), a lab assistant Igor has hired.
Fedderick insists he has not come to work in the lab but to tend to the family property.
At the castle, Frau Blucher (Rosalie Distel) meets them at the door. Fedderick soon learns Frau is not only the housekeeper but also his grandfather's lover. The stern Frau describes her love in the hilarious "He Vas My Boyfriend."
Exhausted, Fedderick falls asleep and experiences a nightmare. Seth Innis as Victor Frankenstein appears with a chorus of lab workers, inviting him to "Join the Family Business."
Igor and Inga come to calm the frightened Fedderick. They also discover a bookcase that opens to reveal a staircase to the lab. Frau appears and presents the notes Dr. Frankenstein has left to Fedderick. The notebook says bringing lifeless matter to life is possible, which fascinates Fedderick.
"It could work!" he declares, if the right brain and body could be found to repeat the original experiment and produce a different outcome. Igor sets out to find the right "parts."
The lab is aglow with flashing lights and the sounds of a generator. Before the end of Act I, Fedderick has created a new monster, played by Adam Hoover, but the procedure does not go as planned. The creature bursts out of the castle and flees into the countryside, much to the villagers' alarm. Fedderick is sure he can humanize the creature, but first he must find him.
Many surprises develop as the search begins.
The audience can expect word plays and references to other musical productions, fog-shrouded scenes, cracks of thunder and other appropriate sound effects, "Transylvania Mania," a few four-letter words, a tap dance number, a shadow dance, pyrotechniques, a monster dancing to "Puttin' on the Ritz," complete with tuxedo and cane, and all manner of other devices in this fast-paced musical.
The costumers and make-up crew must be applauded for adding artistic touches and wigs to enhance the characters.
The principal female dancers are Katelyn Hough, Marina Richley, Kristina Kamm, Morgan LaFlure, Makenzie Dietrich and Dorothy Faris. Principal male dancers are Zachary Orwig, Tony Ringle, TJ Wasserman and AJ Lacefield.
Angie Smith, Josh Harris, Sandy Kimmel and Amy Berger serve as the chorus. All contribute solid voices to the mix.
Backing the vocalists are Greg Ramsdell and Collin Stump, keyboards; Cedrick Robinson, violin; Mackenzie Honaker, Kyle Sherepita and Colleen Abrams, reeds; Kelsey Keasel, horn; Joe Gozdowski and Emily Howe, trumpets; Jim Cook, bass; and Mike Mallow, drums.
Directing the production is Chris Tucci with Micheal Andres as musical director and choreographer Kathy Miller, who keeps the actors on the move. Jon Baggs of Tiffin designed the set and Lukas Frey did the lighting design.
This review cannot do justice to the spectacle that is about to appear. Some of the subject matter and language in "Young Frankenstein" are too mature for younger children.
Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students. For tickets and information, stop at the box office, 30 S. Washington St., visit www.ritztheatre.com or call (419) 448-8544.