'Young Frankenstein': Mel Brooks musical opens at Manatee Players

'Young Frankenstein' is the latest production from Manatee Players

mclear@bradenton.comOctober 24, 2013 

Alot of people consider "Young Frankenstein" one of the funniest movies ever.

Those people are going to love "Young Frankenstein: The Musical" just as much. Or at least so says Dewayne Barrett.

"If you like the movie you'll like the musical," Barrett said. "It's the same 'Young Frankenstein,' just set to song and dance."

Barrett is directing the Manatee Players' production that opens its three-week run today.

The original "Young Frankenstein" was, of course, the farcical takeoff on the Mary Shelley novel, written by Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder about the grandson of the original Dr. Frankenstein who inherits his grandfather's castle and continues his research.

Brooks and Thomas Meehan, the same pair that created Brooks' previous and more famous movie-to-musical transformation, "The Producers," worked together again for "Young Frankenstein."

The reviews of the Broadway production of "Young Frankenstein: The Musical" were not kind.

"The show takes many of the elements that made 'The Producers' such a delight and then saps them of their joy by overselling them," wrote Ben Brantley in the New York Times. But many of his objections to the show were specific to that production, and its Broadway run lasted 14 months, which is not bad at all.

"Young Frankenstein" isn't as natural a candidate for a stage musical as "The Producers," which is all about the making of a Broadway musical.

But, like the film version of "The Producers," the original "Young Frankenstein" does features one classic musical number, in which young Frankenstein and his semi-human creation hilariously mangle Irving Berlin's "Puttin' on the Ritz."

That number remains, but Barrett said it wasn't Brooks' inspiration for the musical.

"He woke up one night and this song occurred to him," Barrett said. "It was a song for Frau Blucher, 'He Vas My Boyfriend.' He thought of that and decided he had to write the musical.

Barrett's a familiar figure to Manatee Players audiences. He directed "Legally Blonde" and "Chicago," and had the Gene Kelly role in "Singin' in the Rain."

Among the lead actors is Karen Lalosh as Frau Blucher, the cronish character played by Cloris Leachman in the movie. Lalosh is another Manatee Players regular who was in "Legally Blonde" and several other shows directed by Barrett.

"I've worked in other shows," Lalosh said. "But I always try to do the ones that Dewayne directs, because they're the most fun."

Other cast member are Brian F. Finnerty as Frederick Frankenstein, Mark Netherly as Igor, Danae DeShazer as Elizabeth, Andrea Wright as Inga, Travis Rogers as Victor Frankenstein and William E. Masuck as the Monster.

Details: Oct. 24-Nov. 10, Stone Hall, Manatee Performing Arts Center, 502 Third Ave, W., Bradenton. Show times: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $26-$36, teachers $15, students $13. Information: 941-748-5875, www.manateeplayers.com.

Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919.

Follow twitter.com/martinclear.

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