VENICE — As the audience took their seats at the Venice Theatre, a horror-themed projection screen played black and white horror clips setting the mood for the SummerStock production of “Young Frankenstein.”
After 14 months with either no shows or with limited seating, the Venice Theatre hosted a full audience with no seating restrictions.
“My pleasure to welcome you back,” director/choreographer Brad Wages said, which was met with excited applause and cheering.
The musical, by comedic parody legend Mel Brooks and playwright Thomas Meehan, was adapted from Gene Wilder and Brooks’ 1974 movie “Young Frankenstein.”
Audience members of all ages were excited to see the musical ode to the cult classic film.
The audience followed along with bursts of laughter at the many sexual innuendos and cheering for the impressive dancing and singing numbers.
The musical told the story of Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, portrayed by Casey Berkery, and his internal battle with the Frankenstein family legacy. While he wants nothing to do with bringing the dead back to life, he was slowly convinced by his sidekick Igor and the ghost of his grandfather Dr. Victor von Frankenstein.
The storyline proceeds to play out as Dr. Frederick Frankenstein comes into many unfortunate, but funny situations trying to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps.
While the musical was some what different from the film, the nostalgic movie scenes like “The Brain,” where Dr. Frederick Frankenstein announced it was pronounced “Fronkensteen,” were met with an uproar from fans of the movie.
Despite being in either college or high school, the cast put on a well-done and professional performance of the adult-themed musical. Both the acting and singing had a since of maturity to them, instead of merely being a high school production.
Scenes like “Puttin’ on the Ritz” showed the casts ability to perform long and difficult dance numbers which drove the audience crazy with applause.
While everyone loved the cast, a few performers really stood out from the rest — Igor played by Lauren Wickerson, Frau Blucher played by Taylor Reister and the Monster played by Charlie Kollar.
All three had animated expressions that made the audience continuously laughing and intrigued, especially the Monster that didn’t even have a speaking line until the end of the show.
However, it seemed the audience responded well to the funny comments and over the top gestures — and of course the moving hump — of Igor, who was really the star of the show.
Not only were the performers up to par, but the technical aspects as well. Scenic designer Tim Wisgerhof did a fantastic job of re-purposing unused set material from canceled shows during the pandemic. The set made for the perfect spooky backdrop for the musical and changed effortlessly between scenes.
Other aspects that made the production that much better were the sound (Nate Blaweiss), lights (John Andzulis) and costumes (Maureen Demers).
The comedic sounds added to the parody with moments like the overly squeaky shoes when it was supposed to be a quiet tip-toeing moment and the horses neighing at the mention of Frau Blucher. During the laboratory scenes, the sound and strobe lights portrayed the eerie feeling of creating a monster.
While the costumes are typically just an after thought for the audience, Frau Blucher’s costume was captivating with a leather looking two-piece top and long skirt, which added to the mysterious — and risque — girlfriend of the late Dr. Victor von Frankenstein.
All of these aspects and the casts performance led to an enjoyable production of the comedic horror musical which received a standing ovation from the crowd on opening night.