Oct. 13--ORLEANS -- Trips through a possibly haunted castle. Rampaging villagers. Near-death experiences at the hands of a giant green abomination.
It's all in a day's work for poor Dr. Frederick Frankenstein -- and lucky for us, because his misfortune makes for an absolutely hilarious version of Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein" at the Academy of Performing Arts.
The stage version of Brooks' monster masterpiece is very loyal to its 1974 film inspiration. Likewise, the plot -- a grandson of legendary monster maker Dr. Frankenstein contemplates taking up the family business -- is more a vehicle for comedy than anything else. Fans will likely anticipate most of the jokes here.
Added are Brooks' original songs, tinged with his usual innuendo (see "Please Don't Touch Me" as a laugh-out-loud, tears-rolling-down-your-face example), are brilliantly written examples of the best of Broadway and well-placed in the show.
But remember, this is Mel Brooks -- his scientists aren't merely mad, they're madcap, and his monsters aren't merely large in stature. There are entire songs ("Deep Love") devoted to other, less-mentionable anatomical feats.
Yes, it's ridiculous. Stupid, really. But that's the beauty of Brooks' twisted mind: Once you get over the idea that theater is supposed to be enlightening, it's nearly impossible not to be bowled over with laughter.
The laughter can be chalked up to Brooks' joke-crafting brilliance. But credit for the near-perfect delivery is entirely due to the show's cast, from leading man Rick Smith to the members of the ensemble cast.
It's truly miraculous that they don't simply collapse into giggles half of the time (though at times they seem a bit timid vocally. Belt it out, guys!).
As Frederick Frankenstein, Smith's energy is palpable, his voice smooth. True, his character may not be the most developed in history -- he seems to be driven mostly by flattery and flirty girls, not necessarily in that order -- but he's the focal point of the show and rightfully so.
His wacky comrades, the hunchbacked Igor ("It's pronounced eye-gor") and Frau Blucher (those horses!) are near mirrors of their film selves, and that's a good thing. Brooks got it right the first time, and happily Terrence Brady (Igor) and Karen Ross-Riquinha (Blucher) don't mess with the formula.
Though smaller roles, the Hermit (honey-voiced Peter Milsky) and the Creature (Jefferson C. Post) also deserve kudos. Making a blind, whiny recluse and a grunting green giant into viable parts of the show is impressive.
As the requisite Brooks ingenue Inga, Rachel Solomon is pretty and sweet-voiced but could use more oomph. Her "Roll In the Hay" could have been uproarious, but instead it was -- sorry -- just another song.
Speaking of songs, though -- live music by pianist Christopher Morris, bassist Dick Stocks and drummer Andre McKenzie is a serious treat at such a small theater.
Still, taken together, the cast's chemistry is perfect and their delivery of Brooks' jokes spot-on, surely in part to impressive directing by Peter Earle and Morris.
So whether you "walk this way" or simply take a drive over, catch APA's "Young Frankenstein" for a monstrously good time.
(c)2013 the Cape Cod Times (Hyannis, Mass.)
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