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Theater Review: TheatreWorks Offering Musical Comedy At Its Absolute Best

Published: May 10, 2018 at 12:00 am

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NEW MILFORD - TheatreWorks New Milford's production of Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan's Young Frankenstein is musical comedy at its absolute best. Under the skilled and utterly determined direction of Jocelyn Beard, the large-scale musical only gets better in the small venue that served as the theater company's home. The cast and crew create a spectacle that suggests some type of divine intervention.

Young Frankenstein evolved in the mind of its creator, Mel Brooks, from the movie to a Broadway musical. This transition to the confines of a community theater stage is an exercise in reconfiguring, special effects, and creativity that pays off big time. Coupled with a cast that must have made Ms Beard feel as though she has done something very, very right in her life, the result is a must see theater event.

The story of Young Frankenstein most likely needs no recounting. Suffice to say this version of the sequel to Frankenstein is bawdy, very silly, and highly entertaining.

Playing Frederick Frankenstein, Joseph DeVellis is a kinetic bundle of musical comedy excellence. His effusive combination of energy, talent, presence, and enthusiasm is mesmerizing and hilarious. It is difficult to tear your eyes away for fear of missing some nuanced gesture or look as his character blends genius with madness. This is high camp, and Mr DeVellis renders it with aplomb.

Unbelievably, the rest of the cast, including every member of the ensemble, is more than up to the high bar set here. As Frederick's new assistant, Igor, Matthew Benjamin Horowitz contorts his face and body in order to thoroughly morph into the devoted castle troll. He is totally convincing.

Lana Peck, as the tightly woven Frau Blucher, a hangover domestic in the castle, is a hoot. Her rendition of "He Was My Boyfriend" was delivered so earnestly during a recent performance, the audience roared with laughter.
The aristocratic fiancé of Dr Frankenstein, Elizabeth (Ashley McLeod) is a giggly, high pitched socialite made earthy by an encounter in the woods. Ms McLeod is first rate in this role.

As Inga, the local maiden smitten with Frederick, Maya Jennings Daley is adorable. Her relentless pursuit of Frederick's affection is flirty and seductive, with a flawless Transylvanian accent.

Keeping the crowds informed and in line is Inspector Hans Kemp, played by Shawn Brown, whose physical comedy and droll delivery, as he wrangles his prosthetic limbs and oversized eyewear, is really fun to watch.
Playing the eponymous Monster, Michael Wright sports heavy makeup, a mop of black hair, and thick-soled boots in which he lumbers and groans his way through a fabulous performance.

Patrick Spaulding appears as three separate characters. It is his rendition of "Please Send Me Someone" as the Blind Hermit that is a true standout.

David Fritsch offers the ideal look and demeanor of Frederick's newly expired grandfather, Dr Victor Von Frankenstein.

Every member of the ensemble - Elizeth Brito, Collin Kent Larson, Chris Marker, Helaine Miserendino, Isidora Naples, Erin Walsh, Christina Van De Water, Tarah Vega, and Jerusha Wright - is to be commended for their all-out talent, effort, and commitment. They dance, sing, and chase down the monster with the precision required by the small stage. Individually and as a whole, they are superb.

The entire crew dedicated itself to the creation of a theater happening not to be missed. Shagbargh Hickory has designed a set with projection (designed by Phillip Lamb) and moving parts combined with scenic design by Kate Moncuse and Jenny Andress that is totally transformative. Costume designer Sue Haneman is resourceful and creative. Al Chiapetta has again made magic with special effects. Musical Director Mary Jane Phelan's contribution is vital to the quality of this production, and of course, all hats are off to the magnificent direction of Jocelyn Beard, a master of the small stage.

The list of superlatives has been exhausted. Whatever it takes, get to New Milford and catch Young Frankenstein.

Performances of the movie-turned-musical comedy continue through June 2, with curtain Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 pm, and Sundays, May 20 and 27, at 2 pm. Tickets for all shows are $30, $25 for students and military personnel with ID.

Reservations can be made online at theatreworks.us or by calling the box office at 860-350-6863.

TheatreWorks is at 5 Brookside Avenue, just off Route 202 (next to CVS) in New Milford. Parking is located behind the Catherine E. Lillis Administration Building at 50 East Street.

Please note the theater is advising this production may not be suitable for children under age 12.

 

Young Frankenstein at TheatreWorks -- monster awakensInga (Maya Daley), Igor (Matthew Benjamin Horowitz) and Dr Frederick Frankenstein (Joseph Devellis) watch and welcome The Monster in a scene from Young Frankenstein, which is challenging our theater reviewer to find new words to offer praise for everything and everyone involved in the TheatreWorks New Milford production.




-Richard Pettibone photo


 

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