[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]he DOMA Theatre Company has been staging first-rate musicals for L.A. audiences at affordable prices for over a decade now, and their current production of “Young Frankenstein” is a prime example of the reasons behind their success.
Having a hit with his musical version of The Producers it is understandable why Mel Brooks would want to try his luck with a tuneful rendering of another of his films. We just should all be thankful he chose Young Frankenstein instead of History of the World, Part I or Space Balls.
Released in 1974 with the Oscar nominated screenplay by Brooks and Gene Wilder, Young Frankenstein is arguably the last truly funny Mel Brooks’ film. Yes, there are moments in Space Balls and High Anxiety, but only moments. Young Frankenstein was a non-stop cluster-chuckle. Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, Peter Boyle, Madeline Kahn, Cloris Leachman, Kenneth Mars and Teri Garr are in top form and Brooks captured the black and white richness of the old Universal horror films to perfection.
The play follows the film closely which in turn took its cue from the 1931 original Frankenstein, the 1935 Bride of… and the 1939 Son of… Brooks does take the play off the beaten path of the film, but at the end of every pathway awaits a toe-snapping, finger-tapping tune. It should come as no surprise that most of the songs are extensions of the film’s classic lines with titles like: “Roll In the Hay” and “He Vas My Boyfriend”, but all the ditties are delightfully demented.
Marco Gomez, one of the co-founders of DOMA, directs, with choreography by Angela Todaro and Chris Raymond on board as musical director. Together they mix up the music, mayhem and monsters, bake it just right, and serve it up as a tasty treat with a luscious layering of merriment as icing.
The cast is both solid and talented.
John David Wallis juggles all the balls in the title role with appreciable aplomb. Susan Huckle succeeds wonderfully in displaying equal parts of sexy and silly, Scott Seiffert has the “chops” if not the “eyes” for playing Igor, and Hector S. Quintana terrifies and tickles as the monster.
Toni Smith as Frankenstein’s glacier fiancée Elizabeth and Bradley Kuykendall as the ghost of Victor Frankenstein (no, that’s not in the movie) both wow the house when they set to crooning, and we’ll look forward to seeing more of them in future DOMA stagings.
Bobby Reed, a new face to DOMA, portrays the hermit with great panache.
Michelle Holmes is a familiar face to anyone who’s frequented DOMA’s past productions and shines as the grim Frau Blücher (cue the neighing horses).
Granted the performances may pale somewhat against remembrances of those from the film, so just don’t remember them already! (“Jean Whiler? Who the hell is Jean Whiler?”)
Besides, even if they do pale a mite, there’s still plenty of polychromatic wisecracks and buffoonery to go around. And so what if a gag’s a little less mulberry and a tad more eggshell, a chuckle’s a chuckle.