Young Frankenstein at the Colonial

Smash Hit Mel Brooks Musical in Pittsfield

By: - Jun 30, 2024

Young Frankenstein
Music & lyrics by Mel Brooks
Book by Mel Brooks & Thomas Meehan
Original direction & choreography by Susan Stroman
Direction and choreography by Gerry McIntyre
Scenic design by Mike Billings; costume design by Barbara Erin Delo; lighting design by Mike Billings; sound design by Joanna Lynne Staub; projection design by Brad Peterson; Wig design by Liz Printz; Intimacy coordinator Lillian Ransijn
Orchestrations by Doug Besterman and Mark Cumberland
Based on a concept by Stuart Ross
Assistant director Nick Cearley; Assistant to the choreographer Shira Holtz;
Casting by Murnane Casting, Chad Eric Murnane, CSA
Through Sunday, July 21 at 2pm
Colonial Theatre
Berkshire Theatre Group
Pittsfield, Mass.

Gerry McIntyre has directed and choreographed a flawless production of Mel Brooks’ hilarious musical Young Frankenstein. On opening night, it rocked a full house at the Colonial Theatre, where it will be fun, fun, fun until July 21.

Berkshire Theatre Group has gone all in with this over-the-top musical. There are fabulous sets by Mike Billings, dramatic special effects lighting by Joanna Lynn Staub, and spiffy costumes by Barbara Erin Delo. This is a big and expensive show that’s worth its weight in solid gold. Where it did cut corners, however, is the adequate but thin five-piece pit band led by Eric Svejcar on piano and synthesizer.

It’s a long first act with a lot of exposition. Of course the Frankenstein story is readily familiar. It’s just a matter of retelling.  

We start with handsome and rather innocent young Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Matthew Hydzik). When first encountered he is lecturing his students on the qualities of the human brain. This will later factor into creating the monster this fable is noted for.

It’s a long long way to Transylvania which is more than just a change of geography. The plan is to visit briefly to settle the estate and his inheritance. Once there he is greeted by the wonderfully distorted, hump-backed troll Igor (James Romney). It seems he had assisted the prior, monster producing, Dr. Frankenstein. They embrace at the train station for the duet “Together Again for the First Time.” He proves to be the perfect factotum,

Travel to the ancestral towered edifice is accomplished by hay wagon. How quaint evoking “Roll in the Hay.” Upon arrival they are greeted by the house mistress, the sinister and imposing Frau Blucher (Veanne Cox). She has history with the monster legend as she sings the hilariously smarmy “He Vas My Boyfriend.” Indeed.

At the formidable entrance to the castle there is a sexist gag from Igor about its enormous knockers. Some of the sexual shenanigans of the musical are a bit outré but this, after all, is the great and irreverent Mel Brooks who does not respond well to being censured.

Once in the legendary laboratory, and with access to clinical notes, young Dr. Franksnstein is lured into the prospect of creating life with “It Could Work.” What that entails is a bit of body snatching from a fresh grave and finding a suitable brain.

Yet again that rouses the fear and panic of the pitchfork wielding villagers with a chorus of “Hang Him Till He’s Dead.” It seems the earlier monster got loose and went on a murderous rampage.

While the good doctor has left behind a fiancé Elizabeth Benning (Alena Watters) he finds a new squeeze in a lab assistant Inga (Kyla Stone). They will battle for the Dr. after she arrives as “a surprise” and finds them in flagrante delicto.

At the end of the long first act the musical literally “comes alive” with the successful creation of the monster, played deliciously by the long and lanky Sean Bell. Having been zapped to life he lumbers down the aisle on platform shoes ending the first act.

The second act moves swiftly and outrageously fueled by that incredible monster. His surprisingly innocent face has been painted green under a very artificial and comical wig. At first he moves clumsily and can only utter guttural sounds.

It seems that Igor screwed up and destroyed the “brilliant” brain opting for plan B the container of which is labeled “Abnormal.”

As we sail merrily along it’s all about coming to adore the monster. The villagers, up in arms, are not so amused and want to hang the aberration and his creator.

The good Dr. has a plan. He devises to send his brain to the monster. It’s a risky procedure, resembling twin electric chairs that may leave one or both quite dead. With the angry mob storming the castle it’s a risky rush job as Igor it told to pull the final switch.

After some high anxiety it works and we now have a bright, charming, and articulate monster. There’s a quip that he now sounds like Noel Coward.

In tuxedos with walking sticks there is a full chorus rendering of soft shoe in “Puttin On the Ritz.” The audience burst into applause in utter amazement at the monster as entertaining song and dance man. Think of a somewhat grotesque Fred Astaire. With unfettered bliss we come to adore the charming monster. Most notably, the fiancé  has now blissfully hooked up with this monstrous lover. There is a tasteless Brooks smarmy size joke, but what the heck it’s all in great fun.

Unfortunately all good things come to an end. Thanks for an utterly unforgettable evening in colorful, downtown Pittsfield. Good grief there is so much astonishing talent in the Berkshires.