Just in time for Halloween, Entr’acte Theatrix brings Transylvania Mania to Delray Beach with an energetic production of Mel Brooks’ musical comedy Young Frankenstein. Based on Brooks’ 1974 film starring Gene Wilder, Young Frankenstein follows Dr. Frederick Frankenstein—pronounced Fronkensteen—as he travels to Transylvania to claim his late grandfather’s estate and come to terms with his family legacy. It is onstage at the Crest Theatre at the Delray Beach Center for the Arts at Old School Square to November 1.
|The cast of Young Frankenstein from left: Melissa Whitworth, Victoria Lauzun, Greg Halmos, Cindy Thagard, Robyn Eli Brenner, and Christopher Lam|
Entr’acte is a semi-professional company that bridges the gap between theater education and professional stage experience. The cast of Young Frankenstein comprises young thespians at the cusp of their careers, and every performer projects a palpable excitement for the material and the stage itself.
As Dr. Frankenstein, Robyn Eli Brenner looks every bit the mad scientist with a mane of unruly black curls and Buddy Holly–esque glasses. He guides his supporting cast members through a soundtrack of gut-splitting songs, never wavering from his established character traits. His best number is without a doubt his introductory song, “The Brain,” in which he builds his backstory as an obsessive man of science by reiterating an impressive list of the brain’s traits.
Greg Halmos also excels as Dr. Frankenstein’s loyal lackey Igor, as does Christopher Lam as The Monster. In this production, however, the women truly steal the show.
As the “innocent” country girl/lab assistant Inga, Victoria Lauzun skips and yodels with unparalleled charm. Her best song, “Roll in the Hay,” is a playful take on one of the movie’s most memorable scenes. Entr’acte Theatrix uses projections to simulate Inga and Dr. Frankenstein rushing through the mountains of Transylvania, provocatively bouncing in the back of a buggy the whole way.
Once the buggy slows down and the group arrives at the Frankenstein estate, the audience meets Frau Blucher, played by Cindy Thagard. From her stance to her accent, Thagard inhabits this character full force. Her pièce de résistance, “He Vas My Boyfriend,” recounts her relationship with the late Dr. Frankenstein and features her, a spotlight, and a chair—which turns out to be all she needs to deliver the best few minutes in the entire production.
Finally, Melissa Whitworth shines as Dr. Frankenstein’s meddling fiancé Elizabeth Benning. She enters in the first act to bid Frederick adieu and to also remind him to “Please Don’t Touch Me” until they are officially married. She makes her grand reappearance in the second act to “Surprise” Frederick in Transylvania. By the end of the show, she’s found a “Deep Love” with an unexpected suitor. Throughout it all, Whitworth embodies the ideal ditz with a tendency toward self-absorption that always results in huge laughs.
A large ensemble rounds out the cast of Young Frankenstein and is also worthy of accolades. Whether they’re donning white lab coats and dancing a mock hora in “Join the Family Business” or creating chaos as vigilant villagers, they all succeed in establishing a believable community for this unbelievable comedy.