Thursday, October 17, 2013

Young Frankenstein at the Albuquerque Little Theatre

"Young Frankenstein," the Mel Brooks classic horror spoof, comes to life onstage at the Albuquerque Little Theatre and the laughs are plentiful. Fleshing out many of the classic moments which film lovers such as myself quickly recognize in the script are the score numbers, allowing us to get to know these iconic characters in a different way. However, those who don't know the original can certainly enjoy this show equally.

Directed by Henry Avery, Daniel Tabeling is cast as Frederick Frankenstein, the son of the infamous Victor von Frankenstein, who seeks to leave behind his father's notorious medical legacy in pursuit of modern neural science. When his trip to his father's home leads him to discover his past, Frederick is compelled to try his hand at reanimation. Tabeling tackles the challenge with a strong voice and gives his Frederick a slightly different sound and character, choosing not to imitate Gene Wilder's performance but to find his own.

Accompanying Frederick on his journey is the hump-backed Igor, and Dehron Foster finds the essence of this sidekick, comic relief character without sliding into two dimensional caricature. Foster's choices as Igor are priceless. In any given scene, I would find my eyes drifting to see his reactions to the moment, and would start giggling. His ability to mug the audience, much as Marty Feldman is permitted to mug the camera in the film, plays authentically and delights.

Frederick has two love interests, the frigidly fabulous Elizabeth Benning, played by Stevie Nichols, and the luscious lab assistant Inga, played by Jessica Quindlen. Both actresses know their way around the comedy and how to work their laughs. Equally strong in their solos, Nichols' "Please Don't Touch Me" and Quindlen's "Roll in the Hay" were both buoyant and bawdy crowd favorites. Another strong female role in this show is Fabiana Borghese's Frau Blucher (neeeeeigh!) whose accent & comic timing was brilliant.

Joe Moncada brings Dr. Victor von Frankenstein to life in "Join the Family Business," the dark fantasy number that was a sheer delight. Moncada's comic prowess onstage is phenomenal in every role we see him in, and as the great Herr Doktor, he truly abandons himself to the part of the mad scientist as the ensemble joins to dance in the mad inspiration that is Frederick's dream. Stephan Balling as the Monster isn't given many lines but relies heavily upon his ginormous build and comic physicality for his story telling and laughs -- his scene with Harold the Hermit, played by John Shelton, particularly pleased the audience and myself.

With choreography by Desiree Lang, and the increasingly rare treat of live music to be enjoyed, the glitches in the lighting on opening night were only a minor distraction to the show onstage. Certain to sell out during the Halloween holiday, you can buy tickets ahead at or at 505-242-4750.

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