By: Nicholas Pontolillo


Everyone has their go-to classic films to watch to get them in the Halloween spirit, many of which would usually fall in the horror genre. While I do enjoy horror, sometimes you just need something nice and light. My fab four Halloween films include: It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, Hocus PocusThe Witches (with Anjelica Huston), and Young Frankenstein; Each one of these a perfect blend of eerie, kooky fun. After setting the Tony record for most wins with The Producers (12!) back in 2001, Mel Brooks dipped his toe in the theater waters again in 2007 by bringing Young Frankenstein to life; I had the pleasure of seeing the original Broadway production and loved every second of it. Currently, Young Frankenstein can be seen at CM Performing Arts Center (CMPAC) in Oakdale, NY and it will leave you in stitches.

Young Frankenstein is a parody based on Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein and the James Whale classic horror films of the 1930s. After inheriting his grandfather’s estate in Transylvania, Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (that’s pronounced FRONK-en-steen) begins recreating his grandfather’s experiments of reanimating dead tissue, with the help of his assistants Inga, Igor (Eye-gor), and Frau Blucher (insert neigh!), hoping to prove his grandfather’s sanity. Mel Brooks once again proves that he is a genius. The book is hilarious; his jokes (both classic ones from the film and new) leave the audience in hysterics. He also writes great songs that you will be whistling or humming as you leave the theater.

Jordan Hue directs a magical production and has assembled a stellar cast and crew. Scenic designer John Mazzarella is a true gem of Long Island theater. His set is awe-inspiring, epically gothic, and truly resembles the original production designs of the James Whale films. Ronald R. Green III’s costume design was a wonderful homage to the original 1974 film and 2007 Broadway production. Choreographer Melissa Rapelje did a fine job. Her choreography stops the show with “Puttin’ on the Ritz”; you’ll feel like you’re watching a Busby Berkeley number.

The only flaw with the show, but totally fixable, was some of the lighting cues. There were a couple of moments after a stage transition where the stage was left in total darkness and the next scene began. The crew also must be careful and make sure all set pieces are on their necessary marks. In one scene a portrait of Baron von Frankenstein is supposed to be projected onto a frame for a special effect in the show. The wall with the frame was not in the right place, resulting in the portrait being way off-center. These are easy fixes.

Kevin Shaw did a great job as Dr. Frederick Frankenstein; I thought he was perfectly cast as the comedic straight man. When Shaw sings about his love for the brain, he imbues Danny Kaye; I was reminded of “The pellet with the poison’s in the vessel with the pestle” scene from The Court Jerster. Courtney O’Shea was adorable as Inga; I was impressed with her ability to yodel upside down. Thomas H. Anderson was quite majestic as the Monster. The true scene-stealers were Andrew Murano and Erica Giglio-Pac as Igor and Frau Blucher; they both had the audience in hysterics every time they were on stage. Murano‘s delivery was spot on. Giglio-Pac sang the neighs out of the horses with her powerhouse performance of “He Vas My Boyfriend.” A shout-out must also be given to Keith Jones as Victor Frankenstein; he stops the show in Act 1 with his performance of “Join the Family Business”.

Erma Bombeck once said, “There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.” Recently, Pete Davidson said on Saturday Night Live, “Sometimes, comedy is really the only way forward through tragedy.” We are right now living in very trying and devastating times. I can’t tell you how great it felt to laugh again.

Do yourself a favor, step out of the cold of tragedy and go relish in the warm humor of Mel Brooks’s Young Frankenstein at CMPAC; it’s a monster hit!

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