Scotch’n’Soda’s production of Young Frankenstein, a musical adaption of the cult classic comedic-horror film of the same name by Mel Brooks, thrilled audiences this past Hallo-weekend with its hilarious take on a classic horror story. It left most in fits of giggles and guffaws all throughout the show, while also exploring the themes of identity, rediscovering one’s roots, and defying expectations.
Arriving early, I was fortunate enough to beat the massive crowds and got prime seating in McConomy Auditorium. Although it was my first Scotch’n’Soda performance, I had only heard rave reviews about their shows, and as I sat with hundreds of people rapidly filling the theater, my excitement and anticipation only continued to grow.
Right from the opening number, the tone of the show was light and humorous. The villagers of Transylvania appeared, decked out in black for the funeral of Victor Frankenstein, but what should have been a mournful time was not. Instead, they burst into an elaborate and fast-paced song and dance, declaring themselves “The Happiest Town in Town” after hurriedly and haphazardly throwing Frankenstein’s coffin to the ground. Happy to finally be rid of the Frankenstein family and its horrible track record with the undead, constantly wreaking havoc and causing fear throughout the village, the villagers rang in the performance on a high note. Their morbid glee was temporarily halted by Inspector Kemp, played by first-year Julien Buron, who warned that there is still one remaining Frankenstein in America. They quickly resumed their celebration, however, realizing how unlikely it is that Frederick Frankenstein would come all the way from America to Transylvania.
The scene quickly changed, sharply contrasting the villagers and their views of Victor Frankenstein with the fascinated and curious students of Frederick Frankenstein in America. The young Frankenstein, played by sophomore Alec Albright, insists his name is pronounced “Fronkensteen” and wants no connection to his grandfather and his eccentric science experiments. He dodges the questions thrown at him about his ancestry and tries to make a name for himself through pure science. This is short-lived, however, as he is forced to travel to Transylvania when he finds out that he needs to settle his grandfather’s estate.
Despite his efforts to settle things quickly and head back to both his work and his fiancée Elizabeth, played by sophomore Abigale Pfingsten, Frederick quickly becomes fascinated with Victor’s work. He is taken through “Join the Family Business,” the musical number of Frederick’s nightmares by his grandfather Victor, played by first-year JJ Legelis, and later stumbles into his grandfather’s secret laboratory and reads Victor’s aptly named book, “How I Did It.” Along with his wacky companions Igor, Frau Blücher, and Inga, portrayed by junior Grant Seastream, first-year Emily Schneider, and sophomore Bryanna Walker respectively, Frederick attempts to create a morally good and intelligent creature. Soon, an innocent mistake turns disastrous for all and madness quickly ensues when the creature that awakens is not what Frederick imagined.
Filled with fantastically choreographed dance routines that really accentuate the tone of the musical and the unique personalities of the characters, the show left the audience bouncing in their seats and put a new meaning to the phrase “dancing with death.” Frankenstein, in an effort to persuade the village that the creature is not to be feared, quite literally dances with death in a grand, show-stopping performance of “Puttin’ on the Ritz.”
Scotch’n’Soda’s performance of Young Frankenstein left me awed by not only the talented and realistic portrayal of the characters the actors were playing but also all the work and dedication of Scotch’n’Soda members towards putting together such a superb performance. From the brilliant choreography and amazing music to the mood-setting lighting and beautifully designed sets, everything was outstanding. Although the sometimes racy humor of Young Frankenstein may not have been for all, there was definitely something for every theater-goer to enjoy in the production, especially in terms of music. There is a great variety of musical styles and genres implemented in the show, including opera, jazz, and even a barbershop quintet, and as the directors noted, it “ties all together in the style of classic, old-school musical theater that we all know and love.”
The directors, junior Heather Graci and senior Michael Wagner, expressed that they love theater because it can “give us a break from reality to smile, laugh, and feel along with the actors onstage,” and their sentiments shined through, never failing to satisfy the theater attendees. There is no doubt that in the end, everyone was feeling the “Transylvania Mania.”