Sunday | April 19, 2015
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Monstrous fun

The classic Mel Brooks movie is alive and larger than life at the Aloha Theatre in Kainaliu. Everyone loves a good comedy, especially if it can be watched multiple times and still conjure up the laughs. Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein” definitely falls into that category. Add a little song and dance and you get the engaging and hysterical live production of “Young Frankenstein: The Musical.”

Aloha Performing Arts Company’s “Young Frankenstein” opened last weekend and runs every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Oct. 27. A mischievous take-off of the 1974 classic comedy “Young Frankenstein,” the musical is a faithful adaptation of the film, including its famous sophomoric jokes such as, “Put the candle back” and “Walk this way.”

Breathing life into the production is director Jerry Tracy, music director Dale Ross and choreographer Lance Oliver.

“I was really looking for triple threats — people who could sing, act, and dance,” Tracy said. “The cast had to be top of the line singers, actors and dancers. This was the hardest show that most of us have ever done. It was the most exhausting opening weekend that most of us have experienced, too. It’s an incredibly complicated show. It’s long, it’s difficult musically, and the technical requirements are mind-boggling.”

Like the film, the play follows the bright young Dr. Fredrick Frankenstein (Johnny Gomez), a young scientist who has spent the majority of his adult life running from his grandfather’s monstrous reputation. Upon his grandfather’s death, the young doctor is summoned to Transylvania where he inherits the family castle and assets. Although Fredrick wants no part of this legacy, he gets it all, including the endearing hunchback, Igor (Sam Valenti), a buxom lab assistant named Inga (Sara Sweetass Hagen), and the cadaverous housemaid, Frau Blucher (Kelly Ann Miles).

With a little help from this motley crew, and in spite of his self-absorbed fiancé, Elizabeth (Tracey Fosso), Fredrick finds himself immersed in his grandfather’s laboratory and walking in his footsteps. Convinced by Igor to take over the “family business” and bring a corpse back to life, the young doctor creates a new “monster” (Miguel Montez). Unfortunately, things don’t go exactly as planned, often resulting in a series of frightening and hilarious consequences.

A spoof on Mary Shelly’s 1823 novel “Frankenstein,” the show maintains its original dark premise, with the addition of humor and catchy music to broaden the appeal. With such arousing tunes as “The Transylvania Mania,” “He Vas My Boyfriend” and “Roll In The Hay,” “Young Frankenstein” is monstrously good entertainment.

However, according to director Tracy, preproduction of the show wasn’t without its glitches.

“We had arranged to get a scissor lift to lift the actors up,” Tracy said. “We went to pick it up 10 days before the opening and discovered that it wasn’t going to work. It was too heavy, too bulky. It weighed 3,200 pounds and would have broken the floor of the theater just getting in there. So we had to go back to the drawing board to figure out another way to raise the actors. Our technical director came up with the wench idea. That about killed me, but it worked out great.”

The show’s casting appeared to be a smoother process. Gomez, who plays young Dr. Frankenstein, conjures up images of Robert Downey Jr. in his comedic Sherlock Holmes role.

“Up until opening night we’re on stage and still laughing at each other,” Gomez said. “It’s a fun and hilarious play, even for those of us who’ve done it over and over again. When I’m doing the show, I don’t even look at the characters who are talking. I look at the audience because it’s the only way I can keep myself from laughing.”

The bodacious “assistant” Inga is played by Hagen, who bounces jovially around the stage.

“Inga just came natural to me — to be flirty, happy and kind of ridiculous,” Hagen said. “It’s great because a lot of us on stage together are really good friends and it’s made it a better process. For a difficult show, you want to like everyone you’re on stage with.”

Other cast members include; Mark Earl Shelman as Inspector Kemp, John Holliday as the Hermit, Don Chinery as Victor Frankenstein and Miles Lugo as Ziggy.

The ensemble of talented chorus and dancers includes Saffron Datta, Simon Ellis, Nora Frank, Aaron Getzinger, John Hulen, Bryden James, Yoshimi Jenkins, Hannah Kimmel, Robin O’Hara, Victor Pisauro and Sarah Rouse.

“It’s a fun, exciting show,” Hagen said. “There’s a lot of great music, a lot of comic relief, and of course some iconic scenes. If you like Mel Brooks, you’re going to love the musical. Even if you don’t like Mel Brooks, you’ll still like the musical.”

The show continues tonight and Saturday and Oct. 19, 21 and 26 at 7 p.m. with 2:30 p.m. Sunday matinees on Sunday, Oct. 20, and 27. Tickets are $20 for adults, $17 for seniors and young adults, and $10 for children younger than 18. Purchase tickets online at apachawaii.org or by calling 322-9924.