Chronicle.lu sat in on the Dress Rehearsal of Pirate Productions' latest offering, "Young Frankenstein - The Muscial" by Mel Brooks.
Young Frankenstein is based on the 1974 comedy film of the same name written by Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder and directed by Brooks, but which itself is based on a book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan, with music and lyrics by Brooks. It is a parody of the horror film genre, especially the 1931 Universal Pictures adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and its 1939 sequel, Son of Frankenstein.
For Luxembourg's Pirate Productions, this is an ambitious project, and do they pull it off!
The storyline of "Young Frankenstein - The Muscial" features the respected medical lecturer and Dean of Anatomy, Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, who learns that he has inherited his infamous grandfather's estate in Transylvania. Travelling from the US, arriving at the castle, Dr. Frankenstein soon begins to recreate his grandfather's experiments with the help of servants Igor, Inga and the fearsome Frau Blücher. After he creates his own monster, further complications ensue with the arrival of the doctor's fiancée, Elizabeth Benning. The local villagers attempt to destroy the monster, who escapes and kidnaps Elizabeth. Desperate to save his creation, Frederick proposes a highly risky brain transference procedure with somewhat surprising results.
After a rather slow opening, the show gains momentum and gets going, thanks in no small part to songs such as "That's what I love about the brain" and "Together again for the first time". The storyline starts to fall into place, led mainly by dialogue and settings. The comedy edge take a while longer though, with Igor in the castle's cellar and Harold, the blind man, welcoming the monster into his home, some of the more memorable moments.
The main focal point though is the large backdrop which is cleverly illuminated by overhead projectors which instantaneously changes from scene to scene, from outside the castle to inside a laboratory, etc., with the ride up to the castle and its interior particularly effective (kudos to designer Dominique Zeltxer Russell). So all the hard work on scene changes has been prepared beforehand, meaning that only a token of props and set are required. This works splendidly. But this approach also frees up space on the stage for the performers to move about freely and allows the choreography to shine through in what are many of the production's best scenes. This approach to set design cannot be underestimated as it helps create the ambience and setting for the entire production, from Act 1 to Act 2 and from scene to scene.
With the live orchestra in the pit, the performers on the stage expanse have a significant platform on which to display their creative talents. The music also sets the scene, particularly the melodrama when exploring the castle and its hidden chambers.
The task to dress all the characters may not have been as challenging as for other Pirates' productions in the past, yet the wardrobe crew here, plus make-up, have done an exemplary job, from Dr Frankenstein all the way through to the cart-horses and the monster (Florin Purice).
Look out for particularly noteworthy performances by Victor Bonanno (Dr. Frederick Frankenstein), Jennie Kenton (Inga the lab assistant - can she yodel!), Ciara Barker (the housekeeper, Frau Blücher - what a wunderbar German accent!) and Simon Taylor-Kielty (Igor), as well as Catriona Gillham (Elizabeth) in Act 2.
Congratulations to the director Neil Johnson and the musical director Philip Dutton, in particular, along with choreographer Dominique Vitali, for putting this show together - it is much more that the sum of its parts. Another great success from the local amateur entertainment scene - not to be missed! In the marvellous 400-plus-capacity Kinneksbond theatre, this is the perfect platform for such a company's production.
"Young Frankenstein - The Muscial" is being performed at the Kinneksbond Centre Culturel in Mamer from Thursday 8 to Sunday 11 November 2018, with performance at 19:30 Thurs-Sat, plus matinees at 14:30 on Sat & Sun. Tickets cost €25 (children & students €12.50). For more information and reservations, book online at www.pirateproductions.lu or tel: 356339 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Young Frankenstein contains some adult themes and language and may not be suitable for young children.