Mel Brooks’ hilarious take on Transylvania makes a perfect Halloween outing

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“Young Frankenstein,” now playing in Lake Forest through Oct. 30, fits a  seasonal demand for monsters and weird scientists that is tempered by Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder humor.

Parker Guidry (Igor) and Nick Miller (Dr. Frankenstein) in Lake Forest Theatre's "Young Frankenstein
Parker Guidry (Igor) and Nick Miller (Dr. Frankenstein) in Lake Forest Theatre’s “Young Frankenstein

Produced by the newly-formed Lake Forest Theatre, the show has terrific musical numbers performed by a talented cast of singers and hoofers. Its “Putting on the Ritz” interpretation of Irving Berlin’s great song and dance number is reason enough to drive to north-suburban Lake Forest.

However, it is fun to watch Nick Miller (Dr. Frederick Frankenstein) change persona. Under the influence of Igor, played with Marty Feldman-style flair by Parker Guidry, Miller morphs from a respected surgeon who pronounces his name as “Franensteen” so people won’t associate him with his Transylvanian ancestors to a scientist drawn to bringing the dead to life.

A Second City Conservatory alum, Miller is a master of the type of riotous facial expressions that turned “Young Frankenstein” into the hit 1974 musical horror parody that starred the late Gene Wilder. Brooks and Wilder had written the screenplay.

Sarah Larson who has performed with Light Opera works and Drury Lane is delightful as Miller’s sexy assistant, Inga. Christie Burgess-Martino, a drama and musical theater teacher, is funny as Miller’s fiancé who falls deeply in love with the monster and one of his body parts. Yes, the show retains its off-color jokes but young kids probably won’t get them.

Audiences may remember Edward  MacLennan (Monster) who was brilliant as Dr. Craven in Lake Forest Theatre’s first production, “Secret Garden,” last spring. He is just as good as the monster in “Young Frankenstein.”

Another terrific performance is that of Gina Guarino as Frau Blucher, the Frankenstein housekeeper. And it was no surprise to this reviewer that the young villager with a couple of good lines turned out to be 10-year-old Zachary Fewkes who played Young Patrick to perfection in Light Opera Works’ recent “Mame.”

Directed by Lake Forest Theatre founder, Steve Malone and co-directed and choreographed by Cameron Turner with supurb lighting design by David Miller, the show is a fine start to what promises to be an excellent 2016-17 season for the new suburban theater company.

Details: “Young Frankenstein is in the John and Nancy Hughes Theater at Gorton Community Center,  400 E Illinois Road, Lake Forest, IL 60045. For tickets and other information call (847) 604-4975, email pamila@LakeForestTheatre.org and visit Lake Forest Theatre.

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