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Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on October 25th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 34 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 18, Issue 34

Santa Maria Civic's production of Young Frankenstein features a remarkable cast

Puttin' on the Hit

By REBECCA ROSE

There is probably nothing in the world Mel Brooks loves more than a great tap dance number.


IT’S ALIVE!
(left to right) Diana Diaz, Christina Landeros, and Kyle Hawkins play Frau Blucher, Elizabeth Benning, and Igor respectively in the Santa Maria Civic Theatre’s new production of Young Frankenstein, running through Nov. 5.
PHOTO COURTESY OF SANTA MARIA CIVIC THEATRE

Young Frankenstein, currently showing at the Santa Maria Civic Theatre, has one of the most infectious of all of the musical numbers in productions based on hit Brooks’ films. “Puttin on the Ritz” is such a famous and well-loved number, the scene from the original movie ranks as one of the funniest ever in the history of cinema.

Most know it as the impossibly absurd tap number set to Irving Berlin’s classic song, where Dr. Frankenstein (that’s “frank-en-steen,” remember) shows his creation’s humanity and potential. Watching Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle in the original 1974 production is never not funny. It’s the perfect execution of comedic timing and Brooksian absurdity.

For the musical version of the movie, which hit Broadway in 2007, Brooks once again turned to his love of tap to create a big loud board stomper, which recalls elements of everything from A Chorus Line to Crazy For You. It’s an ambitious tap number requiring great precision (especially in that glorious ricochet of cane taps on the floor) and the ensemble at the SMCT pulled it off quite impressively, so much so that I quietly whispered “well, now” under my breath as they hit their last note.

Director Sally Buchanan understands one of the best things to do in community theater is to keep things moving and avoid flat moments of unnecessary exposition. She keeps the audience constantly focused on the wild action, musical numbers, and the momentum of each comedic bit and musical number so as not to give them time to notice the sausage being made, so to speak.

The musical itself is solid perfection, and it’s elevated by the performances of one of the tightest casts I’ve seen so far. Cody Fogh (Frederick Frankenstein), Todd Buranen (The Monster), and Kyle Hawkins (Igor aka “Eye-gore”) completely owned each of their roles and worked well together as a trio.

Fogh has an electric sense of comedy that is alive like a firecracker on his face. His expressions are almost a character in and of themselves, playfully keying the audience into selected double entendres or saying more with a twist of his eyebrow than a lot of actors can say in their loudest “back of the house” voice.

Buranen completely nailed The Monster, from his booming goofy voice to the boxy clumsy dance moves for the big tap number. Buranen put a huge swaying ship on the stage of oafish fun and embodied him with the soul of Fred Astaire. There was not one moment when he was on stage when I didn’t think he was an absolute star, a spectacular feat for someone with almost no actual spoken dialogue.

Also, Sarah Buchanan’s makeup job for The Monster absolutely deserves some highlight here. The play between shadows and highlights really worked to accentuate the actor’s countenance and amplify the performance.

Actress Christina Landeros and her gorgeous assortment of vintage gowns (also courtesy of Sarah Buchanan) positively radiated as Elizabeth Benning, Dr. Frankenstein’s affection-averse fiance. She has some of the brightest comedic spots in the whole show, and I left wanting to see more of her in the future.

The biggest surprise of the night was the return of Craig Scott, who is back after two years. He is an absolute scene stealer every moment he comes on stage. His physicality is just magical, and his scenes as the Hermit are absolutely hilarious.

Overall, Young Frankenstein is a well-produced version of a timeless hit that owes much of its success to an outstanding and multi-talented cast.

Rebecca Rose loves the brain, too. Contact her at rrose@santamariasun.com.




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