Review: Young Frankenstein. Little Theatre Company (Burton-on -Trent)

Because of an unexpected National Rail Strike I was totally unable to come over to the Brewhouse Arts Centre to see and review the Saturday afternoon showing of Young Frankenstein the Mel Brooks musical by the Little Theatre Company but … as rare good fortune has it, a couple of retired musical theatre friends based in Derby got in touch to say they had seen the show on Thursday night and loved it. They are not reviewers but have spent a lifetime in amateur musical theatre and know their stuff. So, I asked (begged on my decrepit knees) them to consider being guest reviewers for this review. Thankfully they agreed but were sweet enough to stipulate that they aren’t theatre writers. I think their knowledge and enthusiasm shines through in their words -which I have edited as one voice – and I hope The Little Theatre – Burton on Trent will be happy with their four-star review. Phil Lowe

“Being old enough to remember seeing Mel Brooks’ black and white comedy film Young Frankenstein at the cinema in the 1970s and having purchased an LP (how ancient) which at the time consisted of incidental music and the comedy text soundtrack (Putting On The Ritz was a real ear worm song) we were keen to see the show in nearby Burton as we had missed it when it was on in the West End. Now you can download music (how awfully modern and instantaneous) we are familiar with the songs in the Young Frankenstein musical and love the likes of ‘Together Again’, the hilarious ‘Roll In The Hay’, ‘He Vas My Boyfriend’, ‘Welcome To Transylvania’, ‘Listen To Your Heart’ and the comedy torch song ‘Hang The Doctor’. We are always singing these around the house. Our neighbours must think Dr Fronkensteen, Igor and Inga have moved in! I’m not saying when we sing ‘Roll In Ze Hay’ together but Saturday nights together have improved beyond recognition…!”

“So we booked for the Thursday night showing and never having seen this group perform before we weren’t sure what to expect. You always hope things are going to work out okay not just for the audience but also for the performers. We needn’t have worried. It was fabulous.”

“Whilst the sets used at the Brewhouse Arts Centre were minimal there was enough onstage to suggest locations and some projection was used to add depth and interest to the piece. What came across for us was the joy that the very good cast seemed to be having on stage. Our faces were aching from smiling and laughing the whole time and we couldn’t stop talking about it all the way home. John Bowness has directed Young Frankenstein extremely well and the production is very professionally put across for an amateur cast.”

” The show was slick, smutty and totally daft. Well, you’d hope it would be, it is Mel Brooks. Oliver Last as Doctor Frederick Frankenstein (that’s Fronkensteen btw) is the perfect deadpan foil to the unbelievably stupid Igor (or is that Egor?) played with great flexible physicality and comedic style by Dominic White. What a fantastic duo! You couldn’t ask for better actors to do it. We loved the slightly dim and bright-eyed saucy sex bomb playing of Inga by Sophie Towns. I think Geoff my husband loved her a bit too much.”

“In the film Elizabeth, the untouchable fiancée of Frederick Fronkensteen is a memorable figure played by the sexy Madeleine Kahn. In this stage production Scarlett Winson brings her own class and classy style of comedy to the role and it works a treat. The other unforgettable female character is the oddball castle housekeeper Frau Blucher (cue terrified horses sound effect). Kate Haywood nailed this part completely and made us almost forget Gloris Leachman’s original Mel Brooks’ film creation.”

“Jim Haywood was brilliant as the poor Frankenstein created monster. He was very funny but you felt so sorry for him as he was hunted and cajoled by the villagers. Another great part for any actor to play and Mr Haywood did it total justice. “

“The costumes are really exceptionally good and the whole ensemble certainly put their whole hearts and voices into this super duper production of Young Frankenstein. As we said, we are not reviewers and don’t have the means of expressing everything so well like the brilliant established and professional reviewers of East Midlands Theatre but as mere audience members we had a brilliant time and truth be told we can be quite critical privately. Definitely not so in this case. This showing of Young Frankenstein will live in our memories for a long time and we’d be happy to come back and see any other production by this talented Staffordshire based amateur musical theatre company – if it is this good. We would like to give it four stars. Thanks to Phil Lowe and East Midlands Theatre for the chance to say what we thought.” Linda and Geoff.

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