Phoenix Theatre’s opening night of Young Frankenstein was a clever, hilarious, talent-filled feast. The professionalism of Phoenix Theatre continues to surprise me. They work out of a tin shed, but produce excellent works, with all the bells and whistles. Even the full colour programme was of professional standard.
The performers, strongly directed by Shane Webb, were not only powerhouse people, but genuinely looked like they were enjoying themselves. Igor (David McLaughlin) had the audience in the palm of his hand and he was able to milk every line and movement. Dr Frederick Frankenstein (Zach Price) had an exhausting role but he never skipped a beat and was a joy to listen to when singing. He handled a slight prop malfunction with professional aplomb and a small improv line to get things back on track and also save the stage manager a tidy up later. The song ‘Roll in the hay’ with Price and the adorable Inga (Vivien Wood) was a absolute treat. The clever staging and tight movements of this song was a real credit to the entire team. While I really enjoyed watching the whole ensemble, a special mention needs to go to Ziggy (Harley Coghlan) as the Village Idiot. He was on point and hilarious at every turn.
Webb’s cleverly designed set was functional and practical. Each piece had multiple uses, therefore taking away the need to store pieces in the wings. He did not try to make pieces look ‘real’, and in fact, highlighted the fact that they were fake looking, which just added to the Mel Brookes style of comedy. The set was moved swiftly by actors and back stage crew, keeping the action flowing at all times.
Lights were mainly well placed, and added to the laughs in one scene with the grimly hilarious Frau Blucher (Fiona Buchanan) having to chase the spotlight around the stage. Unfortunately the lights were too strong when trying to highlight a portrait of the dead Dr Victor von Frankenstein and all I could see was reflection. Although it may not have been that way for every seat in the house.
The unseen hero of this production was the band, expertly headed by Musical Director Benjamin Tubb-Hearne. Often when a live band or orchestra is used, it overpowers the actors’ voices and audiences are left straining to hear them. This was definitely not the case here. In fact, the music was so absolutely perfect that for a moment I thought they were using an expert backing track.
Young Frankenstein deserves packed audiences as everyone involved is really throwing their hearts into this one. It is playing at Phoenix Theatre in Beenleigh until 23 February and I would encourage anyone who likes a laugh to go along.
Photo credit: Ken Dickson