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Teen critic Curry on ‘Young Frankenstein’: Funny and scary

By Malin Curry

Eleven Charlotte-area high school students are competing in the new theater criticism category of the Blumey Awards, the Blumenthal Performing Arts’ annual musical theater awards program (read more about that here.) Each student writes three reviews; the following is one entry:

The Central Academy of Tech and Arts production of “Young Frankenstein” is the epitome of both comedy and horror. With characters such as: the “terrible” hunchbacked servant Igor (T.J. Schmidt) and the lovely yodeling Inga (Lindsey Sherrin), it’s not hard to see why.

“Young Frankenstein” tells the story of Dr. Fredrick Frankenstein (it’s pronounced FRONK-en-steen) as he rids himself of an unwanted legacy with which his grandfather, the creator of the first Frankenstein’s monster, has unwittingly cursed him. He takes great lengths to rid himself of his family name, even moving halfway around the world to New York and getting his Ph.D. in neuroscience. And perhaps the Frankensteins’ shameful name would have been forgotten, had it not been for the night when a messenger knocks upon Frankenstein’s door to deliver news of his grandfather’s passing.

He rushes to Transylvania to tend to his grandfather’s affairs and is astounded by what he finds: A bitter maid who longs for him “to join the family business” (making monsters), an eager servant and a horde of angry townspeople who believe he is up to no good. After a series of comical events, Dr. Frankenstein finds himself in the hot seat, as his recently created monster stands up for the very first time.

A pre-performance warning informed the audience that “Young Frankenstein” is a PG-13 show, and there was a possibility that certain risqué subjects would arise during its progression. And arise they did. From scandalous romances to talks of Frankenstein’s monster’s rather large “endowments” to Frau Blucher’s (Kelsey Ward) boyfriend issues, “Young Frankenstein” never failed to keep the audience’s mouths agape with laughter.

The cast delivers amazing performances, on par with those of a Broadway play. I was particularly surprised at Nkeki Obi-Melekwe’s performance as Frankenstein’s fiancée, Elizabeth Benning. During her first vocal number, “Please Don’t Touch Me,” she shocked the audience with her surreal, shining voice.

I was, however, particularly surprised by Kevin Kent (Dr. Frankenstein), who underplayed his role. Due to the high level of originality this play employed, I wished Kent had depicted a unique version of the famous mad scientist, rather than the highly clichéd version he chose to portray.

Although, all aspects of “Young Frankenstein” from the actors to the sets and even the costumes were great, there was one variable that was so elegantly used it literally outshone the rest of the performance: the lighting. In the beginning of Act 2, a light danced across the curtains, acting as a spotlight for the upcoming presentation Dr. Frankenstein had prepared. During his presentation, the monster danced in front of a synchronized shadow that comically teased him behind his back. Lighting accounts for 99 percent of the visual appeal “Young Frankenstein” possesses and therefore is the key element to the success of this play.

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The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email local@charlotteobserver.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.

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