Theatre by the Sea is the Happiest Theater in Town

I love Mel Brooks. I can still watch Blazing Saddles and crack up with each viewing! So going into Theatre by the Sea’s production of Young Frankenstein, I had high hopes. I was not disappointed.

You are seated and immediately your eyes are drawn to the beautifully painted scrim on stage. It’s painted in black and white, as a clever call-back to the film. As the overture begins, the credits begin to roll. No really, they have credits to start the show. It was a fantastic idea (and a nice shout out to the actors!). Kyle Dixon’s set is all black and white, another hat-tip to the original film. And kudos to Dixon who, without a lot of space to work with, turned the stage into Transylvania. Bailey Costa’s lighting design was spot-on (pun fully intended); however, a real big shout out to Leon Rothenberg’s sound design. There are running sound gags in the show, and it was a pleasure to witness a sound design that encompassed all the cleverness of the movie. William Ivey Long’s costumes, which were based on the OBP were stunning, but I have to acknowledge the hard word Marcia Zammarelli put into the wigs — even they were something to write home about.

Now let’s get on with the show. As per usual with TBTS, the big choral numbers sounded fantastic, and Kevin Hill’s choreography (he also directed) was fun.

Rhode Island’s own Tommy Labanais plays Frederick Frankenstein, and what a joy it is to watch him work! He can dance, his comedic timing is impeccable, and as his character points out, “I do sing.”

Brad Bradley was fantastic as Igor. And when he joined up with Labanis for “Together Again for the First Time,” you can’t help but hope they are together again onstage because their chemistry was palpable.

Rhode Island’s Tom Gleadow played Inspector Kemp and the Hermit. Although Gleadow played both roles sublimely, his number “Please Send Me Someone” was phenomenal.
Brian Padgett had the difficult job of playing the Monster, who does not have many words to work with. On top of that, portraying a character that everyone equates to the great Peter Boyle is a huge undertaking, to say the least. Padgett was hilarious, and made that famous number his own.

Sandy Rosenberg played Frau (insert neighing horse here) Bloucher. Not many performers can take control of an audience with just one look. Rosenberg can, and she did! I went home singing “He Vas My Boyfriend.” She was outstanding, and I hope she returns next season!

Sometimes the purpose of theater is to just entertain, and that’s what this show fulfills. There is something joyous and wonderful about attending a play simply to be entertained. I can’t wait to return to Theatre by the Sea next year … especially since they announced they’ll install air conditioning!

Young Frankenstein runs until September 6. Tickets can be purchased by calling 401-782-8587, or going by online at theatrebythesea.biz

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