PICK ASR! ~~ LASC’s Fabulous “Young Frankenstein” is Monstrous Laughs!

By Joanne Engelhardt

Whenever you go to a Mel Brooks production, you know you’re in for a barrel of laughs, sight gags, and a quirky plot. But when it’s also a musical with sensational actors, singers, and dancers, it’s a given that it’s going to be good.

The Los Altos Stage Company’s current production of Young Frankenstein isn’t just good.


(L-R) Bryan Moriarty as The Monster, and Joey Dippel as Dr. Frederick Frankenstein at work.

Director/choreographer Morgan Dayley has pushed her cast of 13 actors to the highest levels of absurdity to make this production zing. There’s hardly a false note anywhere, although this reviewer thought there were a few times when the onstage band conducted by Benjamin Belew played a tad too loudly to hear the zany lyrics being sung. But that’s a trifle because sold-out audiences like the one at last Sunday’s matinee couldn’t stop laughing, cheering and happily enjoying the whacky show.

Young Frankenstein is based on the 1974 comedy film written by Gene Wilder and Brooks. Brooks and Thomas Meehan began working on the musical version in 2006; it opened on Broadway the following year.

“… sold-out audiences … couldn’t stop laughing …”

In LASC’s production, it took just a little lime-colored headpiece and platform shoes to turn Bryan Moriarty into The Monster, but he was a perfect one. Other standout performers — in a cast that is uniformly excellent — are Dave Leon as Igor, Caitlin Gjerdrum as the rubber-faced Frau Blucher, an over-the-top Gwyneth Price Panos as Elizabeth and Keith Larson as the hapless one-eyed Inspector Kemp.

(L-R) Dave Leon as Igor, Joey Dippel as Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, & Gwenaveire Garlick as Inga.

Who’s left to mention? Why, Frankenstein’s heir, Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (fast-talking Joey Dippel), who is the dean of anatomy at a respected New York City medical school. This Frankenstein has spent his lifetime insisting he’s not a madman, but a scientist –- he even tries to distance himself by saying that his last name is pronounced “Fronk-en-steen.”

But when he finds out he has inherited his grandfather’s castle in Transylvania, he is forced to head there to resolve the issue of what to do with the property.
Eventually he meets all the people who work in the castle as well as a yodeling (and beautiful) lab assistant named Inga (a delightful Gwenaveire Garlick).

Joey Dippel as Dr. Frederick Frankenstein in “Young Frankenstein.”

Perhaps it’s best to let theatregoers discover all the charm and joys of LASC’s Young Frankenstein on their own because it’s got it all: Fine dance numbers, strong vocals, fun costumes (thanks to Lance Muller), a versatile set by Bryan Hornbeck, good sound (Chris Beer and Brian Foley) and lighting (Carol Fischer).

“Young Frankenstein” cast stepping it out!

And that rarity: A couple of tap numbers including Irving Berlin’s “Putting on the Ritz.” It’s worth the price of admission just to watch The Monster try to keep his top hat and lime headpiece on while tapping!

This show is 2 ½ hours of unadulterated fun including one 15-minute intermission. Go see it!


Aisle Seat Executive Reviewer Joanne Engelhardt is a Peninsula theatre writer and critic. She is a voting member of the SF Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle (SFBATCC). Contact: joanneengelhardt@comcast.net


ProductionYoung Frankenstein
Written byMel Brooks and Thomas Meehan. Music-Lyrics by M. brooks.
Directed byMorgan Dayley
Producing CompanyLos Altos Stage Co.
Production DatesThru June 23rd
Production Address97 Hillview Ave., Los Altos, CA
Reviewer ScoreMax in each category is 5/5
Aisle Seat Review PICK?YES!