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Young Frankenstein - Darlington Theatre Players

Updated: Jul 1

Reviewed by Kate O'Sullivan


If you're a lover of camp, high-energy, trope-y musicals, you can't go past Young Frankenstein. Based on the 1974 movie by Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks, the Broadway musical is just as parody-filled as one would hope. Darlington Theatre Player's current sell-out season lives up to the hype and brings out the best in the genre.

Performances-wise, there isn't really a weak link in the cast, with all the leading players leaning hard into the tropes and archetypes that the show demands. All of these actors also lean into the physicality, with special mention to the energy of both Rp van der Westhuizen and Aaron Lucas for their Igor and The Monster respectively. The ensemble is having a ball, from the big village dance numbers to the hilariously costumed "Join the Family Business". There are times in some songs that the wordiness and jokes get slightly lost through the thick accents being used, and the occasional accent that takes a bit of a geographic wander, but not in a way that meaningfully detracts from the show.

Technically, the show has packed in as much as you can in a short space and time. The lighting highlights the 'horror' genre, with some lovely little details like the flickering on of the wash in the laboratory, and the lighting of the orchestra through the stained glass at the back of the stage. There were moments where the sound balance favoured the band over the singers and a couple of misbehaving mic packs, but they were all handled with aplomb by the cast and crew where possible. The scene changes are significant in this show, with large set pieces being moved with quick precision by the crew. Costumes are delightful, cohesive and enhance the storytelling, with a particular shout-out to Yvette Drager Wetherilt's wigs across the show.

Musically and choreographically, you can see that this show has been drilled and makes the best of the vocal talent across the cast. Sound balance aside, the orchestra are excellent, and the lovely addition of some familiar band faces stepping out to do the barbershop quartet was an audience favourite. The choreography highlights the skills of some of the ensemble dancers, without feeling like an arbitrary showcase.

Young Frankenstein is a lively spectacle guided by a grand, 'big-budget musical' vision. The production's flawless execution and unwavering energy explain its rapid ticket sales; securing a spot on the waitlist is advisable for anyone keen on a trip to Transylvania.

Sarah McCabe (Frau Blucher). Aaron Lucas (The Monster), Felix Malcom (Frederick Frankenstein), Tatum Stafford (Inga), Rp van der Westhuizen (Igor). Image Credit: Sean Breadsell - Immaculate Photography.

Reviewer Note: Kate has performed and worked with a number of members of this cast and crew, and has previously performer at Marloo Theatre. Tickets for this review were provided by the theatre company.


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