La Mirada Theatre’s revival of Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein is a certain cure for the post-pandemic blues. This hilarious send-up of the Mary Shelley classic never seems to lose its irreverent vitality. Director Jeff Whiting lets loose his performers to go straight for the belly laughs and the result is outright therapeutic hilarity.
Brooks’ brilliant piece is actually a mishmash of several theatrical traditions, including Borscht Belt sketches, Yiddish theater, British music hall and commedia dell’arte. Brooks’ approach is that if it gets a laugh, go for it. Slapstick, mugging for the audience, naughty innuendo and outright silliness are all fair game. The brilliance of Brooks is that he never gets too far ahead of the audience. We are always right there with him, however outrageous or juvenile the jocularity.
La Mirada Theatre, as always, puts on a great show, particularly with its revivals of musicals. Unlike some of the touring Broadway shows, La Mirada enlists top local talent to strut their stuff. The cast here is no exception. A.J. Holmes is delightfully versatile in the starring role of Dr. Frankenstein, with just the right mix of naïve and skeptical. Maggie Ek is a delight as Inga the lab assistant, as is Wesley Slade, who provides non-stop laughs as Igor.
While Sally Struthers was unable to perform the night I saw it because of illness, Elle May Patterson stepped and offered a beguiling and rich performance as Frau Blucher. Sarah Wolter was simply magnificent as Elizabeth Benning, as was Gregory North in his dual roles as Inspector Kemp and the Hermit. Kudos all around to the cast and to La Mirada Theatre for lifting us out of the doldrums!