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Laugh-a-mania in Rhinebeck

Theater Review
by Kevin T. McEneaney
Sat Oct 15th, 2016

Dietz Farcher and the cast of Young Frankenstein

In Rhinebeck there’s a special place where people can go for two-and-a-half hours of silliness: The Center for Performing Arts on weekends. Director-choreographer Kevin Archambault has landed the zaniest hit of the year with Mel Brooks’ 2007 musical Young Frankenstein produced by Diana di Grandi’s UP-in-One outfit. Based on Brooks’ 1974 film of the same name, the musical is packed with amusing and ridiculous lyrics. There are many differences from the 1974 film, enough changes that this production will offer surprises.

Archambault has found voices to bring the production to a fever pitch. It’s the occasion of a production in which all actors have nailed their roles with expressive self-confidence and they revel in that over-the-top energy and intoxicating joy. The audience walked out in a trance of smiles, feeling as if they were walking on air.

Dietz Farcher as the grandson Doctor Frankenstein makes the roots pilgrimage from 1934 Manhattan to his grandfather’s castle in Transylvania where he relives his grandfather’s story. Fair-voice Farcher resembles early Orson Welles in boyish demeanor and pluck in his heroic role. Rocco Palmieri as Igor delivers the voice, impishness, and not unexpected off-the-wall humor as Igor. Aubrey Flick as Inga provides accent, spontaneity, and startlingly wonderful voice. Victoria Howland as Elizabeth the flirt nails high notes with effortless grace.

Elaine del Rio, recently retired from singing for 24 years in the New York Metropolitan Opera, as Frau Blucher offers humor with panache and a voice that would tempt anyone to return to hear her sing again. Bobby Greffrath, as the Monster, lumbers incoherently with aplomb and when he breaks out with his upper crust English accent he’s a hoot. Bill Ross, as Inspector Hans Kemp, winks with the hallmark of a veteran character actor dotting all his i’s to perfection.  

But the dancing! A well-honed Busby Berkley riot awaits you. The medley of dance routines alone offers a series of show-stoppers. Lobsang Camacho has always been the Center’s in-house costume perfectionist, yet he has managed to outdo himself in this riotous production. The orchestra under Jeri Burns doesn’t miss a beat. The whole production sparkles like a meteor storm.

Opening night was sold out. I expect that the Center will enjoy packed seats for their hilarious run on weekends through November 6. Tickets are $25 0r $27. So book early and book often at (845) 876-3080 or go to: http://www.centerforperformingarts.org/