Yorkshire Times
Weekend Edition
Julia Pattison
Theatre Correspondent
9:55 AM 3rd February 2024

Musical: Young Frankenstein

Pick Me Up Theatre lived up to its name again and provided a very welcome tonic on a cold February evening with their latest production, Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein. Directed by Andrew Isherwood (who also had a cameo role as a hilarious hermit) and produced by Robert Readman (who delighted us with his usual "Wow!" factor when it came to also being in charge of scenery and costumes), this was a wonderfully wacky musical with nothing woke in it to muffle your mirth—an absolute joy from start to finish.

Gene Wilder and Brooks, who also directed the comedy film of the same name from 1974, wrote the screenplay for Young Frankenstein. The film is a parody of the horror film genre, especially the 1931 Universal Pictures adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and its 1935 and 1939 sequels, Bride of Frankenstein and Son of Frankenstein.

The cast should be commended for their professionalism, energy, and enthusiasm. Everyone involved, from principals to ensembles, put their heart and soul into their performances and was rewarded with loud appreciation from the audience throughout the show.

James Willstrop was outstanding in his role as Frederick Frankenstein, an esteemed New York brain surgeon and professor who inherited a castle and laboratory in Transylvania. How James managed to keep a straight face while Mayhem broke around him (scene stealing antics from Igor portrayed with brilliant comic timing by Jack Hooper ) is a credit to his professionalism on stage. Jennie Wogan-Wells commanded the stage as Frederick’s fiancée Elizabeth and wowed us all with her amazing voice. Please Don’t Touch Me was a real highlight number. Sanna Jeppson was a delight as seemingly innocent Inga, who soon showed her saucy side in the rollicking Roll in the Hay and many other numbers.

One of my favourite characters was Frau Blucher (cue terrified horses sound effect—an inspired touch), played with great zeal and excellent comic timing throughout by elen'Bells'Spencer. He Va Vas My Boyfriend was a particular triumph; what a voice!

Tom Riddolls was superb in his role as Inspector Kemp; we all looked forward to his appearances, especially his hilarious mannerisms, which defined his character so well. Craig Kirby brought The Monster to life beautifully and stole the show and our hearts in the iconic "Putting On The Ritz" number.

The music (by Musical Director Sam Johnson and his band) and choreography (by Ilana Weets) were out of this world, and along with special smoke effects, they helped to create the creepy atmosphere combined with comedy perfectly.

I loved every minute of this Transylvania Mania. Long may you all carry on entertaining. Pick me Up!

Young Frankenstein at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, until 3rd February 2024