Young Frankenstein – laughing like it’s 1974

It was a cool evening circa 1974 when my family, along with visiting relatives, piled into a Volkswagen Bus and drove over to the Burlingame Drive-In to watch the Mel Brooks/Gene Wilder movie Young Frankenstein.

I was about 6 years old, so most of the details of that evening have been lost to the fog of time, but I distinctly recall the laughter. All of us laughed so hard that tears were running down our cheeks. It’s a memory that’s been recounted more than once at family reunions over the years. Good times.

Fast forward to last Friday. My wife and I, along with friends Paul and Barb, attended the Ferndale Repertory Theatre’s production of Young Frankenstein, a musical adaptation of the movie written by Brooks and Thomas Meehan.

In terms of laughter, seeing the live musical version of Young Frankenstein, directed by Leira V. Satlof, was like being in that Volkswagen Bus four and a half decades ago. It was non-stop hilarity.

Like the movie, the musical tells the story of Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, who stands to inherit the Translyvania estate of his infamous grandfather, Victor Frankenstein. Frederick Frankenstein, a character deftly portrayed by actor Rigel Alexander Schmitt, considers himself a man of science and reason, and rejects his grandfather’s crazy ideas, until he doesn’t.

The musical includes a lot of bawdy fun, hence a warning from the theater that the musical is intended for viewers 15 years of age or older.

It’s the kind of material that was probably inspired by Mel Brooks early years working the nightclubs of the Borscht Belt in the Catskill Mountains. There’s a vaudeville quality to the show, with upbeat music, risqué jokes and double entendres.

And the Ferndale cast is able to pull it off without a hitch. There are so many good performances – Schmitt as Dr. Frankenstein, Denise L Ryles as Igor, Johanna Lena Turney as Inga, Greta Turney as Frau Blucher, Emma Johnstone as Elizabeth, David Powell as Inspector Kemp and, of course, Jaison Chand as The Monster.

Go see Young Frankenstein. You’ll have a great time and you’ll laugh like it’s 1974.

Young Frankenstein runs weekends from through Oct. 28 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $18 general admission, $16 students (15-college), $16 seniors (60-plus). The theatre recommends that audience be 15 year of age or older.

Purchase tickets online at, or call (707) 786-5483.


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