Kevin Hafso Koppman (left) and Donny Gersondo in "Young Frankenstein." Photo courtesy of San Diego Musical Theatre
San Diego Musical Theatre’s production of Young Frankenstein is assuredly a treat for your pre-Halloween fun. Running through Oct. 28 at the Horton Grand Theatre in the Gaslamp Quarter, this incarnation of the Broadway musical based on Mel Brooks’ 1974 film captures all the wackiness and atmosphere of its progenitor. Under the direction of Larry Raben, it even manages to accommodate a large cast and multiple, fairly elaborate set pieces on the less than roomy Horton Grand stage.
The much-loved film was written by Brooks and Gene Wilder, who starred as Frederick Frankenstein. Brooks wrote the book for the musical with Thomas Meehan, and also composed the show’s music and lyrics. A couple of the tunes, like “Deep Love” and Frau Blucher’s “He Vas My Boyfriend” are actually worthy of the movie. The others are intermittently clever but far from essential.
SDMT’s cast is a stalwart one, though. As Frankenstein, Kevin Hafso Koppman channels Gene Wilder throughout, but he’s quite winning in his own right. Jonathan Sangster, a reliable supporting player around town, delivers big time as the hump-backed Igor, while Christine Hewitt is a howl as Frau Blucher (cue whinnying horses). Melina Kalomas is statuesque and un-self-conscious as Frederick’s narcissistic fiancée Elizabeth, and Kelly Derouin as Inga and Donny Gersonde as The Monster could be called this show’s fine iterations of beauty and the beast respectively.
An extended “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” choreographed by Daniel Smith, complete with top hats, tails, canes and Monster, rocks the old Horton Grand in this musical’s high point.
Young Frankenstein runs through Oct. 28 at the Horton Grand Theatre, downtown.
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.