Victoria College Dramatic Society’s brand-new musical, Young Frankenstein, debuted last week at the Isabel Bader Theatre. Director Madeleine King and her tireless crew and cast are back in full swing with this impressive reimagining of Mel Brooks’ iconic 1974 piece and Mary Shelley’s timeless cautionary tale of human ambition and desire gone haywire. 

With a happier ending to the well-known and loved story, Young Frank follows the story of an ecstatic scientist as she discovers the depths of friendship, love, and sexuality. Chronicling the journey of one chaotic character after another, this show was comedic gold, filled to the brim with talented performers, and an absolute joy to watch from beginning to end.

Many are familiar with the classic story of Victor Frankenstein and his ill-fated scientific endeavours. But do most know anything about his estranged granddaughter, Dr. Freida Frankenstein? A skilled physician who becomes exasperated at the slightest mention of her grandfather, Dr. Frankenstein — or as she calls him, “Dr. Fronkensteen” — Freida is troubled by her family’s reputation, yet compelled to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps. 

The choice of gender-swapping the main character was ingenious, as Jordan Davis’ “Dr. Freida Frankenstein” was ever-so-charming in her centre-stage role as the heart and soul of this production. Davis’ ability to quickly capture her character’s panicked and pretentious nature, her facial expressions, along with her immaculate talent for physical comedy made her a delight to watch. I look forward to seeing what else Davis will take on in the future. 

Additionally, Eleanor Wiens Farrelly was nothing short of hilarious and magnetic, performing her heart out as Igor — Dr. Frankenstein’s hunchbacked, bug-eyed, loyal servant. Another supremely talented actress completed their perfect comedic trio: Siobhán Gyulay played the adorable, kind-hearted, and beautiful Inga, showcasing an incredible musical and vocal range. I almost fell off my chair at her rendition of “Roll in the Hay,” where she perfectly executed the subtle double-entendres and ridiculousness of this immensely funny number, assuring us that we were strapped in for a good time. Details like her taking hay out of her hair throughout the show put the biggest smile on my face. 

I cannot help but mention the stunning performances of Frau Blucher (Karen Hopkins), Elizabeth Benning (Mai-Yin Johnston), and The Monster/Mr. Hilltop (Hunter Moore). Upon arriving at Transylvania, Dr. Frankenstein’s life is turned upside down by her encounter with Frau Blucher, the housekeeper of her inherited estate. Delivering perfect femme fatale energy, Hopkins had me on my toes the entire night, wondering what she would do next. 

Lurking primarily in the shadows in deceptive ways, she has her moment in the spotlight with “He Vas My Boyfriend,” which ended up being my favourite musical number of the night — along with Johnston’s “Please Don’t Touch Me” at the beginning of the show. Both Hopkins and Johnston exemplified the personas of their effortlessly powerful characters with lit-from-inside confidence and sensuality. I was most pleased with the delicious marriage of chair choreography, shakes, stomps, one-liner jokes and their impeccable charisma to display it all. 

Throughout the night, the delicate usage of lighting and the swift yet poignant movement of the actors on stage created one of the most enjoyable theatre experiences I’ve had for a long time. I will remember Young Frank for its intelligent lighting usage and flawless timing in utilizing sound effects. 

It is impossible to skim over the wonderful dance sequences of Moore’s Monster and Hopkins’ Blucher. Separated by a white sheet, the two added an incredibly dramatic flare to the show. 

Young Frank managed to tastefully break the fourth wall — something which is, in actuality, a very difficult task. I deeply enjoyed the small bits and pieces where cast members interacted with audience members, coming close to their seats and offering camped-up drama the entire time. 

It is safe to say that the show had a few drawbacks: the constant moving of set pieces, the occasional hiccups in placing tables and locking things in place hampered the overall fluidity of the show. In other instances, the overwhelming and repetitive reactions of the town villagers to Dr. Frankenstein’s loose Monster interrupted the smooth storytelling. The audience was subjected to a multitude of occasions of villager mania that I wish had been reined in. 

Overall, though, Young Frank was one of the most singular experiences of drama I’ve had at U of T. From its amazing cast, musical pieces, set design, and production, one can see just how many hours of work and dedication it took to put on one hell of a show. A huge congratulations to all those involved! Your verve for comedy, drama, and art left me only more excited to see what else can be cooked up by students in our beloved community.