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Newbury gives standing ovation to Chichester Conservatoire's bawdy parody

Newbury Spring Festival: University of Chichester Conservatoire: Young Frankenstein at the Corn Exchange on Thursday, May 12. Review by Robin Strapp

The University of Chichester Conservatoire make a welcome return to the Newbury Spring Festival with their exuberant production of Mel Brooks’ musical Young Frankenstein based on the 1974 movie – and it’s an absolute hoot!

These final year students perform with such pizzazz and talent as they embrace this zany production with relish and it’s inventively directed by Emma Kilbey.

Young Frankenstein
Young Frankenstein

It’s all very much tongue-in-cheek, hilarious, smutty comedy.

Bailey James Yates plays the grandson of the original Dr Frankenstein and brings an enthusiastic comic freshness to the role as he continues to experiment in trying to make a living creature from dead body parts and implant a new brain.

Inheriting the menacing Gothic Transylvanian castle, he is assisted by his hunchback servant Igor, hilariously performed by Joe Sutton.

Also helping in this grotesque experimentation is the seductive Inga, spiritedly played by Mya Boyd, much to the annoyance of Frankenstein’s flighty fiancée (Thea Peach).

Frau Blucher (Becky Herath) is the frightening eccentric housekeeper with a heavy mock Eastern European accent. You wouldn’t want to cross this fräulein.

And, of course, there is the monster, a sterling performance from Harris Owen who owned the part and gained much sympathy from the audience as he came to life.

There is a hilarious scene when the monster seeks companionship and meets the blind hermit (Luca Crawford) and shares a meal that goes terribly wrong, What fun!

The large hard-working ensemble of villagers under the watchful protection of Officer Kemp (Tristan Clemas) are a delight to watch.

The showstopping big tap dance number Putting On The Ritz was an outstanding celebration of musical theatre, with the stage filled with the company hoofing their way through this exhausting routine, led by the monster with breath-taking choreography by Damien Delaney.

Musical director Stuart Hutchinson created a rich big band sound from his talented orchestra and the cast sang with energy and verve.

Ryan Dawson-Laight’s clever design including projected scenery created the ominous castle with sweeping arches and was atmospherically lit by Andrew Bruce.

This bawdy parody was filled with many magical moments and well deserved the standing ovation.

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