What hump? "Young Frankenstein" comes to the Garde

AJ Holmes, left, plays Frederick Frankenstein, Christopher Timson plays Igor and Elizabeth Pawlowski plays Inga in the Mel Brooks musical.
AJ Holmes, left, plays Frederick Frankenstein, Christopher Timson plays Igor and Elizabeth Pawlowski plays Inga in the Mel Brooks musical.

Christopher Timson knows there are some things he just can't mess with.

When you're playing Igor in the musical version of "Young Frankenstein," after all, there are certain moments you simply have to play like a certain predecessor.

"Even the director said, 'You have to say "Abby Normal" like Marty Feldman does in the movie because that's what everyone's waiting for.' There are lines you just can't avoid, like, 'What hump?' You've got to do it like he does it," Timson says.

"But that's also part of the fun. The audience are waiting for it. And when you deliver that, the response is just so overwhelming."

As, no doubt, it will be when this "Young Frankenstein" grabs its top hat and cane and softshoes its way into the Garde Arts Center on Saturday. Yes, the musical that graced Broadway from 2007 to 2009 is based on Mel Brooks' 1974 film classic. Brooks added to the mix such songs as "Transylvania Mania" and "He Vas My Boyfriend."

Timson, 24, says he is the youngest actor to play Igor, and many of the rest of the performers are about the same age.

"The whole show has this new, youthful freshness, and we're bringing a new energy to it that audiences seem to really respond to," Timson says from a tour stop at Indiana University in Bloomington.

Timson had just come off a national tour of "Music Man," in which he played a member of a barbershop quartet, when he auditioned for "Young Frankenstein."

He loves the physical comedy in being Igor and what he describes as slapstick, old vaudeville-style humor.

Igor, he says, "is not 100-percent human, I don't think. He's got a little, like, monstrous creation in him. There are certain aspects of him that are like a puppy dog - he's energetic.

"One of my favorite things about him is that he has no awareness of personal space or personal boundaries. So he's constantly on top of people. He's always invading people's bubbles. So I just think that's really fun to play with."

It's also a physically challenging role. Timson, who's nearly 6 feet tall, does a lot of squatting and hunching over.

While he gets his own moving hunchback, courtesy of the design team, Timson can't approximate Marty Feldman's bug-eyed look. He does, though, try to accomplish what he can with make-up and then just be as wide-eyed as possible.

"This is one of the most fun in the shows and roles I've ever gotten to play," Timson says. "We're almost at 175 performances, and I'm still not tired of it. I mean, it's exhausting. It's one of the most physically demanding roles I've ever done. But it's also the most rewarding. It's really been so much fun. We're all having a blast up there."

"Young Frankenstein,"
3 and 8 p.m., Saturday, Garde Arts Center, 325 State St., New London; $40-$70; (860) 444-7373, gardearts.org.


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