Starting Friday, Oct. 15, Lake Helen two-steps into the spooky season with Shoestring Theatre’s latest musical offering, Young Frankenstein, the Musical. Based on the 1974 Mel Brooks film of the same name (which has been described by Brooks as his best film), the musical is a parody of the Universal Pictures film adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and its sequel Son of Frankenstein.
After the Broadway success of The Producers, Mel Brooks teamed again with Thomas Meehan to put together another smash musical comedy.
Transylvania is the happiest town after the death of a local mad scientist who had a history of building undead monsters and setting them loose on the inhabitants. Inspector Kemp (played by the dis-armingly charming David Santiago) stops the funeral revelry with the sudden revelation that the dead mad scientist has a grandson and, through the beauty of theater magic, we are transported to New York City, 1934.
Shoestring darling Joshua Freeman is Freddy Frankenstein (that’s pronounced Fronk-N-Steen), a New York City doctor, and the dean of anatomy at the Johns, Miriam and Anthony Hopkins School of Medicine. He has worked his entire life to separate himself from his grandfather, Victor Frankenstein’s (Bob Sollien) work.
However, his grandfather has recently died, leaving Freddy the issue of settling the Transylvanian estate. His “adorable, madcap fiancee,” Elizabeth Benning (Tiffany Demps) sends him on his way without a single touch.
When Freddy gets to Transylvania, he is immediately assailed by his biggest fan, the hunchback Igor, played hilariously by charismatic comedian Steve Gelovich. After correcting the pronunciation of his own name (Eyegor), Igor and Freddy become fast friends.
Before they can go up to the castle, Igor brings up the small matter of the assistant he’s hired: Inga (Kirsten Kiwior-Taylor), a yodeling lab assistant with a master’s degree from the local community college.
After a roll in the hay (it’s not what it sounds like … or maybe it is, who even knows anymore?), they make it to Castle Frankenstein, and we are introduced to Victor’s housekeeper, Frau Blucher (Pat Prudente Justin), whose name drives the horses to violent fearful neighing, and who has dirty secrets of her own. Like, really dirty.
From there, Frau and Igor (and Freddy’s dead grandfather) push for Freddy to embrace his heritage as a mad scientist, join the family business, and build a Monster (Tim Akers) of his very own design.
Young Frankenstein has it all: undead giants, rhymes that mostly work, double-entendres, angry mobs, violins and French horns! We’ve got werewolves, vampires, a seemingly endless array of fur coats, we’ve got boiling-hot soup poured in delicate places, and we’ve got Irving Berlin’s “Puttin’ on the Ritz” (for some reason).
And we’ve got an ensemble like nobody’s business, including Brian Casey, Penney Friedrich, Brihanna Gaytan, Rae Harrell, D’Montrae Harris, Carole Dousmanis-King, Liz Lavery, Eli Lemoine, Sophia Mercado, Jaidyn Richardson, Lorenzo Richardson, April Siciliano and Maya Swain.
Produced by Anne Sollien, directed by yours truly, stage-managed by Lori Lemoine, with music directed by Tiffany Demps and choreographed by Andrea “Fosse” O’Reilly, this show is a Shoestring family affair you do not want to miss. So, “grab a steamship, or a plane-ia, to the heart of old …” well, Lake Helen, which doesn’t rhyme, but you get the point!
This season, there are some added attractions! On opening night, we will feature the WanderBar with one Frankenstein-themed drink included with each admission (nonalcoholic also available). For the closing matinee, we will feature the Happy Howie’s Homemade Ice Cream Truck bringing the yummy flavors to the Shoestring parking lot! A great way to top off an afternoon of laughter!
Young Frankenstein, the Musical runs three weekends starting Friday-Sunday, Oct. 15-17, followed by Oct. 22-24, and Oct. 29-31. Evening shows (Fridays and Saturdays) are at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday matinees are at 2:30 p.m.
Tickets cost $22 for adults, $20 for senior citizens, and $15 for students. Purchase tickets online at shoestringtheatre.net, or by calling the theater box office at 386-228-3777.
Shoestring Theatre is at 380 S. Goodwin St. in Lake Helen.