Just in time for the spooky Halloween season and Homecoming 2019, the Lees-McRae Theatre Arts program will breathe life into one of our most well-known horror legends—with a Mel Brooks twist—as it presents the musical Young Frankenstein October 3–6.
Based on the 1974 movie of the same title, Young Frankenstein tells the story of Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (he prefers to pronounce it “Fronkensteen”) who is the grandson of the infamous Dr. Victor Frankenstein, maker of monsters. The young doctor may have inherited the family name and castle in Transylvania, but he did not inherit his family’s penchant for digging up bodies and reanimating them with a lightning storm.
With typical irreverent and slightly naughty Mel Brooks humor, the jokes are fast and furious as he both satirizes and pays tribute to the Hollywood horror genre. Director Dr. Michael Hannah, associate professor of theatre arts, says the musical holds onto many of the visual and verbal gags that made the movie so popular nearly 40 years ago.
“Mel Brooks brought together some of the best comic actors to create an iconic comedy film, and he made sure the musical version retained the silliness and general insanity that always characterized his films,” Hannah said. “From Gene Wilder as the reluctant mad scientist to Marty Feldman as the eye-bulging Igor, the performances were stellar.”
“From Igor’s constantly migrating shoulder hump to the horses neighing every time Frau Blucher’s name is mentioned, the musical retains much of what made the movie so memorable.”
The musical features not only much of the original script’s jokes and dialogue but also includes Brooks’ own music and lyrics.
“I’ve always been amazed that he has so much talent,” Hannah said. “Not only is he a genius, but he also writes the music and lyrics to complement his script.”
The plot is set in 1934 and Brooks wrote the music to reflect the typical musical styles of that era. From vaudeville duets to a Hungarian rhapsody-like mad scientist number to a big tap production number set to Irving Berlin’s “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” the music provides a lively and fun counterpoint to the broad humor.
“Because it is from Mel Brooks, the humor is a little risqué,” Hannah said. “For that reason, the musical is rated PG-13 and probably wouldn’t be suitable for younger children.”
The cast is composed entirely of Lees-McRae students, including Logan Bryant as Frederick Frankenstein, Taylor Noll as his fiancée Elizabeth, Lillian North as Frau Blucher, JoBeth Hilton as Inga, Jesse Morris as Igor, DeVon Thomas as the Monster, and Jakob Sanchez as Inspector Kemp and the Hermit. Members of the ensemble are Gary Rice, Tanner Funderburk, Audrey Nidiffer, Bella Huey, Concepcion Mendoza, Juri Rojas, Elise Williams, Kathleen Farrell, Alexandra Schaney, and Sydney Lyles.
Kathy Den-Bleyker Thomas serves as music director, Shauna Godwin as choreographer, Danielle Curtis as scenic designer, Lydia Kitts as costume designer, Scott Koenig as sound designer and props master, and Mike Riggs as lighting designer.
Young Frankenstein will run Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 3–5, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 6, at 2 p.m. in Hayes Auditorium and Broyhill Theatre on the campus of Lees-McRae. Tickets may be purchased online here or at the door one hour prior to showtime. All seating is general admission. Tickets are $12 for adults and $5 for students.