BWW Reviews: Fringe Review: GIRAFFENSTEIN, Frankenstein with Singing and Dancing Giraffes

‚Äč
BWW Reviews: Fringe Review: GIRAFFENSTEIN, Frankenstein with Singing and Dancing Giraffes

This original one-act pop musical aims high and often hits its mark although it may not be the musical you think it's going to be. While it contains a fair amount of wry humor, don't expect the kind of silliness you found in The Pokemusical, the team's entry into last year's Fringe Festival. This twist on the Frankenstein story has a more sophisticated harmonic structure and a richer musical texture that gives it an edge while still delivering a lot of fun for the money.

The ensemble handles the singing beautifully and there is plenty of funny choreography and quirky direction. It's an all-animal cast so they've also found creative ways to modify their appearances which makes for some great sight gags. Forearm crutches, high heels and grease paint are the main elements for the giraffes; boot walker casts and football shoulder pads complete Josh Hillinger's transformation into a rhino; and rhinestones, black leather pants and fur turn Seth Salsbury into the kind of lion who would be completely at home in a revival of CATS. (Someone cast that boy in Rocky Horror Picture Show already. He'd make a great Frank N. Furter).

GIRAFFENSTEIN follows the callous Dr. Giraffenstein (James Penca) and his failed attempts to create a superior being, in this case the first giraffe who can eat from the top of the tree, and raises questions about how much responsibility we have to that which we create. When its jokes land it is hilarious but the humor is still hit or miss.

The tone of the book is often quite dark and there are gaps in the story that could use more explanation. It's unclear why the doctor's fiancé (Katharine Kelly McDonough) agreed to marry him in the first place since all she does is complain about him or why the Monster (Edred Utomi) tells Dr. Giraffenstein he'll never see him again but then comes back to confront him near the end of the story. The show currently has a running time of about 75 minutes so there is plenty of room for it to expand. Odd though it is, GIRAFFENSTEIN still has a lot going for it.

There are lessons about acceptance and standing up for yourself, as well as how important it is to find a place we can call home. Technically, this is also a good example of how to create a movable set on a budget that gets the job done and still delights with its ingenuity. Two reversible set pieces are hand-painted to create the expansiveness of the Serengeti and they even manage to make the sun rise in a creative way.

Book and music: Alex Syiek
Direction and musical staging: Joanna Syiek
Musical direction: Jennifer Lin
Sound Design: Corwin Evans
Set and Lighting Design: Eric Mitchell

GIRAFFENSTEIN
June 8 - 29, 2014
Lillian Theatre, 1076 Lillian Way
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Tickets are $10 at http://hff14.org/1888
www.colorandlighttheatre.org

For more Los Angeles Musical Theatre news follow @MusicalsinLA on Twitter

Photo credit: Rich Clark

BWW Reviews: Fringe Review: GIRAFFENSTEIN, Frankenstein with Singing and Dancing Giraffes
L-R: James Penca, Seth Salsbury and Josh Hillinger
BWW Reviews: Fringe Review: GIRAFFENSTEIN, Frankenstein with Singing and Dancing Giraffes
L-R: Kelley Dorney, Ian Klingenberg, Kelsey Schulte
and Katie DeShan
BWW Reviews: Fringe Review: GIRAFFENSTEIN, Frankenstein with Singing and Dancing Giraffes
Seth Salsbury
BWW Reviews: Fringe Review: GIRAFFENSTEIN, Frankenstein with Singing and Dancing Giraffes
Katharine Kelly McDonough and James Penca
BWW Reviews: Fringe Review: GIRAFFENSTEIN, Frankenstein with Singing and Dancing Giraffes
James Penca and Edred Utomi

More Los Angeles!
Go to the Homepage


Comment & Share


About Author

Subscribe to Author Alerts
Ellen Dostal In addition to being part of the west coast Broadway World team, Ellen also publishes two popular Southern California Theatre Blogs - Musicals in LA and Shakespeare in LA. An actress, singer and voiceover artist, she is also a producer with the Academy for New Musical Theatre, and works with the development of new musicals across the country.


Advertisement
 
🔀LOS ANGELES SHOWS
I Love Lucy Live on Stage in Los AngelesI Love Lucy Live on Stage
(Runs 11/28 - 11/29)
Kinky Boots in Los AngelesKinky Boots
(Runs 11/11 - 11/30)
Grease
(Runs 9/18 - 11/30)
Oklahoma! in Los AngelesOklahoma!
(Runs 11/8 - 12/6)
The Sound of Music in Los AngelesThe Sound of Music
(Runs 11/28 - 12/7)

View All | Add Show | Auditions

Message Board

BWW BLOGS

Advertisement