Theatre Memphis to Present YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, 10/11-11/3
Young Frankenstein, the Mel Brooks stage adaptation of his movie parody, comes alive at Theatre Memphis on the Lohrey Stage October 11 - November 3, 2013. A wickedly inspired re-imaging of the Frankenstein legend, this musical version follows young Dr. Frankenstein, his odd and endearing helper, his gorgeous assistant and his madcap fiancée and a singing/dancing monster in a tuxedo. It is a funny monster mash-up perfect for high-energy entertainment.
Directing the decidedly campy and outrageous show, Cecelia Wingate says, "I'm not sure I can out Mel Brooks Mel Brooks ... but I am sure trying. There is not one piece of business that I don't think, 'Maybe I should just let the material speak for itself,' but then I think, this is freaking Mel Brooks, WWMBD?" To Wingate's credit, the music has been called some of the most difficult to perform, so the humor in the staging gives the cast some needed relief.
With a cast of almost 30, this production of Young Frankenstein is the first on the Lohrey Stage for new to Memphis and to Theatre Memphis designers Jack Yates and Paul McCrae. Resident Scenic Designer Yates, who hails from Oklahoma and was most recently employed by the Kalamazoo Playhouse in Kalamazoo, Michigan, has integrated the aspects of the story with the visual effects associated with the style of the show. "This show is bigger than people realize," he says. "So many moving parts and so many people to move around those parts. I've tried to incorporate that element of fun that is in keeping with what is going on on stage. This is one of the biggest shows I have ever designed and I couldn't have done it without my hero, Michael Compton (Technical Director, Theatre Memphis)."
Costume Designer McCrae, who came to Memphis from Threshold Repertory Theatre Co. in Charleston, South Carolina, met his own demons with the costume design and construction. "The multitude and volume that this show requires is something quite unique," McCrae says. "There are over 100 costumes requiring close to 400 pieces like capes and cloaks .. . the spread sheet alone to keep all this in order is a play, a horror story," he laughs. His biggest challenge, however, was one of his own making. "Frau Bleucher's sleeves ... I wanted this fan effect that came out like this and then ... oh well, you get the idea. I just had to figure it out."
Theatre Memphis Executive Director Debbie Litch says Young Frankenstein is the perfect choice for this slot in the 2013-14 Theatre Memphis season. "I applied for the rights for this show the second they came available ... and I wanted it for the Halloween slot," she claims. "It is always such fun to have a show that correlates to the season ... it has a built in audience. And with Cecelia's sense of comedic timing as a director, this is going to be one monster of a hit!" It should be noted, according to Litch, that there is some innuendo and content that may not be appropriate for a very young audience. "It is Mel Brooks, afterall."
The Halloween connection is not lost now that the show is now in production. On Halloween night, October 31, 2013, patrons will be encouraged to wear costumes and arrive early for a special witches brew. Also on that evening, a portion of all ticket proceeds will be donated to the Emergency Needs for the Theatre Artists Community (ENTAC) Fund, a fund to support local theatre artists with medical care expenses.
Another special feature of this production of Young Frankenstein is the lobby art exhibit created by local artist Lin Workman. His oversized, black and white airbrushed acrylic paintings of Frankenstein-related monsters are bigger than life and will add an eerie air to the environment. Many of the paintings will be for sale with a portion of those sales going to the Theatre Memphis general fund. An artist's reception will be held Tuesday, October 15, 2013 from 7- 8:30pm in the Theatre Memphis lobby.