BWW Interviews: Fringe Spotlight: GIRAFFENSTEIN

From the award-winning team who brought you last year's hit The Pokémusical, comes a new musical GIRAFFENSTEIN based on the tale of Shelley's Frankenstein, as you've never seen it before. Song, dance, and danger. And they're all giraffes.

With book & music by Alex Syiek, direction & musical staging by Joanna Syiek, and musical direction by Jennifer Lin, the story follows Dr. Richard Giraffenstein on his journey across the African savannah where he creates a Monster, who, confused and angry, attempts to find a true home for himself.

I asked Alex about the inspiration for the musical and he said, "I chose this topic because I've always loved giraffes and thought they were funny. I think the piece is: fantastic, because it's extremely hilarious; timely, because we need to stop the reanimation of giraffe corpses in Africa; and fringey, because it's fast, fun, and full of people jamming their hearts out. If you've ever wondered where a giraffe monster would be able to find a home, then I guess I wrote a show for you...weirdo."

Joanna agreed adding, "I have always found the Frankenstein story to be a fascinating one, particularly with its themes of taking responsibility for what one creates. That's something all artists must contend with every time they begin a new project. The monster in this version is a creature who is 1/2 giraffe, 1/4 rhino, and 1/4 lion. And while the premise is lighthearted at the start, the character serves as an example of the possibility inherent in creation, illustrating that without proper guidance a 'work of genius' can take control of its creator. It reminds us of the responsibility we have to that which we create - be it children, art, relationships - and offers stark warnings of the result of neglect."

Did they have any challenges adapting the material? "The source text adapts frighteningly well to its new savannah setting," according to Joanna. "The doctor's (Giraffenstein's) experiments with life take on a new context in our age of technological and biomedical advancements. With today's instances of cloning and stem cell research, this tale subtly highlights the discussions surrounding how we can manifest life through scientific achievement, and asks us again to be accountable for our choices. The difference between re-imagining and meddling with life is in the hands of those creating. To be flippant with these achievements may spell out a precarious future."

Sounds like a hilarious and thought-provoking addition to the Fringe.

The cast for GIRAFFENSTEIN will include James Penca as the Doctor and Edred Utomi as the Monster, with Josh Hillinger (Ivan), Katie McDonough (Elizabeth), Seth Salsbury (Moopaseh), Caleb Mills Stewart (Walton), Katie De Shan (Adhra), Kelley Dorney (Bimbaya), Ian Klingenberg (Chiumbo), and Kelsey Schulte (Nthabi). The Female Swing is Rachel Hirshee and Male Cover is Tyler Ledon.

June 8 - 29, 2014
Lillian Theatre, 1076 Lillian Way
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Tickets are $10 at

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From This Author - Ellen Dostal

Ellen Dostal is currently the Senior Editor for BroadwayWorld/Los Angeles and a member of the prestigious Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle. She has covered the performing arts community, jazz, and cla... (read more about this author)


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