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BWW Interviews: YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN Set to Open at the Apollo Civic Theater

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The New Mel Brook's Musical Young Frankenstein will open at the Apollo Civic Theater in Martinsburg this weekend and features over twenty performers in the area premiere musical adaptation of Mel Brook's horror movie spoof.

Directed by Terri Magers, musically directed by Allison Shaffer and choreographed by Shannen Banzhoff, Young Frankenstein is based on the Mel Brook's cult classic 1974 film of the same name.

Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Andrew Baughman), the grandson of the infamous Dr. Frankenstein, creator of the Frankenstein monster, is living and working peacefully in New York City in the 1930's with his "adorable mad cap fiancee" Elizabeth Benning (played by Shona Gardner). Suddenly, he is summoned to Transylvania to settle his deceased grandfather's estate and meets his new hunchbacked lab servant, Igor (Matt Baughman), sexy lab assistant, Inga (Amanda Herold) and housekeeper Frau Blucher, (Lauren Hugg) who all expect him to create a new monster!

"Young Frankenstein is one of my favorite movies. In the musical, the comedy becomes inherently broader for the stage. I try to stay true to Gene Wilder's straight-forward, deadpan channeling of classic horror film acting. It's difficult to keep a straight face when you're in scenes with characters like Igor, Frau Blucher and Inspector Kemp" said Andrew Baughman.

"You are pretty much forced to create a different character. And in all honesty, that takes the pressure off a bit, and in return makes my job a little bit easier. The character is classic Igor, the eager hunchbacked servant to Dr. Frankenstein. Some of the famous lines are in there but Marty Feldman had some really funny improvisations, that just wouldn't work if it didn't come from his mouth" said Matt Baughman.

"My character had to expand a lot. I had to develop a whole new way that she would sing and move" said Shona Gardner, on playing Elizabeth Benning.

The cast worked to make the stage musical different from the famous movie, while still honoring the original comedic spoof devised by Mel Brooks.

"I think one of the challenges of this production as a whole is that, Young Frankenstein is a movie. We want to honor the jokes and the audiences' favorite moments, but since film and stage are such different forms of media, we all have to be aware of how our actions are coming across on the stage" said ensemble member Gabby Tokach.

"Whether you're familiar with the movie or not, Mel Brooks is a comedy genius and he wrote the book and music for the show too. This isn't someone else's interpretation of Mel Brooks, this is Mel Brooks himself. And if you are familiar with the movie, every iconic punch line and quote is included in the script" said ensemble member and choreographer Shannen Banzhoff

Additionally, off stage, Andrew Baughman and Matt Baughman, the actors playing Frankenstein and Igor, are real-life brothers, adding a unique layer of comedic chemistry to the production.

"My brother and I have been in many shows together, so we have this unexplainable chemistry. Also, he's an incredible singer and musical actor, so I'm constantly learning from him when we share the same stage" said Matt Baughman.

"We have been developing our schtick since we were kids performing in the back yard. We have the sort of rapport that if something goes wrong, it usually winds up being even funnier." said Andrew Baughman

The large ensemble cast in the musical plays several different characters throughout the show, ranging from Transylvania townspeople to medical students to ghosts to New York socialites. The musical is also a very grand-scale production, with many different set changes, representing locations ranging from classrooms to laboratories to town squares to haunted forests The show is firmly rooted in the 1930's style of music and comedy.

"This is a really big show with revolving bookcases and tap-dancing monsters, which makes it an ambitious project that most theatres won't dare to tackle" added Andrew Baughman.

"It's just a plain ole' fun musical! It's a great date night, it's not too raunchy for a family outing, and the Apollo is a wonderful theatre. The entire cast and crew are so talented and have worked very hard. The ensemble is amazing...they tap, they sing, they act and then dance some more" said Matt Baughman. "If you loved the movie, you will love the musical even more. It has funny songs and fantastic dancing . We promise you a great night out and a good laugh" said Gardner.

The Young Frankenstein cast also features Ken McDonald as The Monster, Tim O'Donnell as Inspector Kemp, Ross Hudson as Harold the Blind Hermit, Larry Marcille as Victor von Frankenstein, Brent Comer as Ziggy and Brian Terrell, Carlos Lee, Cheyenne Kesecker, CorRay LaFleur, Delaney Herold, Hope Wolford, Imojen Gardner, James Pryle, Rick Harner, Ryan Perry, Sera Drevenak, Shannen Banzhoff, Tiffany Leighton, Yanira Diaz and Andre Brown as various ensemble members.

Young Frankenstein runs Sept. 13, 14 20 and 21 at 8 pm and September 15 and 22 at 2:30 pm. Tickets are $15 for evening performances, $12 for matinee performances and $7 for students with a valid student ID for all performances. For more information, please visit http://www.apollo-theatre.org/.


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