YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN: THE MUSICAL

Brianna Brooks, IV Leader Columnist

Brought to the Illinois Valley Community College stage comes a monstrous musical of hilarity and terror! Once the cult-classic from 1974, the film is now resurrected to the stage by the creator himself! Featuring original music and lyrics by Mel Brooks, IVCC presents Young Frankenstein.

The musical follows the story of Doctor Frederick Von Frankenstein (that’s Franken-STEEN), descendent of the notorious Frankenstein family. Reluctantly, Frederick is brought back to his family home after an unfortunate turn of events and is thrust head-first into the family business. With throw-backs to the movie and the classic that started it all, Young Frankenstein provides a show that is both entertaining and bawdy, guaranteed to have old and new fans howling with laughter.

Everybody knew from the beginning that Young Frankenstein would be a challenging show to pull off, but the IVCC Theatre group rose to the challenge and attacked with vigor. With an enormous cast of twenty-six community and student members, the theatre got their chance to show off exemplary skill in handling a series of set and costume changes. The effect was a seamless shift from scene to scene, effortless and professional. In addition to the two week running time of the show, the cast and crew truly devoted themselves to the art and made the musical great.

Director and Choreographer Don Grant Zellmer expressed putting his all into the musical. While holding off Young Frankenstein for the spring, he explains that it gave the theatre more time to do justice to the story and create an experience for their audience, recreating it every night.

Up until closing night, Zellmer and the cast gather to go over notes of the last night’s show and discussed how to make it better. When questioned about the new two week running time of the musical, a new development for the theatre, Zellmer said, “The two week running time gives us a chance to get more people and develop the story, to get better with time.” Zellmer is the kind of director to work with his crew, bonding with the cast in order to ensure the best show possible.

Since Zellmer announced Young Frankenstein, the theatre’s social media has been blowing up in anticipation for April as well as the cast of characters. “Everyone was perfectly casted for this,” Zellmer asserted, and no one would disagree. The actors devoted their all not just to lines or songs, but to learn their character and to interpret them for the stage.

Greg Tullis takes the stage as Frederick Von Frankenstein which has become an iconic theatrical role in the theatre world for middle-aged actors. Tullis expresses that he is drawn to roles that are “thrilling and larger than life.”

He already proved himself apt to handle the eccentric Sylvia St. Croix during the fall show, Ruthless. Now he continues his work by tackling Frederick’s shifting moods and character development from distinguished doctor to mad scientist.

Adam Oldacker makes his reemergence to the stage by bringing life the lovable Igor (That’s EYE-gore). Igor emerges with an agenda of keeping the family business alive and dreams of completing a classic duo. While goofy and childish, Oldacker brings the character of Igor to life as an active participant in the events of the story.

Hillari Behrens returns to show off her skills with the clever and devoted Inga, Doctor Frankenstein’s laboratory assistant. Behrens’ expresses that as her first sexual role, and she has gotten nothing but positive feedback. She even learned to yodel for the role, which she enjoys adding to her list of talents for future roles and shows. Inga’s character plays into the heart and emotion of the story. Self-assured and daring, Behrens brings her all to the role.

Ashley Hurst makes her IVCC debut as Elizabeth Benning, madcap fiancée and socialite of New York. Hurst brings her all to the roll of the pampered and proper, she states her joy in playing “badass bitch” characters . The theatricality of Elizabeth Benning makes her a provocative and interesting character.

Karen Lesman kills in the role of Frau Blucher, the housekeeper and driving force of the plot. Lesman is a returning favorite to the IVCC stage and a professional in playing characters who steal the scene. As Frau Blucher, Lesman is able to deadpan lines while shocking the cast with her bawdy character.

Doug Bartelt brings the Creature to life, Frankenstein’s Monster, with a character that is, although volatile, naïve to the world around him. Despite having few speaking lines, the actions and expressions of the character speak volumes for him. When Bartelt was on stage, he expressed what the Creature thinks and feels without words.

The sets of the show were intimidating to say the least. They consisted of two rotating walls as well as a bookcase, a doorway, and platforms, not to mention the moveable gears and lights worked into them, all of which are attributed to Matt Boehm and the crew who worked to create Transylvania.

Boehm stated that he is particularly proud of how this set turned out and happy with how it accents the story. Each part of the set was attended to by stage managers Katie Alleman and Perla Escatel, who choreographed each scene change with professional and loving detail.

The set all together is breath taking from the simplistic beauty of the clock tower to the haughty atmosphere of the dungeon, helping to submerge the audience into the world of Young Frankenstein.

Always interesting and never a dull moment, IVCC Theatre brought their all to the tribute of Mel Brooks’ cult-classic and did it justice.

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