'Young Frankenstein' comes alive at Eastlight Theatre

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Many musicals have songs or dialogue that people in the audience know well enough they will notice if there is something different, something changed in the way a certain show presents it. Actors know it and try and make sure they get it right.

But when that musical is based on a popular movie, such as “Young Frankenstein,” a film from which fans can cite long passages of dialogue, that presents a whole new challenge, said Chip Joyce, director of the next offering at Eastlight Theatre in East Peoria.

“It’s a little nerve racking, yeah. There are people out there who know the movie backward and forward and we have to keep them happy. Ever since I found out I was directing this show and I would tell people, the reaction was always somebody quoting lines from the movie to me. But with this cast, I think everybody who comes and sees our show will be happy with it,” Joyce said.

“I think they will love it.”

“Young Frankenstein” opens a seven-show run Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the theatre at East Peoria High School and is the show’s regional community theatre premiere. But as Joyce said, it isn’t a show that true fans of the film will feel like they are seeing for the first time.

“It is incredibly faithful to the movie, which is a good thing I suppose. The popularity of the movie will sell tickets and it was probably why I had such a great turnout at auditions and why I was able to get such an awesome cast,” said Joyce, who earlier this summer directed “Guys and Dolls” under the tent at Corn Stock Theatre and soon will direct “Cabaret” at Peoria Players Theatre.

The cast includes mostly veterans of community theatre, including Adam Sitton as Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, Alex Mansoori as Igor and Megan Simpson as Inga.

Katie McCluckie, who wowed audiences in her portrayal of Fanny Brice in Corn Stock’s “Funny Girl” this summer, will portray Elizabeth (which Joyce said was a perfect role for her), and Barb Couri, a veteran of many local musicals, will play Frau Blucher.

George Maxedon, who was a hit playing the title monster in “Shrek” last spring at Peoria Players, dons a different costume and makeup to play The Monster in “Young Frankenstein.” His performance in the song “Puttin’ On the Ritz” is rumored to be worth the price of admission.

“George has cornered the market on playing big green monsters” Joyce said.

Other cast include Kevin Wickart as Inspector Kemp and the Hermit, Dave Montague as Dr. Victor Von Frankenstein and Thom Parker as Ziggy.

The 10-piece orchestra for the show is lead by music director Dedra Kaiser and the choreography is by Danny Fischer.

Songs in the show, besides “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” include “The Brain,” “Together Again (For the First Time),” “Roll In the Hay,” “He Vas My Boyfriend,” “Listen To Your Heart,” “Please Send Me Someone” and “Deep Love.”

“There are, of course, some differences between the musical and the movie, but they are few. So anybody thinking they are coming to see only a live version of the movie will notice them,” Joyce said. “We’re pretty sure they will still enjoy it.”

“Young Frankenstein” will show at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 12, 13, 17, 18, 19 and 20 and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 14.

Tickets are $19 for adults and can be ordered by calling 699-7469 or visiting www.tickets.eastlighttheatre.com.


About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).