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It’s Alive! “Young Frankenstein” the Musical Offers Audiences a Monstrously Good Time

“Transylvania mania” took over the Lemcke Theater of the Emerson Performing Arts Center March 21-23, as The Gunnery Drama Society brought the Mel Brooks musical “Young Frankenstein” to life.
Based on the story and screenplay by Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks, and on the original motion picture by special arrangement with Twentieth Century Fox, “Young Frankenstein” tells the tale of Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (pronounced “Fronk-en-steen”), who returns to Transylvania following the death of his mad scientist grandfather, Dr. Victor Frankenstein.

Leaving his career and his fiancée, Elizabeth Bennett, in New York, the young Dr. Frankenstein arrives at Transylvania Station, where he is greeted by Igor (pronounced “Eye-gore”) the hunchback, who is eager to follow in his own grandfather’s footsteps and serve as the doctor’s loyal sidekick. “Oh the fantastic things we’ll do you and me, it’ll be just like old times,” Igor says, ignoring the good doctor’s obvious reluctance to dig up fresh corpses in the cemetery for laboratory experiments.

After celebrating the fact that they are “together again,” Igor introduces Dr. Frankenstein to his new lab assistant, Inga, and the trio embarks on a rollicking hayride to the family castle. There, they are welcomed by the mysterious Frau Blucher, who soon reveals that she was much more than a housekeeper to the late Dr. Frankenstein. “He was my boyfriend,” she croons.

When the young Dr. Frankenstein falls asleep in the library, he is visited in a dream by a ghostly apparition of his grandfather, who insists that he revive the family business. Later that evening, he, Inga and Igor are lured to the laboratory by the sound of Frau Blucher’s violin and she shares with them the late Dr. Frankenstein's scientific journal. The young Dr. Frankenstein becomes immersed in the details of his grandfather’s experiments (and Igor, Inga and Frau Blucher must pass the time by playing cards, Twister, and Rock, Paper, Scissors) and he becomes convinced he can bring his own monster to life. “Now let us throw the gauntlet of science into the face of death itself,” Dr. Frankenstein proclaims, sending Igor off in search of a corpse and a brain. Hilarity ensues when Igor drops the brilliant brain the doctor has ordered (chasing after it into the audience) and ultimately substitutes an “Abby Normal” brain for the experiment instead.   

Act I concludes as the villagers, led by Inspector Hans Kemp, come to the castle and, posing as a welcoming party, seek to uncover Dr. Frankenstein’s plans. In Act II, they conduct a search for the monster following his escape from the castle. Meanwhile, a budding romance between Dr. Frankenstein and Inga is interrupted by the surprise arrival of Elizabeth and her entourage (hair, makeup, nails and wardrobe) from New York. Once the monster is recaptured, Dr. Frankenstein conducts a second experiment to transfer some of his own brilliant brain matter to the monster. Once tamed ‒ and able to sing, dance and speak eloquently  for himself – he is no longer perceived as a threat, and, in fact, becomes a romantic interest for Elizabeth, who emerges on stage for the finale dressed at the Bride of Frankenstein.

Congratulations to the cast, led by Sean Douglas '19 as Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, Sam Johnson '19 as Igor, Max Farrar '21 as Frau Blucher, and Katie Nemergut as Inga. The cast also featured: Alex Zhang ’20 as Elizabeth Benning; Paul Khrapunov ’21 as the monster; Travis Powell ’19 as Inspector Hans Kemp; John Crabtree ’19, as the blind hermit; Drew Sutherland ’21 as Dr. Victor Von Frankenstein; and Harry Sutton ’20 as the village idiot.

The ensemble cast included: Aurora Aviles ’20, Kyra Briggs ’22, Sheridan Curry ’22, Isabel Martin ’20, Joyce McFarland ’20, Emma Smith ’22, Maggie Xiang ’21 and Yolanda Wang ’21. The production also featured guest appearances by Barbora Barancikova ’19, Gwendolyn Brown ’20, Andrew Byrne-King ’20, Juliette Gaggini ’20 and Rain Ji ’19.

The play was directed by faculty member Elizabeth Dayton '08, Director of Dramatic Arts, and produced by faculty member Sarah Albright. The music director was Sarah Fay. Lighting design was by Al Chiappetta of Sherman Playhouse and costumes were designed by Terry Hawley P’08. The stage crew included Allie Bruck ’22, Charles DeVos ’20, Acadia Johnson '21, Hailey Lovallo '21, Kate O’Farrell ’22 and Keven O’Farrell ’22. Cody Moore '19 played baritone saxophone in the pit band.

To view more photos of the winter musical, click here.

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mail address: 99 Green Hill Road, Washington, CT 06793
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Founded in 1850 by abolitionist, educator, and outdoorsman Frederick Gunn, The Gunnery is a coeducational college preparatory boarding and day school for students in grades 9 through 12/post-graduate. Dedicated teacher-mentor-coaches challenge students to reach their full potential in a home-like setting where character and citizenship are valued as much as intellect and achievement. Individualized attention and high expectations help young learners develop not only the skills and confidence they will need in college, but also the moral compass and love of learning that will serve them well in life. The school attracts ambitious, academically curious students who will both shine as unique individuals and thrive as contributing members of a deeply connected community. By the time they graduate, Gunnery students have become well rounded, grounded young adults with a sharpened sense of who they are and who they want to become.