Arts and Entertainment

'Young Frankenstein the Musical' comes to Auburn Avenue Theater

Justin Hanson, as Young Frankenstein’s Monster, rehearses the musical number, “Putting On the Ritz” from the Auburn Community Players production of “Young Frankenstein the Musical” at the Auburn Avenue Theater. - Shawn Skager/Reporter
Justin Hanson, as Young Frankenstein’s Monster, rehearses the musical number, “Putting On the Ritz” from the Auburn Community Players production of “Young Frankenstein the Musical” at the Auburn Avenue Theater.
— image credit: Shawn Skager/Reporter

Those Auburn Community Players are at it again.

The cast presents "Young Frankenstein the Musical", a musical comedy adaptation of the classic Mel Brooks' film, which premiered Oct. 4 at the Auburn Avenue Theater. Performances are this weekend and conclude next weekend.

"I just love the movie," director David Cox said. "More than anything, it's really fun, lots of humor that is right up my alley. Mel Brooks just gets my funny bone. And I thought it was something out of the ordinary for community theater."

The musical, written by Brooks, features Frederick Frankenstein, the grandson of the original Dr. Frankenstein, who discovers he has inherited his grandfather's castle in Transylvania. He travels to investigate the property and the musical hijinks ensue, with the young Frankenstein eventually creating his own version of the monster.

"Basically what they did is take every joke that you love from the movie and turned it into a song," Cox said.

The Auburn Community Players' production of the musical features 25 cast members, eight behind-the-scenes production people and three musicians providing the music.

Cox, a huge fan of the original film, which he has seen at least 20 times, said casting was a bit of a challenge for him.

"Because it's such an iconic movie, there were some casting decisions," Cox said. "I just wasn't sure if I was going to get what I needed to pull off the parts. I think the monster in the beginning was the hardest part. For one reason or another, theater people tend to be of average height. So finding a guy (Justin Hanson), who next to them seemed giant, was a challenge."

Another major part of Cox's casting dilemma was to detach from his preconceived notions of what actors in the roles should look like, based on his love of the movie.

"I think Marty Feldman (as Igor) is the hardest to detach from, and after that Cloris Leachman (as Frau Blücher)," he said. "Luckily, Carrie Sleeper-Bowers, who's been a part of the Auburn Community Players in the past, auditioned, and she's basically Cloris Leachman. We lucked out with that one."

Another challenge for the production, which has been in the works for seven weeks, has been the set, Cox said.

"It's one set, essentially, but everything turns, flips or opens to do our set changes," he said. "There are a few things that come on and off stage, but for this one I really tried hard to make sure that everything you see stays on stage. Because in the past, we've had minute-and a-half-long set changes, which in show time is forever."

Cox said the decision to stage the musical, which is more adult-oriented than the troupe's typical fare, was a conscious one.

"We decided to do something that pushed the envelope in the fall, that would fall in line with Halloween, with the idea that our next show would be more family friendly," Cox said. "We're going to do 'Seussical (the Musical') in the spring. I think after this it will be a nice change of gears."

Cox added that the "Young Frankenstein" production has been a coming out of sorts for the Auburn Community Players.

"More so than any other show, this has really spread our fingers," Cox said. "We've got some of the returning players, but also some from West Seattle, people from Puyallup and from the North Pierce County area. So it feels like we're getting a little more recognition among the theater community of South King County, which I'm feeling really happy about."

Cox added:

"We do really good work, certainly on par with any of the other things I've seen in the area," he said. "And I'm really proud of that. One of our goals is to get seen."

Showtime

• What: Auburn Community Players present Young Frankenstein

• When: Oct. 11, 12, 18, 19 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 13 at 2 p.m.

• Where: Auburn Avenue Theater, 10 Auburn Ave.

• Tickets: $14 regular, $12 students, seniors ($17/$15 at the door). Call 253-931-3043, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. or online through Brown Paper Tickets at www.auburnwa.gov/arts.

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