Musical’s fresh take on a freaky classic

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Freaky, funny and fresh – it’s a combination that hopes to thrill Hunter audiences next month.

Young Frankenstein, a new musical by Mel Brooks based on the classic comedy movie from 1974, will arrive in the region for the first time from Friday 19 to Sunday 28 March at Warners Bay Theatre.

In the original film, an American inherits the castle of his grandfather – infamous scientist Dr Victor von Frankenstein.

Inside, Dr Frederick Frankenstein finds a funny hunchback called Igor, a beautiful lab assistant named Inga and an old housekeeper, Frau Blucher.

After discovering his grandfather’s work, Young Frankenstein resumes his experiments of reanimating the dead.

The musical, a revised version that opened in London’s West End in October 2017, will be Opera Hunter’s first production for 2021.

Director Zac Smith said it had been on his radar for some time.

“This is the type of stuff I grew up on – comedy, English movies, and my dad was a big fan of the [original] film,” he said.

“I listened to the musical while building the set for [a previous production] She Loves Me in the middle of the night and I was like: ‘Oh, it’s got really good tunes.’

“We’re trying to do shows that Newcastle doesn’t know or isn’t familiar with – I think it’s a good opportunity to do something new – that people haven’t seen.

“It’s also [a chance] to get a few newer faces to the Newcastle scene and some of its character actors, who you might’ve seen in a lot of shows but they only played a small part.”

The Young Frankenstein cast is led by seasoned Newcastle performer Drew Holmes, who takes on the role of Dr Frederick Frankenstein.

He has worked as an actor, writer, set designer, director and teacher and been involved in many productions, including Grease the Musical, The Book of Everything, Mary Poppins, The Addams Family, and Beauty and the Beast.

The talented Alana Wilson will play Inga. She has previously been compere at Star Struck 2015, while she also regularly performed the national anthem at the Newcastle Knights’ home games and Cooks Hill Surf Life Saving Club’s annual ANZAC dawn service ceremonies, and took on roles in music theatre productions.

Some of these included High School Musical, FAME, The Boy from Oz, and Chicago.

Apart from Drew and Alana, the cast also boasts Dom Lacey (Igor); Stephanie Hilkmann, nee Priest (Elizabeth Benning); Trish Aumuller (Frau Blucher), Danny Folpp (The Monster), Mike Peters (The Hermit/Ziggy), and Carl Gregory (Inspector Kemp/Victor).

Director Smith said he was busily preparing for Young Frankenstein, which promised to be a “fun, quirky show”.

“The set is my design – there will be upright pallets, maybe backed with hessian, and everything else will be hay bales,” he said.

“In the process of directing, [the set] is normally the last thing I do because it takes so long to try and figure out what I want.

“But, from when I pitched it, I had the idea in mind. It was something cheap and something that we could get resources from – we’re trying to use a one-stock set and then have elements that can move.”

Visit Opera Hunter’s website for more information or to buy tickets.

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