Just in time for Halloween, Cedar Street Theatre brings the Mel Brooks‚Äô musical ‚ÄúYoung Frankenstein‚ÄĚ to the stage.
The production begins a two-weekend run at 8 p.m., Oct. 26, at the Nellie and Lou Bozigian Family Theatre at the Lancaster Performing Arts Center.
The musical is based on Brooks‚Äô classic 1974 film of the same name. In fact, Brooks wrote the music and lyrics for the show and he co-wrote the book with Thomas Meehan.
Fans of the film won‚Äôt be disappointed, director Therese Melnykov said.
‚ÄúAudiences will find that it is very, very similar to the movie,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúThere are large chunks of the script that are directly out of the film.‚ÄĚ
The cast features actor Aaron Foley as Frederick Frankenstein, who inherits his family‚Äôs estate in Transylvania. With the assistance of Igor (Connor Kane) his hunchback sidekick and Inga (Katelyn Herbert), Frederick finds himself in the mad scientist shoes of his ancestors.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs very easily translatable ‚ÄĒ if you‚Äôre a fan of the film, you will be a fan of the show,‚ÄĚ Melnykov said.
‚ÄúYoung Frankenstein‚ÄĚ will be her first musical to direct and her second show, overall, in the Antelope Valley. She also directed Cedar Street Theatre‚Äôs award-winning production of ‚ÄúArsenic and Old Lace,‚ÄĚ earlier this year.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs been daunting and challenging, there‚Äôs just so many more moving parts,‚ÄĚ Melnykov said.
She is a theater veteran who moved to the Antelope Valley two years ago, from St. Louis, Missouri, with her husband.
The cast spent the first six weeks of rehearsal focusing on the music and choreography.
Community theater veteran David Alan Smith plays Inspector Kemp and Ziggy, a hermit. These days, Smith is more likely to direct a show or do scene work than he is to act.
‚ÄúIt kind of takes a special project to get me to come back out and be on stage and this was it,‚ÄĚ he said, adding Melnykov as director was also a draw.
Inspector Kemp is also a fun role. He has a wooden leg and arm. He is missing an eye and wears a monocle over his eye patch. He also speaks with a funny accent.
‚ÄúI think audiences will laugh themselves silly and somewhere in the middle of all the laughter, I think they will realize how incredible this ensemble is,‚ÄĚ Smith said. ‚ÄúThey are some of the best singers, dancers, actors I‚Äôve ever worked with and they just rule the show.‚ÄĚ
Herbert said her character, Inga, is a challenging role because it required her to yodel.
‚ÄúIt is a very unique talent that I had to learn,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúSo I specifically learned yodeling for this show. I‚Äôve never tapped before so I had to learn how to tap. There was a lot of things that I had to learn for this role that I‚Äôve never had to do before and this is only my second lead.‚ÄĚ
Herbert did her research. She grew up listening to folk music artists such as Jewel, who is famous for yodeling.
‚ÄúI would sing that for karaoke and come to find out, oh, that‚Äôs how you yodel,‚ÄĚ Herbert said.
She also learned the difference between a country yodel and a folk yodel.
As far as the show, Herbert said ‚ÄúYoung Frankenstein‚Äôs‚ÄĚ cast is the best she‚Äôs ever worked with.
‚ÄúI think I‚Äôve been doing shows for three of four years now and this is the best ensemble and best staff I‚Äôve worked with,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúEverybody is very professional. They‚Äôre all skilled dancers and singers. A lot of people are one or the other, this cast is both.‚ÄĚ
Kane is a fan of the original movie and Mel Brooks‚Äô films, in general. He also wanted to try a musical, which he has never done before.
‚ÄúI¬† auditioned for Frederick because you always audition for the biggest role that you can,‚ÄĚ he said.
He got Igor.
‚ÄúI actually think it‚Äôs good that I got Igor because that role more suits me and what I can do. He‚Äôs kind of weird, kind of all over the place and goofy. He breaks the fourth role a lot and it‚Äôs just a really fun role,‚ÄĚ Kane said.
‚ÄúYoung Frankenstein is not only Kane‚Äôs first musical, it‚Äôs also his first comedy.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs been different and it‚Äôs been challenging,‚ÄĚ he said, adding it has been a growing experience for him.
Foley first saw ‚ÄúYoung Frankenstein‚ÄĚ the movie when he was a child.
‚ÄúMy parents probably shouldn‚Äôt have been watching that, but I did and actually started out hating¬† it with a passion,‚ÄĚ he said.
The movie scared him and gave him nightmares for years.
‚ÄúI never understood the jokes because I was so little,‚ÄĚ Foley said.
He saw the musical when it was at the Pantages Theater. When he learned Melnykov was going to direct it for Cedar Street Theatre, he wanted to be¬† part of it.
‚ÄúIgor is my favorite character, so I‚Äôm jealous as heck that Connor gets to be him because that‚Äôs what I really loved ‚Ä¶ It kind of just worked out this way,‚ÄĚ Foley said.
The cast, he added, works well together.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve been in many ensemble casts but this one, just for some reason, we‚Äôre able to really pick up quickly and really harmonize well and the voices sync well together. Everyone‚Äôs willing and follows directions really well,‚ÄĚ Foley said.
‚ÄúYoung Frankenstein‚ÄĚ plays at 8 p.m., Oct. 26 and 27 and Nov. 2 and 3; and 2 p.m., Oct. 27-28 and Nov. 3-4. Tickets cost $22 for adults, $20 for seniors 62 and older and youth 18 and younger; and $19.80 for military.