From Peter Pan to Frankenstein
By: Anna Borowiecki
| Posted: Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 06:00 am
The Mel Brooks New Young Frankenstein
MacEwan Theatre Arts and Theatre Production
Feb. 5 to 15
John L. Haar Theatre
Centre for the Arts and Communications
10045 – 156 St.
Tickets: $21.75/regular; $16.75/students/seniors. Call 70-420-1757 or online tixonthesquare.ca Tickets at door are $25/$20.
It’s been a scant three years since Luc Tellier was cast as the rapscallion Peter Pan in St. Albert Children’s Theatre winter production of the same name.
Now a graduating student at MacEwan University’s musical theatre program, Tellier has left behind the fairy dust and nabbed the starring role in The New Mel Brooks Young Frankenstein opening Wednesday, Feb. 5 at John L. Haar Theatre.
“The Mel Brooks film was so iconic. It was a cult classic. It’s a lot like Spamalot. It really captures the essence of the film and sets up the jokes the way the audience expects the jokes,” says Tellier in a brief telephone interview between classes.
The Young Frankenstein musical is an affectionate parody of the classical horror film genre. It is based on Brooks film masterpiece that re-imagines a modern day take on the Frankenstein legend. (Gene Wilder was co-screenwriter).
The story follows young Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, a man determined to live down his ancestor’s history. He even insists on pronouncing his name “Fronckensteen.”
But after years of distancing himself from his family’s reputation, Frederick inherits his grandfather’s castle. Intrigued by the castle and his grandfather’s gruesome experiments, he attempts to bring a corpse to life minus the horrible complications.
Adding a wicked slice of parody to the mix is the bug-eyed, lovable hunchback Igor (pronounced eye-gore) and Frau Blucher, the stern housekeeper.
Sliding into the lab experiments is Inga, the curvaceous, yodeling lab assistant, and of course the inarticulate monster, that dances a soft-shoe number and ravishes Elizabeth, Frankenstein’s uptight fiancée.
“It’s really a story about a man running from his past and he doesn’t want to identify with it. But the past has also fascinated him because he’s so passionate about the brain and what he does. He believes in fact, not fiction, and comes to realize his grandfather had the same burning passion,” Tellier explains.
“It (brain transference) is fascinating to him. He doesn’t think it will work, but when he stumbles across his grandfather’s book, he realizes it could work.”
As a spoof of the horror genre, Tellier adds the musical is less of a deep soul searching artistic piece, than “how many times can we get the audience to laugh.”
The production is musical theatre boot camp with Brooks taking one big swipe at mega-hit Broadway numbers.
For instance, The Brain performed by Frederick and his students is a huge Las Vegas style performance routine while Puttin’ on the Ritz is a nine-minute tapper. And Join the Family Business has a wild gypsy vibe similar to Fiddler on the Roof.
“It’s hit after hit. If musical theatre is a bowl of Lucky Charms, you could say Frankenstein has all the marshmallows in one sitting,” says Tellier.
As lead actor, he is on stage more than 80 per cent of the time. In this high-energy production, developing enough stamina to run through each chart is the cast’s biggest challenge.
“It’s relentless. It just means rehearsing over and over again. The hard part is keeping the moments alive. I’m a sweaty mess by the end of Act 1. All the energy gets put in the show. When we’re done, it’s time for a nap.”
But he hopes everyone will take time to drop by for a non-stop round of belly laughs.
“It’s a showcase of different characters. It has great moments, great songs, wicked laughter, and the jokes are endless.”