Hampton students prepare to bring 'Young Frankenstein' to life

| Wednesday, March 26, 2014, 9:03 p.m.

Hampton High School will bring Frankenstein's monster to life next month in a production that combines more special effects and set pieces than any of the school's past musicals.

The curtain will rise on “The New Mel Brooks Musical — Young Frankenstein” at Hampton High School on April 4 and combine the classic Mel Brooks movie comedy with musical numbers in classic Broadway style.

It tells the story of Frederick Frankenstein, the descendent of the infamous scientist, who takes up his grandfather's experiments and brings a corpse to life.

“I'm really excited about this,” said Dan Franklin, director, who is celebrating directing his 50th show. “We've never done a show of this technical magnitude. … There are so many effects in this show.”

The musical requires large-scale set pieces for 11 locations in the first act and 10 in the second act, including a hangman's scaffold, a hidden bookcase and even a hydraulic lift that allows the actors to bring Frankenstein's monster to life on a lab table 25 feet in the air.

The show requires a stage crew of about 30 students, as well as a cast of 43 and an all-student orchestra of 27.

For the first time in the school's history, the directorial staff chose to double cast the three main female roles: Inga, Frankenstein's lab assistant, Frau Blucher, the housekeeper; and Elizabeth, Frankenstein's fiancée.

“Every girl double cast has so much to give,” said Amanda Rulis, a senior who plays Inga in the Saturday cast. “I think it makes the production much better. Every night, you get a different show.”

Students have worked for months to master choreographer Jen Lavella's complex dance numbers; create and move multiple large set pieces under the direction of Nick Bigatel, technical director; and perfect the comedic timing with the score played by the orchestra, directed by Lurrene Parker.

Each student has faced a different challenge, including Frankenstein's monster, played by sophomore Alex Wood.

While Wood already is 6-foot-2, his monster character towers over the other students on stage with the addition of 5-inch-high platform shoes and the costume's shoulder and head pieces. In addition to learning to move and dance in his costume, Wood also is working to convey his character's lines, which include few words, through facial expressions and grunts.

Brian Hamlin, a senior, spent extra time strengthening his vocal abilities and taking classes in tap dancing and acting in anticipation of this year's musical.

Now Hamlin, who plays Dr. Frankenstein, is working with the actresses in double-cast roles to create on-stage chemistry with each of them. While this presents an additional challenge, Hamlin said, it enhances the show.

“I think … it shows a wide range of talent,” Hamlin said. “It's authentic for our cast because we have a ton of talent in our cast.”

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or bhofstetter@tribweb.com.

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