Bringing the monster to life: ALT hopes for electric staging of 'Young Frankenstein'
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Inga (Annika Spalding) tries to free Victor (Stephen Crandall).
Photo by Chip Chandler

By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer

Other than singing, dancing and the addition of real, living color, don't expect any drastic differences between the 1974 Mel Brooks film and Amarillo Little Theatre's staging of Young Frankenstein.

"No one is going to be disappointed," said director Allen Shankles of the production, which opens Thursday for a three-weekend run in the ALT Mainstage, 2019 Civic Circle. "They're going to see the Young Frankenstein that they know and love. We're not deviating from the characters or the script very much at all."

Production dates are 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 8 and Dec. 15; 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday, Dec. 9, 10, 16 and 17; and 2:30 p.m. Dec. 11 and 18. Tickets are $22 for adults, $19 for students and seniors, and $16 for children Thursdays and Sundays, and $25 for adults, $22 for students and seniors, and $18 for children Fridays and Saturdays. Call 806-355-9991.

In the wake of Brooks' phenomenal success in adapting The Producers for Broadway, he turned to Young Frankenstein, which he has called his favorite film, for a follow-up. It debuted on Broadway in 2007 to mixed reviews.

ALT will mount a massive production, with an enormous set, designed by David Walsh, depicting the Frankenstein castle and laboratory and a cast of 25, including Stephen Crandall as Frederick Frankenstein, Zeke Lewis as the monster, Ryan Sustaita as Igor, Annika Spalding as Inga, Kristen Loyd as Elizabeth, Janice Easterday as Frau Blucher and Chris Bohannon as Inspector Kemp.

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The musical has "just an overall shticky, over-the-top frivolity ... that is perfect for the holiday season even through there isn't anything Christmas about it," Spalding said.

"We've got such a strong group of leading actors and performers in the show ... and have a great, hardworking ensemble," Shankles said. "I think the show's going to be spectacular."

But with the enduring popularity of the movie — which recently screened again around the country (including in Amarillo) following the August death of star and co-writer Gene Wilder — how hard is it to escape the monster's long shadow?

"I think that has been an interesting dilemma for the main characters playing such iconic roles from the movie," Shankles said. "I think you have to pay homage and follow the characterizations ... very closely, but at the same time, it's our production, so we've done some different interpretations in some places."

Following in Wilder's footsteps as the increasingly manic Frederick is a particular challenge, Crandall said.

"What I hope I'm doing is finding little snippets, little moments that are kind of reflective of his performance in the film, but still, I'm finding a certain energy and quality in the character that, hopefully, is unique and original," Crandall said. "He's one of a kind. It's hard to imitate that."

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Chip Chandler is a digital content producer for Panhandle PBS. He can be contacted at, at @chipchandler1 on Twitter and at on Facebook.