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'Young Frankenstein: The Musical!' rises again at CCP

This Halloween season, Capital City Productions will be premiering a monster of a musical. CCP presents Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein, The Musical!" with eight shows and dinner included.

Ethan Weston/News Tribune Michael Brand as Igor, left, and Ben Miller as Dr. Frederick Frankenstein pause during a song they perform together in the play "Young Frankenstein" on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021 in Jefferson City, Mo. The pair are part of Capital City Productions.

This Halloween season, Capital City Productions will be premiering a monster of a musical.

CCP presents Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein, The Musical!" with eight shows and dinner included Oct. 14-23 at 719 Wicker Lane. The musical will run at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, with dinner served at 6:30 p.m., and Saturdays will feature lunch at noon and a show at 1 p.m.

"Young Frankenstein" director Rob Crouse said this isn't the first time CCP has shown the musical — it was a huge hit a few years ago, so they decided to bring it back for a second run. The play, based on the movie of the same name directed by Mel Brooks, has remained critically acclaimed from the screen to the stage for decades.

The 1974 movie "Young Frankenstein" was considered against the grain for the time, using black and white film to harken back to the old 1930s "Frankenstein" and "The Bride of Frankenstein" films. Paired with Gene Wilder and Brooks' biting humor and satire of the horror genre, it has since been deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" by the United States National Film Preservation Board and is preserved in the Library of Congress National Film Registry.

Later, with the talents of Broadway writer Thomas Meehan, it became a successful musical.

"Part of the challenge for us doing this musical is the movie is such an iconic movie; the characters have to be recognizable to people who saw it," Crouse said. "(Brooks) really enhanced the movie. It's a rare treat because he's definitely used music to make a funnier show."

The show follows Frederick Frankenstein (pronounced "Fronk-en-steen"), a professor of neuroanatomy and grandson of the infamous Victor Frankenstein, whose estate the younger Frankenstein inherits in Transylvania. With the help of a sidekick with a shifting hunchback, Igor (pronounced "Eye-gore"), and lab assistant Inga, Frederick soon finds himself interested in reanimation like his ancestors — which leads to a monstrous escape, and hilarity ensues.

Crouse said the musical's cast had to not only best portray the original characters but also bring in vocals and comedic movements to the role. Ben Miller, who plays lead Frankenstein, in August played the villain in CCP's production of "Oliver!" and is now taking on a much more comedic role as the fanatic physician.

"It's a 180 from what he did before," said Crouse, adding many of Miller's fellow cast members were in "Oliver!" alongside him.

There are other connections between cast members — some which perfectly fit their roles. Married couple Adam and Kendra Shields play the Monster and Elizabeth Benning, respectively, who fall in love in the musical. Crouse said the comedic timing of the on-stage couple is enhanced by their relationship in real life.

"They have commended the thing with having chemistry being married, which makes it even better," Crouse said.

Miller and musical director Mike Brand, who plays Igor, also make an iconic duo in their roles. Starring in multiple productions together, Miller and Shields bring the chemistry of people who have worked together before.

"They're inseparable now," said Danielle Simpson, who plays Inga. "They took this whole process to just get closer and closer. They're hilarious to work with."

Crouse is excited to see audiences react to their song "Together Again," originally sung by Christopher Fitzgerald — as inspiration, Crouse was able to get in touch with Fitzgerald, who sent a video from backstage at the Broadhurst Theatre in New York encouraging the cast in their performance.

Along with choreography talents from LuAnn Madsen, Crouse hopes audiences will enjoy the CCP cast as they're "Puttin' On The Ritz" once again.

The theater no longer requires mask wearing for guests, but hand sanitizer will be available throughout the theater, and temperatures will be taken at the door. Spaces are also sprayed and disinfected between performances. To purchase tickets, which are $38 for dinner and the show, visit ccpjc.org/youngfrankenstein or call 573-681-9612.