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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Frankenstein Chills and Thrills at Beverly Art Center On Halloween Night


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Yesterday, I saw the Beverly Theatre Guild's Production of Frankenstein.

The perfect Halloween offering, this production is based on Victor Gianella's frightening adaptation of Mary Shelly's original Frankenstein which singlehandedly created the Horror genre and carved a whole in the theory that women could not write significant literature held at the time.

Forget the B-movie or Scoobie Doo Frankensteins you might have seen before, this story is as relevant today in the era of cloning and DNA manipulation as it was then. Dr. Victor Frankenstein is not so much a madman as an obssesive-compulsive scientist blindly moving forward in search of the truth without thought of the consequences of his actions.

As the play moves forward and the consequenses of his actions become ever so much more horrible and personal, Frankenstein's hubris and soul seem stripped away by the monsters within as well as the creature without.

Top L to R: Rick Baiker (Herr Mueller), Marie Whitney (Frau Mueller), John Madison (Victor Frankenstein), Jim Michaels (Henry Clerval).

Bottom L to R: Kendall Klein (Elizabeth Lavenza), Brian Ott (William Frankenstein), Patricia Peterson (Justine Moritz, maidservant).

This is not just a play about the violence of a monster created by a man which then undoes him, but the violence within men, which perpetuates itself and destroyes the ones we love. For the play makes clear that the violence of the creature need not have been. How, why? You will have to see for yourself.

Kudos to the cast, especially Dennis Newport who plays the Creature and Denise Smolarek who plays the blind hermit DeLacey, the only person who has the vision to understand the pain the creature is going through and can accept his inner humanity. Their relationship is a gem at the heart of the play.

Dennis Newport (Creature) sits attentively in front of Denise Smolarek (blind hermit DeLacey) as she teaches him from the Bible.

Newport is outstanding. His interpretation of the role makes us wonder, as it should, who is the more human, the Creature, or the men of that time period? His actions are horrifying, but his motivations not difficult to understand given the circumstances that drove them.

Madison's Victor Frankenstein is every bit the consumed scientist torn between his great work and his love for Elizabeth which is genuine and deep, but still pales compared to what he sees as his nearness to the secret of life itself, while blind to the fact that death stands at the other side of life.

Jim Michaels plays Henry Clerval, Victor's best friend, conscious and sharer of his guilt, the only one who knows what Victor is up too. His presence as extoller, comforter and finally accuser for failing to save another in a dramatic rendition more powerfull perhaps, than had we seen it ourselves, is yet another facet that screws up the tension on Victor.

Kendall Klein as Elizabeth, Victor Frankenstien's niece turned fiancee, brings warmth, romance and life to a role that can be easily walked through. Her chemisty onstage with Victor, as his love, as the one who demands to know what is wrong, and as his ultimate defender is sweet, touching, sexy and noble.

Ott (the boy William), Denham (Alphonse, Victor's Father), Peterson (Justine the Maidservant), Baker (Frau Mueller) and Whitney (Herr Mueller the Magistrate) all add fine performances which add to the suspense and rising tension of the show.

I should mention that this show is not for young children or more sensitive adults. There is some blood, some violence, but a great deal of tension and rising emotional angst such that a very few people, mostly with very small children did leave the theater during extremely tense parts. Please don't bring toddlers! Consider this at least PG.

The show has one final performance on Tuesday, Halloween Night, October 31st, 2006. BTG has extended their 2 for 1 promotion that had applied to the Saturday Matinee to the Halloween Night Peformance. Click the ticket below to order tickets.

Happy Halloween!


Beverly Theatre Guild presents: "Frankenstein" Click Tickets to Buy Now!

$20 - See below for 2 for 1 deal!

Last Performance! Halloween Night! October 31: 7pm
Join us this Halloween weekend as the Beverly Theatre Guild presents the
classic tale of horror and suspense by Victor Gialanella adapted from the
novel by Mary Shelley. Set in 19th century Switzerland a young Dr. Frankenstein attempts to fathom the secrets of life and death and creates the most memorable
monster of all time. PG-13 for strong language and graphic violence. For
special offer on Halloween performance click here.

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