Halloween season is upon us and the audience was in full force at last night’s preview of “Frankenstein 1930” at the Long Beach Playhouse’s Mainstage Theater, running Sept. 23rd to Oct. 21st.
Young and old alike crowded the seats to house capacity in giddy anticipation of the theatrical adaptation of the 1931 Universal classic with a large, ensemble cast.
The production was led by director David Scaglione, who also created the excellent scenic design. Stage blocking and making use of the entire thrust stage and aisles made for an immersive audience experience, although his “Directors Notes” in the program was inexplicably riddled with errors and misinformation.
Playwright Fred Carmichael admirably adapted the plot of the 1931 film while paraphrasing much of the dialogue into his own. Clearly a fan of the Whale film, bits of the dialogue were a nod to other films of Dr. Frankenstein’s Colin Clive, “History is Made at Night” being notable among them. A fine effort that absolutely worked well for the stage.
As mentioned, Scaglione’s set design and lighting design by Miranda Richard were very well done; hopefully a few of the lighting cues will be tightened up over subsequent performances. Kudos to Christina Bayer for her on point costume design.
A most unusual phenomena occurred; the audience seemed to hijack the performance. While being played straight as an homage by its able leading cast, the supporting players stole the show with their comedic moments as the crowd responded accordingly. So much so, that perhaps the audience felt that the play was supposed to be akin to the comedy “Young Frankenstein” as they laughed throughout the entire performance, even at parts that weren’t supposed to be funny, namely the creation of Frankenstein’s Monster and his later confrontation with Little Maria, which were quite good. Though no fault of the actors, a few of the performers “read the room” and adjusted their performances to play off of the laughter as the play progressed.
Bring your pumpkin spice latte and your Halloween cheer; this one’s a hoot and an enjoyable romp for fans of theater, and, of course, monster movies. Recommended!
By Fred Carmichael
Playing in the Long Beach Playhouse’s Mainstage Theater
Sept. 23 – Oct. 21, 2023
Directed by David Scaglione
David Vaillancourt (VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN)
Charlie Spencer (THE CREATURE)
Sean Wellengard (GORGO)
Adriana Catanzarite (ELIZABETH)
Geraldine D. Fuentes (AUNT FREDERICA)
McKayla Spence (BERTA)
Daniel Hastey (HENRY LOVITZ)
J.D. Rinde (DR. HELLSTROM)
Athena Wellengard (MARIA)
Renée Schwarz (MOTHER/JALNA)
Amber Solis (DAUGHTER/SECOND PERSON)
Mitchell Nunn (HORST/GRAVE DIGGER)
Nancy Fleming (KORDA/GRAVE DIGGER)