During the past four years, Chicago Street Theatre has made a tradition treating their audiences to a Halloween show throughout the month of October. This year the award-winning regional theatre group has taken on a project so monstrous that they needed to enlist the help of The Ensemble Theatre to bring the new musical adaptation of Mel Brooks 1974 comic masterpiece, Young Frankenstein, to life. Performances run October 9 through November 1 at Chicago Street Theatre. Tickets for this hilarious co-production are available through the CST's Box Office and online at ChicagoStreet.org. Box Office Hours are Noon to 4PM weekdays and two hours prior to show times.
Based on the screenplay by Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks, Young Frankenstein tells the story of a brilliant young doctor who is desperately trying to escape the mad scientist legacy of his family name until circumstances draw him back to the family castle where the infamy began. This faithful adaptation is packed with hilarity and memorable lines that audiences will know and love. For the musical version, Brooks partnered with his longtime writing partner Thomas Meehan, who is known for the pair's Tony Award-winning run on The Producers and as one of the creators of Broadway's Annie. While Chicago Street is no stranger to musicals, this project was an opportunity for the 61 year old theatre group to collaborate with the newer troupe formed by Zachary Gipson.
The Ensemble Theatre Company is entering its third year of co-producing works with established theatre groups in Northwest Indiana. After successful runs of Musical of Musicals The Musical and The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood at 4th Street Theater in Chesterton, Gipson approached Chicago Street Theatre about co-producing The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein in Valparaiso during CST's popular Halloween slot. "Zach was extremely passionate about doing this project," says former CST Artistic Chair, Traci Brant who added, " He is a true artist in this region and a proven 'triple-threat' as a director, performer and production designer. We had every confidence that he is going to deliver an extraordinary show that our audiences will love."
For this production, The Ensemble Theatre Company's Zachary Gipson has assembled an amazing cast of local and Chicagoland actors to deliver impressive singing and dancing which are key in this musical adaptation. "If you remember from the movie,'" says Gipson, "the creature is unveiled to the public with a rendition of Irving Berlin's 'Puttin' on the Ritz.' This classic song is one of the biggest production numbers in the show." The show, in addition to dazzling musical show pieces, will have a number of spectacular special effects created by CST's resident mad scientist, Marty Weisenbacher who is acclaimed for his work on past season's productions of Dracula and Frankenstein.
Young Frankenstein's cast features: Scott Hayes (Monee) as The Monster; Justin Williams (South Bend) and Zachary Gipson (Chesterton) as Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (alternating); Sheree Wheeler-Gudemanas (Kouts) as Elizabeth Benning; Craig Golbesky(Valparaiso) as Igor; Rachel Livingston(Chicago) as Inga; Dan Matern (Chesterton) as Ziggy; Bob Penny (Valparaiso) as the Blind Hermit; Mary Kay Steele(LaPorte) as Frau Blücher; Matthew Byerly (Valparaiso) as Inspector Hans Kemp; and an Ensemble made up of: Trish Sobocik (Hobart); Kathryn Jankowski (Valparaiso); Brandon Hagerman (LaPorte); Amy Stepanek (Valparaiso ); Erin Shields(Chesterton); Kimerly Buslon (Crown Point); Kristen Hasselgren(LaPorte); Brandon Berk (Schererville) Andrea Bertsch(Valparaiso); and Mark McColley (Valparaiso).
In addition to Gipson wearing many hats as Young Frankenstein's Director, Choreographer, Production Designer, and a performer, the show's production crew features work by: Vocal & Musical Director, Jeff Otto; Assistant Director, Emily Chidalek; Stage Manager, Adrienne Lineback; Assistant Stage Manager, Tom Shields; Assistant Choreographer, Trish Sobacik; Guest Choreographer, Steve Love; Lighting Designer, Bob Cooley; Technical Director, Martin Weisenbacher; Assistant Scenic Designer, Jonathan Mesich; Sound Designer, Mary A. Bird; and Costume Designers: Ashlyn Backe, Martha Sass, Brannon Giest, and Alexia Kudrak.
Throughout the run of the performances, Chicago Street Theatre has arranged opportunities for audiences to interact with Young Frankenstein's cast and crew. On Friday, October 9, Martinis in Valparaiso will host an Opening Night Party following the show at 1004 Calumet Ave. The theatre's popular Thursday Talkback edition will be held on October 15 following the show giving audience the chance to learn about what went into making the production with the cast and the production crew. Valparaiso's Main + Lincoln will host CST's Happy After Hour Party following the show on Friday, October 16 at 210 E. Lincolnway following the performance.
On Saturday, October 17, CST will hold their 4th Annual Nightmare on Chicago Street Halloween Party with Frightening Food, Devilish Desserts, a Creepy Costume Contest and Spooky Spirits & Crazy Cocktail Concoctions courtesy of the Mad Scientists from Martinis. Once again, the annual fundraising event will have a Special Guest Appearance from MeTV's Svengoolie with the event starting at 6:30 PM. General Admission for the party is $40 per person and includes: Food, Meet & Greet with horror movie icon, Rich Koz, and a special performance of Young Frankenstein. Space is limited for this Special Event so reservations are strongly recommended. Last year's Halloween Party with Svengoolie was SOLD-OUT weeks before the event and tickets are going quickly.
Chicago Street Theatre is truly excited for this project and hopes that audiences will take advantage of the fifteen performances offered on Fridays, Saturdays, and Thursdays at 8PM and Sundays at 2:30PM. Viewer's Choice packages are still available for the entire 61st season at CST and include their upcoming productions of: Junie B. Jones The Musical; Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!); The Lieutenant of Inishmore; Nancy Drew: Girl Detective; Orson's Shadow; Wash, Dry, Fold; and Shakespeare's The Tempest.