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Washington-Lee High School Frankenstein 1930

By • Apr 15th, 2011 • Category: Cappies

“It’s alive!” Tonight the lines between science and supernatural were crossed, as the students of Washington-Lee High School created a monster of terrifying proportions in Frankenstein 1930.

Everyone recognizes the face of Frankenstein (or rather, Frankenstein’s monster). The classic horror story has permeated pop-culture for over a century, but less commonly is it traced to its original source, one novel by Mary Shelley. The book carries an alternate title, The Modern Prometheus, as it chronicles the experiences of one scientist’s search for wisdom through experimentations in creating life by piecing together parts of dead humans and enlivening them with electrical currents. When he does bring this breach of human ability upon the world of the faithful, he suffers the consequences of venturing too far into the unknown. Fred Carmichael’s Frankenstein 1930, however, is based more upon the 1931 horror film Frankenstein, directed by James Whale, as it employs more elements from the cinema than literature or the stage.

Washington-Lee’s production was unique in its use of gray body makeup and melodramatic acting to convey the effects of a movie produced in the 1930s. Although the makeup became visibly messy as the show moved along, the level of execution by high school theatre was impressive, as every last cast member was covered in gray and dressed in fairly faithful period black and white clothing.

Max Blackman, portraying the ardent scientist Victor Frankenstein, delivered the shock of a man facing the horrors of his own creation through words of fiery passion. His chemistry with his fiancé Elizabeth (Emma Banchoff) was near-tangible as her clear, crystalline voice suffered with all the longing and despair of losing her beloved to the laboratory.

Other notable supporting roles included the frank Dr. Hellstrom (Jill Luoma-Overstreet) and honest Henry Lovitz (Noah Pilchen). Both developed a sound understanding in their characters that brought the urgency of the story to the forefront. Impressive also was Daniel Guenther as the notorious Creature. Through only a series of groans and moans, Guenther was able to give life to the sorrows of a monster questioning its tortured existence. Although there was some confusion in diction, maturity, and accents, the old time film-style acting was a pleasant surprise to behold from an amateur play.

Costumes, sets, and ensemble all worked to convey the conflicting chaotic and civil atmospheres of the panicked country village. While small parts of the overall picture were understandably out of place, the message of the production could be found in the juxtaposition of the sparse living room and intricate laboratory alone. Nick Kodama’s original score composed of clever licks played at the beginnings and endings of key scenes added the necessary elements of creepy to the show.

In the dark of night, something utterly remorseless emerges from the auditorium of Washington-Lee. If you are lucky, you may have the pleasure of meeting it.

by Sunny Vinsavich of Westfield High School

Photo Gallery

James Randall (Gorgo) and Max Blackman (Victor Frankenstein) Jill Luoma-Overstreet (Dr. Hellstrom), Emma Banchoff (Elizabeth), Noah Pilchen (Henry Lovitz), Max Blackman (Victor Frankenstein), James Randall (Gorgo)
James Randall (Gorgo) and Max Blackman (Victor Frankenstein)
Jill Luoma-Overstreet (Dr. Hellstrom), Emma Banchoff (Elizabeth), Noah Pilchen (Henry Lovitz), Max Blackman (Victor Frankenstein), James Randall (Gorgo)
Jill Luoma-Overstreet (Dr. Hellstrom) and Daniel Guenther (The Creature) Laura Yauger (Maria) and Daniel Guenther (The Creature)
Jill Luoma-Overstreet (Dr. Hellstrom) and Daniel Guenther (The Creature)
Laura Yauger (Maria) and Daniel Guenther (The Creature)

Photos by Noah Pilchen and Sarah Echols

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is a program which was founded in 1999, for the purpose of celebrating high school theater arts and providing a learning opportunity for theater and journalism students. You can learn more at cappies.com.

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