Young actors will be performing ‘Frankenstein’ during holiday season

A “Frankenstein” show during the holiday season would not be the first option for many; yet, this is what the Calgary Young People’s Theatre team has been rehearsing since mid-September.

From Dec. 7 – 11, a family-oriented version of “Frankenstein,” recommended for ages eight and up, will be brought to the stage by a team of 11 young actors, along with three young musicians.

“I guess our show is a little unorthodox for this season, or unconventional, I suppose,” laughs Kristin Eveleigh, who is directing the play.

However, Eveleigh and Anton de Groot, who wrote the adaptation, weren’t thinking about the holiday season when they chose this play. The play was chosen based on its storyline and the message of the story, Eveleigh says.

She says she believes that this could make it stand out among other shows during the holidays.

Even though the show has been adapted for families, they aimed to make this a little more mature than other shows they have done.

“We really tried to stay true to the story and the message, but bringing it into more of a family story,” she says.

Kyle Visvanathan and Trevor Heal in a scene together as Victor and the monster, respectively, during a casual rehearsal. Photo: Sofia LugoTo produce this play, Eveleigh and de Groot had to find a middle ground where both the storyline and the intended audience were addressed. Eveleigh says she thinks they still get the message across, but they did have to take out some of the heavier elements from the book, like the murders.

De Groot says that while he stuck to the original story as much as possible, a main concern when adapting the play was being able to introduce young audiences to “a side of Frankenstein that they may not have seen” before. This also included changing some moments to be more audience friendly, “while still keeping the impact as strong.”

Kyle Visvanathan, the 15-year-old taking on the role of Victor Frankenstein, who has read some chapters from the book, agrees that the general concept is the same. But learning about the story through the show has been an “extremely interesting” experience, he says.

“I never knew how in-depth it was,” says Visvanathan. “I knew the basics, like there’s the monster with the screws in his neck. That’s about as much as I knew.”

But Visvanathan is not the only cast member who didn’t know much about the story when coming into this play. Trevor Heal, 16, agrees that before the play he also only knew the basics behind the story.

“A guy named Frankenstein makes a monster, and everyone calls [the monster] ‘Frankenstein,’” Heal, who plays the monster, explains as the basics of the story. “But after being the monster I’ve realized that the monster’s name is not Frankenstein; it’s the creator’s name.”

In this adapted version, the character Victor still has to go through the consequences of his acts and he doesn’t get the life he imagined because he learns to take responsibility for his creation and what the monster has done.

Eveleigh says that while the Frankenstein story is “quite stereotypical now,” they are hoping to present a new perspective, and show “the beauty of the story and the message of taking responsibility for your actions, and acceptance.”

slugo@cjournal.ca