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D&E to present ‘Frankenstein’

Submitted photo Cast and crew members preparing for the Davis & Elkins College production of “Frankenstein” are, from left, sitting, Ani Reger, Michaella Young, Beth Butcher and Matthew Nethken; standing, Sierra Petry, Abagael Cain, Tobias Sears, Isaac Cleavenger, Max Ginberg, Seth Croston, Trevor Gauckler, Kyatt Bailey, Emma Watson and Hope Roy.

ELKINS — The Davis & Elkins College Division of Creative Arts Stage and Screen program will soon kick off its 2019-2020 season with an adaptation of Mary Shelley’s seminal horror novel “Frankenstein.”

Written by Barbara Fields, “Playing With Fire: After Frankenstein” will be presented at 8 p.m. Oct. 17 and 18, at 10:30 p.m. Oct. 19 and at 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 20.

All performances will take place in Myles Center for the Arts Harper-McNeeley Auditorium. Tickets may be purchased online or by calling 304-637-1255.

Picking up where Shelley’s story ends, this version of Frankenstein finds the mad doctor in vengeful pursuit of his monstrous creation across an arctic wasteland where the sun never sets.

Near death, Victor Frankenstein and his Creature come to an uneasy truce among a school of “arctic mermaids.” Through flashbacks, they recall events that led to the creature’s creation and Victor’s fall from grace. This exchange between parent and child, scientist and experiment, rejection and love, and good and evil culminates in the Creature’s agonizing question: “Why did you make me?”

Frankenstein Director and Instructor of Theatre and Film Lonnie Martin has long wanted to direct a version of this classic tale.

“I wanted to do something for the Halloween season, and Frankenstein is a classic of the genre,” Martin said. “This particular script has all the nuance of Shelly’s novel, but allows room for some of the Hollywood style ‘Frankenstein’ iconography that audiences will recognize.”

Freshman Seth Croston of Philippi landed the first major role of his college career, playing the wearied version of Dr. Frankenstein hunting his creation.

In this version, Frankenstein is the doctor, not the monster.

“I’m very excited, but also very nervous,” Croston said. “However, I’m working with some great people and all together I think it’s going to be a great show.”

Junior Max Ginsberg of Fairfax, Virginia, will step into some large shoes in a role made famous by Boris Karloff and Robert DeNiro by playing The Creature, Frankenstein’s creation who after seeking love and finding none, goes on a murderous rampage.

“The original Frankenstein is a classic that is over 200 years old,” Ginsberg said. “It’s an honor to be playing such a timeless and famous character.”

Rounding out the cast is sophomore Trevor Gauckler of Charles Town as the young Victor; sophomore Isaac Cleavenger of Philippi as Adam, the young version of the Creature; sophomore Tobias Sears of Crab Orchard as Victor’s mentor Professor Krempe; and junior Kyatt Bailey of Elkins as Elizabeth, Victor’s adopted cousin turned lover. Elkins resident Matthew Nethkin and freshman Carlos Vizcaya of Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, are cast as understudies for the men’s roles.

Also featured in the play are sophomores Emma Watson of Beverly and Sierra Petry of Charleston with Junior Hope Roy of Parsons as a group of monstrous mermaid creatures with whom Frankenstein and the Creature find themselves camped.

Freshman Abagael Cain of Elkins is understudying. These “Arctic Sirens” add a dance element to the project choreographed by Cindy Marie Martin.

“It’s definitely one of the more challenging things I’ve done,” Roy said of the intense choreography rehearsals. “It forces you to be outside of yourself in more ways than one, but it isn’t without benefits. I’ve grown closer with my dance partners and in a way with myself too, so it’s pretty good being a creepy fish lady.”

This year’s theatre season will also feature the musical “The Apple Tree” with music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, presented February 6-9, and “Proof” by David Auburn, April 10-12. Both will be directed by Assistant Professor of Theatre and Theatre Department Chair Bridget Esterhuizen.

“Are we responsible for what we create? This year’s season explores themes around gender, parenting and temptation through three genres of material – classical(ish) drama, musical comedy and contemporary drama,” Esterhuizen said.

“This adaptation of Frankenstein, written by a woman, launches our exploration of those themes with razor-sharp insight. We are very excited to dig into such rich material,” she said.