James Willstrop to serve up Frederick Frankenstein in Pick Me Up Theatre’s Hallowe’en show Young Frankenstein

Squashbuckling: World champ James Willstrop swaps from court to stage to perform for Pick Me Up Theatre

PICK Me Up Theatre artistic director Robert Readman will direct the northern premiere of Mel Brooks’s stage conversion of Young Frankenstein at the Grand Opera House, York, over Hallowe’en.

The York company’s rehearsals are progressing well for the all-singing, all-dancing horror-movie spoof musical that will run from October 31 to November 4.

“From the creators of the record-breaking Broadway sensation The Producers comes this monster new musical comedy,” says Robert. “The comedy genius, Mel Brooks, has adapted his legendarily funny 1974 film into a brilliant stage creation of Young Frankenstein. I saw the West End production and loved it.”

Grandson of the infamous Victor Frankenstein, Dr Frederick Frankenstein (pronounced “Fronk-en-steen”) inherits his family’s castle estate in Transylvania.

Sanna Jeppsson: Playing lab assistant Inga in Young Frankenstein

Aided yet hindered by hunchbacked sidekick Igor (pronounced “Eye-gore”), leggy lab assistant Inga (pronounced normally), devilishly sexy Frau Blucher (Neigh!) and needy fianceeElizabeth, Frederick finds himself filling the mad scientist shoes of his ancestors, striving to fulfil his grandfather’s legacy by bringing a corpse back to life.

“It’s alive!” he exclaims as his experiment yields a creature to rival his grandfather’s monster. Eventually, and inevitably, this new monster escapes. “Hilarity abounds,” promises Robert, in Young Frankenstein’s combination of madcap success and monstrous consequences.

Working in tandem with Thomas Meehan, Brooks gleefully reanimates his horror-movie send-up of Mary Shelley’s novel with even more jokes, set-pieces and barnstorming parody songs that stick a pitchfork into good taste. Among those songs will be Puttin’ On The Ritz, Please Don’t Touch Me, He Vas My Boyfriend, The Transylvanian Mania, There Is Nothing Like A Brain! and many more Transylvanian smash hits.

Leading Readman’s cast will be erstwhile world squash champion James Willstrop, continuing his transfer from court to stage after playing Captain Von Trapp in Pick Me Up’s The Sound Of Music last Christmas.

Helen Spencer: From Hello, Dolly! to hello, Frau Blucher

Starring opposite him again will be Swedish-born Sanna Jeppsson (Maria in The Sound Of Music), here cast as Inga. Jack Hooper, Mr Poppy in last year’s Nativity!, will be Igor; Helen Spencer, seen latterly as the Mother Abbess and Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly!, will play Frau Blucher; Jennie Wogan-Wells, the Narrator in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, will be Elizabeth Benning.

Craig Kirby, Mr Tom in Goodnight Mr Tom, will be in Monster mode and further roles will go to Tom Riddolls as Sgt Kemp, Sam Steel as Bertram Bartam and Andrew Isherwood, fresh from directing Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, as The Hermit.  A supporting ensemble will play Transylvanians, students and more besides.   

“Every bit as relevant to audience members who will remember the original as it will be to newcomers, Young Frankenstein has all the of panache of the screen sensation with a little extra theatrical flair added,” says Robert. “Young Frankenstein is scientifically proven, monstrously good entertainment.”

Pick Me Up Theatre in Young Frankenstein, Grand Opera House, York, October 31 to November 4, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Thursday and Saturday matinees. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.