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Frank-ly Scary: Frankenstein Comes Alive

Tara Bennett

Swine Palace is kicking off its 2014-2015 season with a monster of a production.

“Frankenstein” will be performed at the Shaver Theatre, at the Music and Dramatic Arts Building on LSU campus and will run through Oct. 3-12.

Set in nineteenth-century Switzerland, this classic tale of horror and suspense details the ill-fated experiments of young Dr. Victor Frankenstein as he attempts to understand the secrets of life and death. Purchasing cadavers from two unsavory grave robbers, he gives life to a Creature, who is both hideous and touching. But the Creature is so physically powerful and mentally twisted that he soon brings death or destruction to all who stand in his way.

While the show will run in October, and the 1931 Universal film is associated with Halloween, the reason for this play’s selection has nothing to do with the actual holiday.

“Swine Palace is committed to doing a project each year that would have some real resonance with the school systems, and ‘Frankenstein’ is, according to recent surveys, the most widely read novel that is taught in high schools across the country,” said Swine Palace Artistic Director George Judy. “I think it would have a lot of resonance in terms of being able to reach out to school kids and school systems, but also was a great story and a great tale that people would recognize.”

Adapted for the stage by Victor Gialanella, “Frankenstein” adheres more closely to the original novel than the famous motion picture version. The play blends moments of brooding terror and sudden shock with questions of morality and the dangers of unrestrained scientific inquiry, which, according to director Judy, is a perfect choice to present in this age of artificial intelligence, genetic engineering and bio-terrorism.

“It raises some fantastic questions about what it is that defines us as human beings,” said Judy, who explained that in the novel and play versions, the Creature gains language and his own sense of life that is sometimes minimized in the movies. “We get two really sort of worthy adversaries; Victor Frankenstein, a scientist who had the ambition to reanimate life, and his Creature he creates, who becomes in some ways a child in accelerated development, and is thrust into the world.”

The cast of Frankenstein includes young actors as well as more experienced actors from the community in major playing roles. Tim Moriarty stars as Victor Frankenstein with Amanda Clark in the role of his wife, Elizabeth. Visiting New York actor Brendan Avarett will star in the role of the Creature.

“[Avarett] has a wonderful presence, and is a remarkable actor as well,” said Judy. “Him sharing his work as the Creature in the play is going to be exciting in and of itself. I think it will be exciting, great fun. People who know the novel will be very pleased to see the incarnations of these characters.”

For fans of the novel, and those who would like to gain more insight to Shelley’s work, the Swine Palace Book Club will hold its first meeting to discuss Shelley’s novel on Sunday, October, 5 at 2 p.m. at La Madeleine’s on Perkins Rowe.

Performances are Oct. 3-12 at the Swine Palace. Weeknight and Saturday shows are at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m. Tickets range from $15 to $30, and can be obtained from the LSU Box Office by calling 225-578-3527 or by visiting www.swinepalace.org. Tickets can also be purchased in person at these box office locations: LSU Union Theatre and Music & Dramatic Arts Building, Dalrymple Drive.

For more information, visit swinepalace.org.

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