Classic Horror Story Comes “Alive” At ARTS/West

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Scene One Theatre is kicking off its fourth season with a monster of a production.

Frankenstein: A New Musical, which opens Friday at ARTS/West, is the Athens theater troupe's most ambitious work to date, featuring a large cast, dozens of musical numbers, elaborate set designs and special effects.

"It's a big show all around," confirmed Frankenstein Director Matt Johnson. "We have a cast of 24 actors, many of whom are playing multiple roles. There are more than 30 songs and the show is largely through-sung; comparable to something like Les Miserables, with very little dialogue."

While Scene One's production stays faithful to Mary Shelley's classic novel, Johnson wanted to add a new perspective to the well-known story.

"Our costumes and set design are steampunk-inspired," he said. "But what really makes this show so large is the technical requirements between lights, sound and special effects. The tech for this show is the largest and most complicated–and might I add, most awesome–that Scene One has ever done. It's exciting."

While Scene One is still a relatively new organization, Johnson has been involved with local theater for some time. After spending several years as Alexander High School's theater director, he started Scene One with a few of his former students.

In 2011, he directed the troupe's first show, The Lady Pirates of Captain Bree, which was followed by Little Women: The Broadway Musical in 2012 and two shows last year (The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon and Out of the Frying Pan). Future productions include Egad, the Woman in White this November, Doubt in February 2015 and Honk! in May 2015.

To stage a big show like Frankenstein, the cast and crew have been working hard since June, rehearsing four times a week. All that effort will pay off this weekend, according to Johnson.

"Everyone has been working incredibly hard and are doing a spectacular job with a demanding show," he said, adding that some of the biggest challenges have been dealing with the sheer amount of material.

"The cast had to learn 30-plus songs, many of them with four-and-five-part harmonies. Then on top of that, they have to act and do all of the preparation an actor needs to do," he explained. "But they've been phenomenal and have handled the challenge like pros. They are absolutely going to blow people away and I can't wait for it."

Performances are Aug. 15-17 and 22-24 at ARTS/West, located at 132 West State Street in Athens. Friday and Saturday shows are at 7 p.m. and Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m. Tickets are $11 for adults (13+) and $8 for children.

For more information, visit the Scene One Theatre website at