You don’t have to trek into the city to see some great, passion-driven theater — especially since Seaford High School students are scheduled to take the stage next month for a production of “Young Frankenstein.”
The classic Mel Brooks film was released in 1974, starring Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle, Teri Garr, and a supporting cast of comedy icons of the time. The movie follows Frederick Frankenstein, grandson of the notorious Victor Frankenstein from Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel.
But it’s not a horror story like Shelley’s novel — it’s a comedy that takes the original tale and splices in some of Brooks’ timeless humor. After Brooks’ success with “The Producers,” another musical based on of one of his films, he collaborated with playwright Thomas Meehan to bring “Young Frankenstein” to the stage, and it made its Broadway debut in 2007. It soon became available for high schools to perform, and now Seaford will be the next to do so.
“It’s classic comedy,” said Samantha Gates-Weber, director and choreographer of the Seaford High production. “And I love directing that sort of humor, because the kids get it and it’s slapstick, and the audience is going to understand it too. I love that this show has big musical numbers as well, and there are dance breaks and tap dance breaks.”
Gates-Weber graduated from Seaford High School in 2007 and returned as a contractor during the 2008-09 school year to be a director and choreographer for the school’s musicals, having served in that role ever since. The first show she directed at Seaford High School was “Grease.”
Many schools’ theater programs were greatly stifled by the Covid-19 pandemic, but Seaford was lucky. The high school’s performance of “All Shook Up” went on as scheduled in March 2020, with the shutdown happening a week later. In the 2020-21 school year, the students performed “Shrek the Musical” in June, as they donned masks.
In the 2021-22 year, the last year masks were required in schools, Seaford students performed “The Addams Family.” Gov. Kathy Hochul lifted the mask mandate on March 2, and the show went on the following weekend.
And now, “Young Frankenstein” is the first play to be performed in Seaford since “All Shook Up,” in which masks have not even been required for a rehearsal.
“My favorite part about doing this show was learning how to yodel,” senior Raelyn Luft, who plays the Swedish-accented Inga, said. “I originally actually wasn’t going for this part. Once I did auditions, I realized that this was the part that I wanted.”
Luft is an accomplished actress at Seaford High School, having been a part of musicals since sixth grade. Her male counterpart, Dylan Quinn, is coming over from another part of the Seaford High School community. Quinn, a lineman for Seaford’s football team, plays Dr. Frederick Frankenstein. He did partake in the school plays in sixth and seventh grades but throughout high school, he wrestled in the winter. However, a love for singing and a push from Luft encouraged Quinn, a junior, to audition for “Young Frankenstein,” and he landed the titular role.
“I feel like I have more of a future when it comes to music,” Quinn said. “The cast list came out, I left the wrestling team, and I became really committed to this. And I have no regrets.”
Both Luft and Quinn have the vocal chops to lead this show — they have been singing for a long time, have been named as All-County vocalists and plan to pursue singing in college. Luft was recently selected as an alternate for All-Eastern music conference.
Even though “Young Frankenstein” is a comedy, every show has a theme and a goal.“It’s about not judging a book by its cover,” Luft said. “Everyone is scared of the monster at first, but he turns out to be a sweetheart.”
Performances are scheduled for March 3 and 4, with a final dress rehearsal available for viewing on March 2. It will feature tons of singing, big dance numbers, and what Gates-Weber called a secret theater tradition at Seaford High School, which the actors and audience always look forward to.