By Ben Olson
For Keely Gray, the phrase, “The show must go on,” is especially appropriate when it comes to the upcoming production of Young Frankenstein. Gray’s nonprofit theater organization, Lake Pend Oreille Repertory Theater, first planned to present the play based on Mel Brooks’ classic comedy film on Halloween 2021, but COVID-19 complications forced the production to postpone.
“LPO Repertory Theater incorporated in December of 2019, and this is slated to be our first production,” Gray told the Reader. “Originally, we thought it would be a fantastic idea to bring Young Frankenstein to Sandpoint for Halloween 2021, but then COVID reared its ugly head. … Luckily, the Panida had these February dates available.”
Young Frankenstein will take the main stage of the Panida Theater over the next two weekends, with opening night on Saturday, Feb. 19. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m. Doors will open for the Sunday, Feb. 20 matinee show at 2:30 p.m. with showtime at 3 p.m. The following week’s performances will be Saturday, Feb. 26 and a matinee show Sunday, Feb. 27 with door and showtimes the same as the previous weekend.
Directed by Gray, Young Frankenstein is a musical that is guaranteed to bring laughs. Starring a legendary local cast, including Andrew Sorg, Kate McAlister, Ashley López and Holly Beamen, this hilarious musical is sure to bring down the house.
“The greatest thing about this play is that all the music was written by Mel Brooks,” Gray said. “I didn’t know this before.”
Gray said the play follows Brooks’ iconic movie, with the main story mostly remaining the same with the addition of musical numbers written by Brooks sprinkled in where they fit best in the story.
Since it’s a high hurdle to fund a musical, Gray held a speakeasy fundraiser in 2021 to help fill the coffers to take on this production.
“We’ve raised over $15,000 and our production budget is dang near close to that,” Gray said. “Musicals can be very daunting. Most plays that don’t have any music, you just pay to perform them to honor the playwright so they’re compensated for their work. Musicals are a whole different bag of tomatoes. There’s the music, the story, the dialogue and, often when you purchase a musical, you also have to buy specific choreography. Musicals in general are astronomical in price.”
Adding on the set design, costumes, makeup, printing and additional costs, it’s easy to see how the price tag to stage a musical like Young Frankenstein can easily climb. But it’s all part of the show, Gray said, whose mission with LPO Repertory Theater is to be a “true blue” community theater that puts on high-quality productions with dynamic set design, expertly rehearsed songs, and choreography and a backstage crew and cast dedicated to putting on the best show they can.
Courteny Roberts will be stage managing, Hannah Combs and Chris Quayle have been tapped as costume designers. Paige MacDonald has taken on the task of choreography. In addition to directing, Gray is also acting as lighting and set designer, with her husband Alan helping build the set.
“Our choreographer Paige is just incredible,” Gray said. “She came up with some of the most fun, most interesting choreography I’ve ever seen.”
Gray was also complementary of the Sandpoint Envision Center, which allowed the cast a space for the majority of rehearsals and blocking.
“Courtenay is also an incredible stage manager,” Gray said. “She’s so professional. It’s insane that they just started with the show two weeks ago. All of these guys on the crew just stepped in seamlessly and joined the family.”
Gray hopes Young Frankenstein is the start of a long run of productions by LPO Repertory Theater.
“In the future, we really hope to bring Sandpoint four to six shows per year when we hit our peak. … There are times as a director and founder of the company, when you can get stressed about all the minutia, but one thing I’m really proud of is we all really like each other and enjoy spending time together. For the first show, I couldn’t have asked for a better group.”
Young Frankenstein (PG-13) • Saturday, Feb. 19, 7 p.m.; Sunday, Feb. 20, 3 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 26, 7 p.m.; Sunday, Feb. 27, 3 p.m. $25. Panida Theater, 301 N. First Ave., 208-263-9191, panida.org. A COVID-19 vaccination or negative COVID-19 test is required for entry during opening weekend. No vaccination or test is required for entry for the showtimes on Feb. 26-27.
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