Downtown San Antonio in late October is filled with people in search of festive fear with ghosts and goblins around each corner as long lines swarm haunted houses. 

However, just off of East Commerce, candle-lit tables await a crowd with an appetite for comedy, featuring “The American Frankenstein in Fredericksburg in 3-D.”  

Dressed in a flashy 50’s getup with a cigar in hand, Frankie Stein acts as the talk-show narrator. He is able to pause, rewind and fast forward scenes to the audience’s liking. Actors onstage perform the “movie,” part scripted and part improvisation, unaware of the Stein’s uprising wit.

The play is filled with sensual innuendos, and some audience members chime in with one-liners, creating slap-stick comedy on the spot.

Some of the male roles are played by female characters: Brandi Hollsten plays sherriff Bill Miller and Tara Hershberger plays Little William and Schmetz.  Elisabeth Cradenza is played by Josue Gonzalez, a husky man dressed in vintage attire.  The dramatic acting overshadowed the exchange in roles, and in many instances added to the comedic effect. 

“So far it’s pretty cool. Back in the day we didn’t have movies; we had plays and improv,” UTSA alumni, Philip Nunez said. “It’s good to see their enthusiasm and creativity.”

David Ankrom, who plays the hunchback Igor Clerval, proved to be a crowd favorite. His facial expressions and child-like fancy for Elisabeth Cradenza sent Frankie Stein into rewind mode. 

The fast forward and rewind modes are impressive, as well as the recollection of the actors’ lines with an interruption at any time.

“It’s comedy at its best. I loved the scene when [Igor] couldn’t get his hands off of Elisabeth,” said Tracy White.

The play, written by Magik Theatre founder Richard Rosen is structured by a script, but not bound to it.  While working the machine just before the monster is brought to life, Victor Frankenstein and Clerval push different buttons.  Clerval made a witty comment and Frankenstein said, “Just pretend to push buttons, it’s a drawing,” with his voice still in character.

“I thought it was pretty awesome.  I had great time, I’d see it again,” Allison Weaver, 13, said.

Even the monster has a sense of humor, as he rhymes like Dr. Seuss, hides behind a lampshade and expresses the beauty of Cradenza with lines of Shakespeare.  Each member of the cast is dramatic, bringing the play to life.

Frankie Stein is a blend of “Whose Line is it Anyway?” and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein with a San Antonio-kick. Many locations mentioned in The Frankie Stein Show include references from our own backyard, as intended by the writer.

Willkommen [Welcome in] to the The Frankie Stein Show, American Frankenstein in Fredericksburg at 9 p.m., Oct. 29-30 in the Cameo Theatre Zumbro lounge for a night of laughs and original entertainment.  Tickets are $12, for more information visit www.cameocenter.com.

For those theatre lovers, the Cameo Theatre will present Let’s Misbehave, the new Cole Porter musical Dec.9-Jan. 2.

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