Chattanooga Now CTC Youth Theatre's 'Frankenstein' wants to fit in

Chattanooga Now CTC Youth Theatre's 'Frankenstein' wants to fit in

September 30th, 2011 by Clint Cooper in Chattanooga Now - Art

The Frankenstein monster, like anyone else, just wanted to fit in.

His creator, in the end, also found out how difficult it is to do.

"Frankenstein," based on the classic novel by Mary Shelley, opens the Chattanooga Theatre Centre's Youth Theatre season today for the first of three weekends.

The play, said director Maria Chattin-Carter, is somewhat of a self-discovery tale for both Dr. Victor Frankenstein and the monster he created.

Unfortunately, both must learn painful lessons about themselves.

The monster, having looked in a mirror, sees the painful truth about his appearance and understands why society shuns him wherever he turns.

"It emphasizes that our eyes prejudice our hearts," Chattin-Carter said. "That's why the creature cannot find peace. He looks at his outward appearance and [makes a judgment] about him."

Dr. Frankenstein, who created and later abandoned the monster, ultimately finds himself alone when his wife, the monster and the monster's bride all flee him.

"[The monster] turns the tables on him," Chattin-Carter said.

The Youth Theatre version of the horror story is different than the familiar 1931 Boris Karloff movie in which most of the emphases is placed on the creation of the monster, its reign of terror and the search to destroy it.

"It's a more gentle way of telling the story," Chattin-Carter said. While the villagers threaten to kill the monster and the monster gets angry and menacing, "there aren't any deaths that can be scary for young children."

More important, she said, is the lesson that "you shouldn't look [solely] on somebody's outside appearance."

The production has two casts of 14 children from fourth grade through 12th grade to accommodate both school and public performances.

Her performers, she said, are especially excited because of the melodramatic style in which the show is being staged. The lines are delivered more broadly, and the physical gestures are larger.

"We're overplaying everything," she said. "It's our salute to 1930s horror films."

The suggested age for audience members is third grade and up, Chattin-Carter said. Younger children might enjoy the show if they aren't scared by loud noises, she said.