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'The Gravedigger: A Tale of Frankenstein's Monster' Lurches Toward Chicagoland Premiere in Time for Halloween

By Jon Sobel j.sobel@classicalite.com on Sep 05, 2014 04:21 PM EDT

First Folio Theatre launches its 19th season with the world premiere of gothic drama The Gravedigger: A Tale of Frankenstein's Monster by Joseph Zettelmaier (Salvage). Jeff Award nominee Alison C. Vesely (First Folios A Moon for the Misbegotten) will helm the production, which includes a special late-night fundraising Halloween show.

First Folio's home at Mayslake Peabody Estate, a Tudor Revival mansion in Oak Brook outside Chicago, seems a ideal location for Zettelmaier's sequel to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. It takes up the story where Shelley left off, from the Monster's perspective, and in a forgotten Bavarian cemetery (a set designed by Angela Miller) where "a lone gravedigger finds a hideously scarred man hiding in a fresh grave…both men soon realize how interconnected they are as their shared, gruesome pasts slowly unfold."

The cast includes Craig Spidle (Twelfth Night at First Folio, Fiddler on the Roof at Drury Lane) as "Kurt" (The Gravedigger), Joshua Caroll as "Anton" (The Monster), Simina Contras as "Nadya" (A Gypsy) and Doug MacKechnie as "Victor" (The Creator).

The prolific Zettelmaier is a four-time Best New Play nominee for the Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association Award. Lighting design is by Jeff Award winner Michael McNamara, sound design by Jeff Award winner Christopher Kriz and costumes by Rachel Lambert.

As its name suggests, First Folio stages a lot of Shakespeare. Besides The Gravedigger, the upcoming season includes The Winter's Tale. Comedy is well represented too this season by Neil Simon's Laughter on the 23rd Floor and Love, Loss, and What I Wore by Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron.

But the location's gothic-style charm naturally lends itself to 18th century gothic dramas. In past years the company has staged an adaptation of Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto, also directed by Vesely, and the extremely popular The Madness of Edgar Allan Poe.

Previews for The Gravedigger: A Tale of Frankenstein's Monster begin October 1 for an official run October 4 through November 2 at the Mayslake Peabody Estate, located at 1717 W 31st St., off Rt. 83, in Oak Brook, IL.

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TagsFrankenstein, Mary Shelley, First Folio Theatre, Chicago, Joseph Zettelmaier, Gravedigger, Halloween, Horror, gothic