Young Frankenstein’s cast enjoys wildly comical reunion
In Stage West’s production of the Mel Brooks musical Young Frankenstein that runs at the dinner theatre until June 26, Ontario actor Kevin Dennis plays the sexually repressed science nerd Friedrich Frankenstein.
Friedrich has disavowed any connection to his infamous grandfather, but fate has other plans for the reluctant re-animator.
This wildly comic musical is based on the 1974 movie that starred Gene Wilder as Friedrich, Marty Feldman, Cloris Leachman and Terri Garr as his assistants and Peter Boyle as the man they create of many parts.
Madeline Kahn starred as Friedrich’s hands-off-me fiancee Elizabeth, who becomes a bit too partial to the monster’s parts.
For Dennis, Stage West’s Young Frankenstein is something of a class and classy reunion.
Dennis was just 12 years old when he began acting in the Canadian youth TV series Ready or Not, but in his teens, he turned to the stage and got a job with Theatre Aquarius, a summer youth theatre company.
“That’s where I met Adam Stevenson, who is playing the monster opposite me in Young Frankenstein.
“We’ve known each other and have been friends for 20 years.”
Jump ahead a decade and Dennis is rehearsing for the Toronto revival of the musical Hair for which he didn’t just take off his clothes for his art, but lost his heart to Adrienne Merrell, who now plays his love interest Elizabeth in Young Frankenstein.
“Our story is a bit scandalous,” says Dennis, who married Merrell seven years ago. “We got really serious during the first week of rehearsals.
“It was definitely a combination of lust and love at first sight. That was exactly 10 years ago and it’s taken us all this time to get back on stage together.”
Dennis met Young Frankenstein’s director J. Sean Elliott more than a decade ago when they were appearing in a production of Rob Roy at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
This is the third time Dennis has appeared at Stage West.
He was in Music of the Millennium and British Invasion 2, and it was during the run of British Invasion 2 that Dennis came up with a contest idea.
He challenged his male co-stars to run as Sunshine Boys in the Calgary Sun and let readers and Stage West audience members vote for the show’s hunkiest star.
“I was first runner-up, which is the equivalent of winning second prize in a beauty contest.
“It’s nothing to brag about,” says Dennis, who insists he has no new contests up his sleeve.
Often, when they perform a play based on a famous film, actors shy away from watching that iconic movie.
Not so with the cast of this Young Frankenstein.
“Our director wants to tip his hat to the movie as part of the joke, so he’s asked us to watch specific scenes. That film is so timeless because those performances are so incredible.
“I love playing Friedrich because he is so clueless. He’s married to his work and has so little life experience.
“He’s not as adept with people as he is with his science, which I’m happy to say is not me in the least.”
We got really serious during the first week of rehearsals. It was definitely a combination of lust and love at first sight.