Fall Play 2013 - "Frankenstein"

We decided to tackle the extraordinary tale of a gruesome and grotesque creature hand-crafted by a mad scientist named Victor... ...sometime in the past.
It was a good choice for the Fall of 2013
and proved to be a lot of fun!

Mary Shelley's masterfully adapted classic Frankenstein was selected to be the 2013 WGHS Drama Department Fall Play and it was presented on the Jerry R. Knight Auditorium stage Nov. 7th, 8th, and 9th at 7:00pm to very enthusiastic audiences.

By Tim Kelly (based on an adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein)
and was produced with special arrangement with Samuel French.

PRE-PRODUCTION - "The front end"

The show selections for this year's season took some time. The Fall slot is normally reserved for the musical and it is usually held in the Auditorium, but we hoped to have the show judged for the State Conference. So, because of limited funds and resources, we recognize that a box-set play would definitely be easier to design, to fund and to travel (possibly twice).

We have limited storage for the sets stock in the Auditorium area and so the set had to be build to stack and store in a very small area of space. (mostly on top of the piano box)

We also figured that if we were planning on a State adjudication we should go ahead and plan to try for a national conference slot as well, so we designed the set to fit in a U-Haul if needed. (Unfortunately we did not get invited to State, and another show was selected to go to nationals from MO...we shall try again another day. Anyhoo!) We rocked it out!

"The cast was great, I totally followed that entire story, and it was a very complex discussion!" an audience member

The cast of the 2013 production of Tim Kelly's Frankenstein
 Directed by Sarah Romanowski and Todd Schaefer
Frankenstein is an epic show,
 and turned out to be a huge success for our department!
It is written by Tim Kelly to be a box set of Victor's study in the family's vacation chateau on Lake Geneva. The original design described in the back of the text seemed a bit oversized for us, it had too much set, and so we changed it up quite a bit to fit our needs better.

It has a nice and small cast of 8 total (4m/4f).

It has a shorter script (only 66 pages).

The text is extremely challenging, the debates are lengthy and the story is absolutely thrilling.
It was a joy to produce with the high school theater kids (cast, crew and tech classes), they got into the thriller, and the moments we were able to build on stage, in the end, became quite electrifying for the audience.

We got to do lots of great make-up and hair.

We got to play with a real Hollywood prop gun on stage in a very cool classic theatrical climatic scene! It was thrilling and extremely fun to watch.

The tech Theater Class got to participate in workshops on set painting and make-up. They learned how to apply various techniques to achieve different textures. They got to see various gore make-up techniques being applied as well during class.

Our calendar listing in the Webster Kirkwood times!

Creating a man out dead body parts can really take it out of you!
 Victor and Henry the ethics of making a bride for the creature.

Henry and Justine having a moment of mistaken identity!

The real joy of this play's script was the eloquent language and the author's word play. We all loved the way that Tim Kelly built suspense, scared us and created this very creepy world of people becoming drunk on power. It was fun to discuss all of the backstory. With a story based on the novel it's fun to pull from that source as well. (even though there were many differences between the two)

The script was layered and did a great job at giving just enough to keep us hooked and
wanting to know what's was coming next!

The lengthy debates take us over the big issues with topics about life and death. It talks about the liberties we take with human life and sometimes the bodies of the dead. The characters talk about many sides of the issue(s). The actors handled these tough conversations with dynamic precision!

The play is about manipulation and persuasion. The cast played each of the big moments with finesse, there was a sense of wonder with each character, they all clearly wanted something, and all along our actors all knew exactly where the pulse of the show sat. There was a real sense of control in everyone's performance. The conversations were very passionate, they were thoughtful, they all listened to each other well, and they took us with them as they explored this weird and disturbed family story. Always fun to watch.
Each and every night the show evolved and the actors brought extra nuance to their characters.

It was extremely well played by the cast. Each of them displayed such amazing and unique characters for the audience to love, hate and sympathize during the story's unfolding.

The actors got to play various ages and they had the opportunity to play a wide range of strong emotion over the 5 scene , 2 act structure. 

Elizabeth mourns.... 
Henry examines the creature's gunshot wound 
Zachary Sullivan as Henry and Duncan Kinzie as The Doctor

Getting started!

After the general Thespian meeting on the 23rd, Mr. Schaefer held a quick workshop were he modeled the way auditions would go. He coached a few students on taking direction and how to approach the style of the piece. It being a more lyrical show, the style is a bit elevated, but is to be kept very natural without losing the energy.

The process was pretty painless. We held a two day audition for the show. The actors had to do a monologue the first day. We had a small panel at the casting table, and after everyone had performed we cut the number down and began to assign the actors to specific characters we wanted to see them read for the next day in a callback.


It is always fun to see student's grow each year. We hope that even when kids don't get cast in one show, that they come back and try again. Each show is so different and each student grows up a bit every year. Confidence is sometimes a huge factor and we try to pull out the best in everyone during auditions, but we also know it can be very stressful and taxing on the actors.

Everyone seemed to be excited about the show choice and when the school year started their was a small buzz of excitement around the department about the upcoming auditions.

The department was fortunate to get a cast with big energy and in the end we absolutely felt confident in front the two ITS State judges.

The Cast of Frankenstein

Congrats to the cast for an amazing journey!

We really like to give new actors in the department a honest chance when we cast our main stage shows. However, it is usually a clear decision amongst the casting table at any audition once everyone has had a chance to perform. That's really the art of casting, when you can arrange the pieces right. Each show is always so different.

We always tailor our auditions to allow each person a chance with the parts available. After that brief amount of time we have with each audition we are usually pretty sure who is ready for the show. We can also gauge who is wanting it bad enough, who can see themselves as a specific character and display the qualities during a reading, and we see the ones who exhibit some of the other stage skills that maybe needed for to physical a part of the character or know how to take the necessary direction in that specific show.

Auditions can be surprising and show you things you never expected...that's why they so much fun.

The turn out was great! We used the drama room for the first day and then took the scene work into the Auditorium to see how they worked on the big stage.


Our cast had several seasoned actors from the department, but also several newcomers. They were well placed in their roles and immediately they began to bond.

The Men

Victor ………………………Duncan Kinzie

Henry………………………Zack Sullivan

Ernst………………………Peyton Lansing

The Creature…………Eugene Gardiner

The Ladies

Elizabeth……………...Olivia Kohring

Mother…………………Emily Jackoway

 Sophie…………………Annelise Kerr Grant

Justine…………………Gabriella Berkley

Duncan played the Doctor with verve, a fighter's drive, and with an enormous amount of energy that was contagious. From early rehearsals each actor started playing a character in the play that gets infected by the Doctor's fever. Zach's Henry was a man who at first fought the idea but then bought into the idea because of potential fame. He got money hungry and died. Mother caught the Dr.'s fever of curiosity and Emily really took her time with the performance of the character mother. Her quick and snide interpretation of Mother's lines was fabulous. Unfortunately she dies because she doesn't listen to his warning and Mother has to explore on her own. Peyton starts the play with Annaleise and they kick the plot into motion almost immediately as the lights come up. They tell us the facts and gossip. The audience is instantly drawn in. The plot is deliciously melodramatic at times and allowed for some light humor to be found in places. The favorite moment had to be the tossing of the hand across the stage. (Zack never dropped it!) Gabbie of course milked every moment as the Gypsy (as she should with a part like that!) Her Justine was a fast talking innocent the audience wished could they have had more time with, but alas she appears only once:( Liv's Elizabeth has spunk and gives into what society asks of her, but in the end almost dies because of being so naïve. Liv added spark to the dialogue in every scene she was in. The special ingredient in the plot is the Creature and Eugene's creature grew into a truly interesting monster, and he played the creature with a variety of agenda's and each time he changed his path we felt just as betrayed as the Doctor.

                          The creature proved at times to be a worthy adversary for the Doctor!

Tech Assignments
The technical requirements of this show were exciting from the first read. Mrs. R and Mr. Schaefer had been excited to put the show up since the Spring a year before.

We were able to do some new things with this show that we have not gotten to play with in any other show we've produced. Most important to mention is the "prop gun" and how we got to rent one from a Hollywood Prop house with blanks. The rental arrived in the main office and caused quite a stir.

Duncan was the only one who fired the prop gun on stage
and so he was only one who could handle it in the cast.
The prop gun was fired three times each night of the show and each time the scene was over it went back under lock and key to keep Dr. Riss and Dr. Clark's nerves at bay for all the potential safety issues with having guns on campus. 
We were lucky to have the opportunity to use the gun in the our show. It was a worthwhile struggle to have the debate with the administration about the prop and to make sure they knew the purpose of the prop and the value it added to the scene. We also were lucky to be able to go out to Mrs. R's house in Arnold, MO and practice firing the prop in her backyard.
That allowed the actors and Mr.Schaefer to practice loading it and getting used to the scene. 


Tech Theater always reads the play out loud in class and in Sept they immediately began the lists and plans for the set, props, costumes, lighting, and sound. The period was researched and everything that Tim Kelly (the author) asked for, we tried to get! Of course you always have those things that have to be adapted or those things that are added to help out the directors.

Every production allows the Tech classes to explore the specific requirements of the production and then to explore all of the design opportunities that help make the production completely unique to our version. It what makes WGHS productions great!
Justine the Gypsy trying her best to convince Victor she's innocent! 


It didn't take long to secured most of the necessary technicians for this show and most of the crew members working the show had done last year's musical and had come back for another chance at their jobs.

The CREW Chiefs

 Emma Lingle................Student Director

Lauren Newsome................Stage Manager

Janae Irby...........................Asst Stage Manager

Ryan Tuminnello......Mstr Electrician/Light Chief

and ...TICKETS!

Ms. Rambo (in the main office) was so kind as to design our tickets for us, so they were some generic piece of paper, but a cool ticket for a scary show!

Jonah Schnell....................................................................Sound Chief (engineer)
Jacob Noce........................................................................Sound (cordless mics)
Erica Donermeyer.............................................................Sound (onstage)
Kate Arendes......................................................................Live Composer/pianist

The sound for the show was awesome! We had the opportunity to build suspense with the sound design. Lots to create! Lightning, thunder, and lots of different lab noises. Jonah and Jacob worked magic with the sound. Engineered terrific sound effects for the scenes that needed them. They leveled the cordless mics extremely well and almost had a perfect run with no feedback and nice clear volume.

LIVE Piano Score
Kate Arendes (pianist/composer) joined rehearsals early on and started to add accents to the scenes as she figured out what to play. In the end she created a fabulous soundscape for the production. She added punctuation onto moments and built suspense under the actors and followed their lead. It was a lot of fun to hear her become another character in the chow, never upstaging another actor, and just offering another element to the story.  

Lily Newsham..................................................................Running Crew
Annelise Kerr-Grant..........................................................Running Crew

The props were fewer than last spring, but with the help of Lily and AKG we got the scene changes down to next to nothing. It was cool to have the scene changes remain in the story by using maids be the running crew.

Sarah Drost.......................................................................Costume Dresser
Gabbie Moreland..............................................................Costume Dresser

Clare Kercher...................................................................Make-up/Hair (Victor,Henry,Ernst)
Moby Bolinger...............................................................  Make-up Asst (Mother)
Caitlin Voda.....................................................................Make-up Asst (Creature)
Halle Stoeppler.................................................................Make-up Asst (Sophie/Mother)
Maddie Tolskin................................................................Make-up Asst (Creature)
Sarah Drost.......................................................................Hair (Sophie)


                                                 The entire cast and crew of the production 

The rehearsal process was fairly smooth and the cast learned a lot! Each of these characters were tough to crack and the text was slightly lyrical at times. The interpretation of some of the script gave the actors trouble and made it a challenge to over come.

The set is being built and the cast is getting comfortable on the structure.
We had time in the process to stop a lot and play with all the possible choices for a moment and we never felt that we were against the clock. The cast worked very hard to get off book and the set went up rather quickly for them to play on it and get used to the layout and adapt their blocking. 

We held the first part of the rehearsal process for this Fall show in the drama room and then we took them down to the Aud once the set was up. (We had done this for Noises Off as well and it worked out) 



The tech classes began the design work on the show the first of Sept and worked for two and half months on the designs for this show (Set, PR marketing materials, and the props). Once everything is listed and ordered we begin. PR materials are always the first thing we do.

The PR for the show was essential to ensure a large crowd for the run. We knew that we would be closing the balcony of the Auditorium. The cast was small and that usually will affect the number of patrons, so we tried to keep the audience contained to make the room feel as full as possible.


                     Flyers designed by Claire Gilb and Tara Bray

We also made color posters, and hand painted banners (some on paper and one on a thicker black canvas for around the school and to hang in front of the school), placed an ad in the Webster Kirkwood Times calendar, and also ran announcements during second hour.

One of the many extremely cool poster designs created by the Tech Theater classes
This design is by Matt Walch (with some final editing by Mr. Schaefer)
            Caleb Howell's design (6th hour tech) and Emma Austin's (3rd hour tech) poster designs
The Posters are always placed on the stage in a line and the cast and crew are given a sticky note to place on their favorite. The classes also get a vote. We then take the top 4 or 5 designs and they are printed and hung around campus, used on the web and hung around the Webster community.

T-SHIRT Design
The T-shirt designs that were generated by the classes were awesome.

The process is simple. The tech classes have to create a stencil design that is drawn in pencil first, and then after they are happy with the design it is gone over in black Sharpie. We try to come up with original fonts that work well with the themes of the show, and they are required to incorporate a symbol or symbols from the show as well.

We had a lot of great designs. The ones that are not chosen for the show's t-shirt are used instead for the senior entrance banner and for the paper banners (this year everything was done on a black background with white lettering. Clean and classic!)

The original stencil design by Alex

We always try and let the cast pick the design, and this year it was almost unanimous. The cast was asked to settle on which designs would work best where in the PR campaign...they all looked great and worked well in getting butts in seats when the time came.

The T-shirt was designed entirely by hand.
Alex Wieselman was the artist responsible for this very cool design!
(Special thanks to Mrs. Genovese and T's 4U for printing our fabulous show shirts each year)


We always tried to approach the work with a very close look at all the options we had...taking budget and time into account at every turn. The classes had lots of great ideas and we tried to use as many as we could. We used all of the stock flats and platforms we had at our disposal.

The tech classes spend two days of classes repairing all of the flats before we started the build.

The Floor Plan

               The initial floor plan that the tech classes used to design the frontal elevations

This was Mr. Schaefer's first box set in the space and the design was a completely free standing ste. We only used stage weights to hold it up. The angles of all the walls helped!

The set design that was described in the script was not what we wanted, so we took a new approach with the levels and the layout of the space. The classes got to draw up designs for each wall. We spent about two weeks drawing each section and even a day on the railing. A lot of the designs were fantastic and so we had to morph a bunch ideas into one design to build.
(That's how it always works, and it makes for some really cool sets!)

The furniture was partially from our stock, friend's basements, and from tech class. We made the bar and the chaise lounge. The desk was table from stock and the rugs came from the Little theater lobby. The couch is a piece we have used in several shows. 
The final look of the set with all of the lighting finished, was absolutely stunning!
Lots of attention to detail was paid in this production, and lighting got it's fair share of time spent. There were many little areas of the stage that contained a moment in the show.
               Lost of depth in the design. The room looked very large and hopefully expensive.
(Liv as Elizabeth hiding from the creature after he discovers her in the second to last scene)
We really tried to use all of the space we had and so the conversation of the characters moved the actors physically all over the set. The lighting of these areas had a combination of many varied highlights and shadows built into them to help keep the picture interesting for the audience.  
          The creature strangles the life out of Henry and breaks his neck in an act of vengeance!
We used a lot of saturated colors to help push the fantasy element. At times the show looked like a design you'd see on the CW in one of their pulpy action shows.
                                                  The creature is dead! Or is he?
                                       Eugene makes a final pose at the very end.
All of the little details of the study made it inviting, a bit scary and ultimately one-of-a-kind. The practical lighting really helped to create the mood and also allowed Ryan to create the flicker we needed when their is power shortages from the lab.
This included 2 chandeliers, 4 wall sconces, a floor lamp and some desk/table lamps that all flickered on cue.  We also used three gobos of windows from the FOH  to create the large windows on the fourth wall.  

The Technical Theater classes (3rd and 6th Hour) really pulled out all the stops and worked harder than any other year! They really filled each hour with hard labor during the build period.
We blew through a lot of trim wood on this one. 
The Tech Theater Classes really displayed some teamwork! 

3rd Hour Technical Theater (one half of the design team...6th Hour not pictured)

Several people on the show crew were new, but most were returning. It was fun to watch the students who had done a show already working with more confidence.

There was this atmostephere of creativity that made the dressing room buzz with anticipation before each show.
That really makes it fun!

Claire Kercher working out a color pallete for Liv during a rehearsal before tech week.
This was a great opportunity for her to see what was working under the stage lights.
Show night became a quick and clean routine for the make-up crew, but like every show...
by the time you get the routine down it's time to close!
(Claire applying the fake eyelashes on Liv)

                                                        The dressing room for the stars!

We always take over the downstairs area for our dressing room and to do the make-up for the cast. It right off stage and as long as the pipes aren't too hot it isn't so bad. Better than being too cold.

The Making of the Creature!
We used several different techniques to bring the creature to life.

It all started with Mrs. R and Lauren straightening Eugene's hair.

Caitlin and Maddie added an application of liquid latex.

Then we applied a series cuts and added a lot of redness around the cuts.

Purple and blues were used for bruising. The cuts were darkened with black and stitches were added with black lines. Only one eye had the white contact to make it look dead. Last but not least we added some green tones to the eyes and some green slime residue coming out of his mouth and dripping down his chin.
With a little tooth black and some grease in the hair...
The Creature was born!

Eugene Gardiner as the Creature!
Don't make me angry...you won't like me when I'm angry

The other make-up used in the show was old age for mother, a five o'clock shadow for Ernst, glamour make-up for Elizabeth and Justine, a very natural look for Sophie and Henry, and darkening of some of Victor's features.

                Emily being painted to look old                            Gabriella looking fresh faced

 Eugene looking for his costume

We also had some elaborate hair styles. (We never did have to put a wig on anyone). Liv was able to use her own hair and had a fabulous curly up-do that Mrs. R managed each night.

                                                   Elizabeth ready for her wedding night

Other make-up and hair included Sophie in a wonderfully Germanic braided bun style. Mrs. R. also working up a French twist/bun style for Mother that worked well with her night cap too.

Mother and Sophie are always trying to figure out Victor's ways

The ritual of theater backstage makes each night predictable in a good way. We get into a rhythm by the time we open and it helps keep the nerves at bay for the most part. Its good to have some nerves, but adding tech in a little early helps everyone feel a bit more confident it will all get done by the start time.

The room was a manufacturing line of "characters"


Gabbie and Gabbie...and fake eyelashes! Always a good time!

The make-up and hair was very well executed by the teams and the cast always looked great!

We had the wonderful opportunity to visit the REPERTORY THEATER OF ST LOUIS's costume warehouse on a fieldtrip with Duncan, Zach, Liv and Mr. Schaefer. We got to play in the clothes and pick out some of the costumes for the show! Soooo freaking cool. (and then we went to see Evita at the FOX and Duncan fell asleep during all of Act I...he was a bit tired I guess)

The other clothing was pulled from our stock and/or assembled from a couple trips to Johnnie Brocks Dungeon off Jefferson Avenue downtown.

           The boys looking dapper                We always love the tops hats!

The wedding dress was a combo of many pieces of clothing, and it always had to be repaired a bit during this production, but it looked great onstage. (Don't trip Liv!!!)     

The Rep's stock rocked! This is a three piece Victorian dress that looked like it was made for Liv, and she wore it very well. Don't get to pull costumes like this everyday!

 Gabbie Moreland dressed the gypsy (played by Gabbie B.) in a skirt that was created from three skirts pulled from stock and the tops was also from stock. Once it was all put on Gabriella Berkeley it worked out awesome!

Mrs R. magically turned a trench into a frock!     Emily got to wear a fabulous blue dress with gloves

It's easy looking good!

Once the costumes were seen under the lights and on the beautiful set the picture was complete and we knew we had a show on our hands! We had a wonderful palette for the show that kept the set in more brown/red natural tones and we had the costumes move into more muted primary and pastels. It really helped keep the actors popping! They really stood off the set's really warm hue.

Everything blended together beautifully!

Liv and Duncan working the moment.
The audience begins to see the future of Elizabeth and Victor
and where the characters start to show real love for each other.
(This scene received additional time in rehearsal to get the blocking right, and it ended up great!)

Mel Umbaugh and Ryan Tuminnello (both Thespian Officers for 2013-2014) worked the house each night and the drama parents worked the concessions. It was an awesome spread each night when the audience arrived and again during intermission that consisted of coffee, hot cocoa, baked goodies, Fruit Snacks and all kinds of treats. Delicious!

We are so thankful for all of the help they provided the show!
We made a little money from the hard work and donation of time from our drama parents!

We also held one "minute to give it" the last night of the show and made some additional funds that were added to the total profit. Overall we did very well. We paid all of our bills and were still able to put some of the money away for next year.  This was not a cheap show. Lots of rental cost and set construction receipts.

Special Thanks to everyone who was involved in any way with this amazing production.
We thank you!
We had such a great time!
The see a video montage of the show
please click on the following link:


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