DAG announces cast for Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein” the musical

Photo by Sue Suchyta
Tap rehearsals began Aug. 6 at the Downriver Actors Guild in Wyandotte for “Putting on the Ritz” from Mel Brook’s, “Young Frankenstein” the musical. The number, choreographed by Christopher Chavez (third from left) of Allen Park, features dancers Kayla Chavez (left), 13, of Allen Park; Lara Keathley of Southgate; and Mitchell Sturm, 16, of Taylor.

The Downriver Actors Guild at Out of the Box Theater in Wyandotte announced the cast of the Mel Brooks musical comedy “Young Frankenstein” last week. The show includes a strong dance chorus, including tappers, in addition to the leads and supporting cast.

The show runs at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 8, 9, 15 and 16, and 3 p.m. Nov. 10 and 17. For tickets or more information, call 313-303-5269 or go to www.downriveractorsguild.net.

Lucinda Chavez of Allen Park said she was a bit apprehensive when asked to direct the production, since she said it is a huge show with multiple sets and special effects, and directing comedy is her forte. Once she read the script, however, she said she became eager to direct the production.

“It’s classic Mel Brooks with the corny bawdy lines and witty delivery from over-the-top characters,” Chavez said.

She was pleased with the talented people who auditioned for the show.

“This is the first time ‘Young Frankenstein’ the musical has been staged in the Downriver area,” Chavez said. “We have assembled an outstanding cast, and the excitement at the read-through was amazing. If we are laughing this much at the first rehearsal, we are in for a wonderful and memorable experience.”

She said the show’s energy is consistent from beginning to end, and the script stays close to the movie starring Gene Wilder.

The show includes several toe-tapping dance numbers, including a tap number to Irving Berlin’s “Puttin’ on the Ritz.”

Christopher Chavez, Lucinda’s son, is choreographing the tap number. He said the humor comes from the monster — a “big goof,” played by Tony Primeau of Southgate — being able to tap.

He said tuxedos with top hats and canes are included in the number.

“We’re incorporating a whole bunch of flipping of the hat and flipping of the cane and all that stuff,” Chavez said.

Lara Keathley of Southgate, who is simultaneously in the cast of DAG’s upcoming fundraiser “Jerry’s Girls,” a tribute to the songs of Jerry Herman, will dance in the tap number. She said tapping with a cane makes the number more elegant and regal. She added that posture is very important, because if you slouch you lose your cane.

Debbie Aue is choreographing the rest of the show with numbers that she said are classic Broadway jazz, from the opening town scene to a ballroom waltz.

She said “Transylvania Mania” is to this show what “Time Warp” is to “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

“It’s a set dance – ‘Transylvania Mania’ – everybody knows it, so that’s kind of fun,” Aue said. “And then there’s ‘Join the Family Business,’ which is a bunch of ghosts that are coming out of the castle, and that’s very Broadway.”

Aue said the music complements the storyline.

“If you liked the movie you’ll love the musical,” Aue said. “It just makes it funnier.”

She added that you do not get too many shows any more where you get to do true hat and cane, classic Broadway-type choreography.

“It’s going to be a very, very funny show,” Aue said. “We’ve got some of the cream of the crop from the tri-county area in the show.”

The cast includes Leo McMaster of Rockwood as Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, Tony Primeau of Southgate as the Monster, Michael Gravame of Sterling Heights as Igor and Carolyn Sohoza of Allen Park as Inga.

Leah Paige Cooley of Lincoln Park portrays Elizabeth Benning, with Michele Devins of Southgate as Frau Blucher, Jay Carter of Taylor as Inspector Hans Kemp and Rob Eagal of Trenton as the Blind Hermit.

Paul Primeau of Brownstown Township plays Dr. Victor Von Frankenstein and Raymond Carter of Taylor plays Ziggy.

The tappers include Aue, Jessalyn Strum, Mitchell Sturm and Kayla Nagy of Taylor; Kayla Chavez of Allen Park; Alana Hubbard of Dearborn Heights; Lara Keathley of Southgate; and Molly Sute of Brownstown Township.

Other ensemble members include Loretta Bullock of Southgate; Ashley Novelo and Eleanor Smith of Taylor; Melissa Foster of Dearborn; Jami Mullins and Taylor Towers of Trenton; Charlene Bauer of Woodhaven; Craig Carrico of Detroit; Brianne Rainey of Brownstown Township; and D.J. Gilleran.

Additional dancers are Michael Suchyta of Dearborn and Jenna Gadille of South Rockwood.


Eric Begosian’s “Drinking in America,” directed by Mary Bremer, opens Thursday in the MacKenzie Fine Arts Center at Henry Ford Community College, 5101 Evergreen Road in Dearborn.

The show runs at 8 p.m. Aug. 15 to 17 and 22 to 24, and 2 p.m. Aug. 18 and 25.

Tickets are $15 general admission, with $12 tickets for students, faculty, staff and seniors. For tickets or more information, contact Gerry Dzuiblinski at 313-845-9817 or via email at gadzuiblinski@hfcc.edu.

The show features both humorous and insightful monologues that examine the American male: the good, the bad and the ugly. The show also features music and a word from the women.

The show features strong language and mature themes, as well as profanity and sexual and drug references.