Cabaret 2015: Cast Interview with Brad Bone

Brad Bone

Brad Bone

Brad Bone returned to Lyric Arts after a 10 year hiatus from the stage, but after making that comeback in our production of "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)," Brad found  himself juggling multiple roles after being cast in both "Young Frankenstein" and "A Christmas Carol—A Ghost Story of Christmas." Featured recently in the Star Tribune, Brad spoke about acting as "a way to eat" and finds Lyric Arts to be "the outlet I've been looking for."

We're very excited to have Brad Bone as a part of our upcoming Cabaret. Described by Resident Director, Matt McNabb as "such a warm person, you're predisposed to like him," we agree, it'd be hard not to. We interviewed Brad about his time with Lyric Arts. Here's what he shared with us.

LA: How did you become familiar with Lyric Arts?

BB: I’ve driven by many times. One day I saw an audition posting for a show that got me to finally pull over. I’m so thankful I did.

LA: How would your life be different if it wasn’t for Lyric Arts?

BB: Without Lyric Arts, I would be living in a rut of structure. Lyric Arts gives me the outlet to explore and be creative.

LA: Why do you choose to share your passion on this stage?

BB: Honestly, for me, it started with location. But what has kept me here is the people and the opportunity to be working in a theater that is growing so fast as well known brand in Minnesota and has the real talent to back it up.

LA: What moment are you really looking forward to this year for Cabaret?

BB: I am really looking forward to a lyrical dance piece that I’m doing with Katherine Storm. It is a far cry from my character roles and has some great challenging lifts that we’re excited to pull off.

LA: What’s been your very favorite number to perform in your acting and singing career so far?

BB: At lyric arts, my only song I’ve really done was the song “Someone” as the Hermit in Young Frankenstein.

LA: Describe a favorite bonding moment with someone at Lyric Arts

BB: There is not one particular “bonding” moment, but I have found that the theater world is a small one. I have run into so many friends or friends of friends from other times in my life. It is great how Lyric Arts brings so many people back together. Way better than Facebook…as I’m not a social media fan.

LA: How and when did you decide to pursue a career in performing arts?

BB: I wish I had a “career” in performing arts, meaning that I didn’t have to go to a “real” job. My first attempt at anything in the performing arts was my senior year in High School. That opportunity opened the door to a BFA in Duluth.

LA: What other hidden talents might lurk below the surface?

BB: it’s a mystery.

LA: If you could live in any time period, when would it be and why?

BB: No better time than the present.

LA: If you could star in any film, which would you choose and who would you play?

BB: Steve Martin in The Jerk!

LA: What are your favorite musicals?

BB: Honestly, I’m not really a musical actor, so I usually don’t watch them. Being in Young Frank was awesome, and it seemed funny, butt I wish I could have seen it.

LA: Let people know what it feels like to spend your time and talents at Lyric Arts. Any stories that help describe this?

BB: I only want to say that I love every moment I get to spend here, but life is a balancing act between roles on the stage and roles as a husband and father.

"Young Frankenstein" Review- Emily Picardi

emily picardi

emily picardi

First things first (I'm the realest- sorry, couldn't resist): My review of Young Frankenstein cannot possibly be unbiased. I'm a fan of the show and made some memories watching it on Broadway, plus I'm a huge fan of Lyric Arts, and I know almost everyone involved in the production. That said, I'll try to be as objective a critic as I can be.

Disclaimer over. Let's get on with the review!

I saw Young Frankenstein at Lyric Arts this past Thursday, October 16th. The house was almost full, and the audience was responsive and supportive of what was happening onstage. They clearly enjoyed the show, and gave a standing ovation at curtain call.

What was there for the audience to like? Plenty. Young Frankenstein itself (based on the Mel Brooks film of the same name, and adapted for the stage by him) is a brilliantly funny piece of theatre. Brooks parodies the horror monster movie genre joyously, pulling out all the stops and taking huge risks.

Much has been said about the "big" and "risky" aspects of this show. Young Frankenstein was written specifically for a Broadway stage. The original production cost over 16 million dollars. It was designed from the beginning as a spectacle show, calling for all kinds of special effects, a big, talented cast and pit orchestra, and technical perfection. Lyric Arts has taken risks with dramatic content before, and has taken on some moderately flashy shows in the past, but never have they attempted this big a production. Under the direction of Matt McNabb, a Resident Director at Lyric Arts who closed out the last season with his production of RENT, the risk is well managed, and the production- while not as fancy as a $16 million production- is quite impressive, especially when you remember that Lyric Arts is a community theatre.

The shows I've seen at other community theatres in the area (Colorado as well, but that's a totally different story) get blown out of the water by Young Frankenstein. Thank Matt McNabb and the rest of the production staff for working so hard to make this show a reality. McNabb's blocking skillfully navigates the relatively tiny performance space (the set is super big, and takes up a great deal of playing room), taking full advantage of the set to stage complicated location transitions and big dance numbers. Music director Louis Berg-Arnold leads a pit that suffered from intonation issues on the night I attended the production, but was otherwise well practiced. Choreographer Anne Marie Omeish stages the songs with choreography that is a bit too simplistic at times, but is executed happily and well by the cast. Stage Manager Pat Campbell keeps the whole thing running smoothly with very few minute mistakes.

The designers of this production definitely leave their mark. Brian Proball's set design is gigantic, but not overwhelming in the slightest. He makes great use of special effect apparatuses, which include an empty painting and a table with a rig that brings it up into the catwalks. The rig is ultimately very slow, but McNabb handles it well, simply adding a joke into the script about how slow it is. Lighting designer Jim Eischen seems to have programmed a million specials into the production, but if they ever pulled focus it was because they were doing really cool things. Particularly impressive is his integration of lights into the set. Windows are backlit and glowing, candles are well placed, and the big set pieces in the laboratory scenes have all kinds of winking, flickering bulbs that bring the set pieces to the next level. Sound designer Jeff Giesler might have mixed the production so that the orchestra was too loud, but he never shies away from more specific sound effects, including claps of thunder, the rickety metallic sound of Inspector Kemp moving his fake arm, and, of course, the famous horse whinnying that accompanies the name of one of the characters. Costume designer Samantha Fromm Haddow never disappoints. She created costumes that are well fitted, well suited to the production, and add to the characters' personalities. Samantha From Haddow came up with a great makeup design for the Creature's face and it was executed during most performances by Megan Weisenberger.  Heather McLaughlin, Nate Otto, and Lea Chapaton built some killer special props, including the infamous Abby Normal brain.

Then there's the cast. Kyler Chase plays a charming Dr. Frankenstein. His portrayal makes full use of his voice, presenting a clear tenor singing voice one minute and maniacal shouting the next. His crazed expressions and clear physical presence made him one of the funniest people onstage. Katharine Strom as Elizabeth is loud and proud, with a belt and mix voice to make anyone jealous. She was the actor who most made the character her own, with very few vestiges of the original production or movie Elizabeth's in her performance. Nick Menzhuber is delightful as both Inspector Kemp, with the perfect accent, and movements that are appropriately jerky and artificial, and as the deceased Dr. Frankenstein, where he makes use of a big voice and a big physical presence. Brendan Veerman presents an Igor that is almost too adorable, and wonderfully sassy, with strong comedic physicality. Kate Beahen is far too young to play Frau Blücher, but is funny enough to make you forget all about that. Her voice is strong, and her eyebrow game is even stronger. Tom Goerger is physically the perfect Monster, and his darling facial expressions make you love the character a lot earlier than you're supposed to. Brad Bone has a cameo as an old, infirm man (which he certainly is not), and returns later in the show to play a lonely hermit with a Brooklyn accent. His accent and manner of speaking as the hermit are perfect, and both roles are played so gleefully that you can't help but love him. An ensemble standout is Ben Schrade, who managed to take a tiny cameo as a shoeshine who hates suede and turn it into the funniest and most delightfully unexpected moment of the night.

And then, to top it all off, there is Nykeigh Larson as Inga. The show I attended started out on a dour, low energy note, but as soon as she came onstage with her big voice and big smile the energy picked up and everything got brighter. Having seen Nykeigh in many prior shows, I can say that she has grown a great deal in this role. She carries herself with more sexy confidence than I've seen from her in the past, and one wonders how she can be so big onstage when in reality she's such a tiny person. McNabb couldn't have cast a better Inga, as Nykeigh nails the comedy, vocals, and energy.

All these people give their hearts and talents fully to the production, and it shows. Lyric Arts' Young Frankenstein is charming, joyful, and impressive. The theatre has proved, once again, that a little stage fog and a lot of enthusiasm can lead to great things. You won't want to miss this ambitious production.

"Young Frankenstein" Review - Kylie Schultz

Kylie Schultz
Kylie Schultz

As a Mel Brooks devotee and avid musical theater fan, I can say that I whole heartedly relished the day I saw Young Frankenstein when it opened on Broadway. I grew up annually quoting Young Frankenstein with my parents and can recall any moment from the movie at any time in any place. When I saw the musical, you can bet that I had the soundtrack that same night and listened to it on repeat for weeks. All that being said, Lyric Arts Anoka had a very fanatic fan of Young Frankenstein to impress this opening weekend.

And they did it.

Without a doubt, the show is excellent. Mel Brooks proved with The Producers that he writes a fantastic musical from an already brilliant movie, which can be tricky. For all who love to quote along with the movie, know every innuendo and schwanzstucker joke, Young Frankenstein the musical absolutely doesn’t lose its hilarity. In addition, you add catchy musical motifs and dance numbers which enhance the charm and keep a goofy smile plastered on your face the whole show.

I can’t say that I’ve had the pleasure of seeing any show at Lyric Arts in the past, and that made seeing Young Frankenstein so much more impressive. When you’ve seen the show you’ll understand how much of a feat it is to put on. The music is difficult (cheers to Kyler Chase for perfecting “There Is Nothing Like the Brain), the set is intricate, and the choreography involves a lot of people tap dancing simultaneously. All of this is challenging, but expected, on Broadway, and is made all the more impressive when you consider that not one of the actors or crew of this show is paid. The cast of Young Frankenstein put on a show to rival that of a Broadway production, with a set design and technical crew as good as any theater production in the cities. Young Frankenstein has everything:  fantastic actors in leading roles, a dedicated and talented ensemble, an amazing crew, and all the innuendo you can handle with great music to sing it to.

I can’t say enough glowing things about this show and the hard work, dedication, and professionalism that were so clearly and eloquently put into it. I laughed, I cried from laughing, and I left wanting more. I will not only be attending this show twice, but look forward to seeing future shows as Lyric Arts Anoka has earned a special place in my heart.

Kylie Schultz is a Minneapolis local and an Arts Ambassador with Theoroi, a young professionals group of the Schubert Club in St. Paul, MN.

"Young Frankenstein" Audience Review - Roxy Orcutt

I was thrilled to be in audience of Lyric Art’s production of Young Frankenstein this opening weekend for a number of reasons. One: Lyric Arts is awesome, Two: Young Frankenstein is awesome, and Three: I was sharing the evening with my 13-year-old stepson Quinn, who has yet to experience the mad genius of Mel Brooks, Gene Wilder OR Lyric Arts, for that matter (outside of a workshop or two) and I was looking forward to watching his reaction to the show. Young Frankenstein may be the perfect show to bring young person with a great sense of humor to. While the jokes were crammed full of innuendo, of course, it was so fun to not only get a kick out them myself, but watch Quinn laugh along too. It’s a testament to the writing of Gene Wilder holding up all these years (Young Frankenstein was originally produced in 1974!) that a glued-to-his-Smartphone teenager could laugh at Roll is Ze Hay, among others, but it’s also a testament to Lyric Arts creative and technical team as well. There wasn’t a dull moment. From the opening scene of the villagers merrily dancing in front of Victor Frankenstein’s castle in Transylvania to the absolutely show-stopping Puttin’ on the Ritz number, Lyric Arts truly knocked it out of the spooky graveyard with this production.

Having just seen the majority of the cast in Rent this summer at Lyric Arts, it was truly impressive to see these actors totally disappear into their roles in Young Frankenstein. I didn’t see an ounce of Mark from Rent from Kyler Chase as he portrayed Fredrick Frankenstein, and his eyebrows may have well leapt off his face and become characters of their own. In fact, as I was watching the show, I heard an audience member behind me whisper “he even sounds like Gene Wilder.” High praise, indeed. Nykeigh Larson as Inga and Brendan Veerman as Igor (who I adored in Barefoot in the Park) were also highlights for me. But, the show was completely stolen when our Monster came to life in the form of Tom Goerger-who was not only amazing and hilarious, but also a dead ringer for Peter Boyle.

In nearly every review I write for Lyric Arts, I can’t help but praise the set design. And, again, the Young Frankenstein set was spectacular. The castle and hidden passageways, the cottage the set must be for a brief, hysterical scene, among other transitions-the grace and technical skill it takes to make these set changes so flawlessly and clever are beyond reproach.

Recalling Young Frankenstein as I am writing this, I am seeing the show in black and white. Trust me, it was full color when I saw it, and my vision is just fine, but I find it interesting that black and white, like the original film, is how I am seeing Lyric Arts production in my mind’s eye. It may be a trick of my subconscious, but I think it is further proof that the stage production is on par with the classic movie it is based on. Not that the Lyric Arts production of Young Frankenstein is a scene-for-scene re-enactment of the film, it truly is its own wonderful entity unto itself, but if you are going to be compared to a movie, let it be a Mel Brooks movie.

The audience couldn’t have asked for a better Halloween-season show from Lyric Arts, and I was so pleased to share the experience with Quinn, and help foster a new generation Young Frankenstein (and theater, and satire) fans.

Roxy Orcutt
Roxy Orcutt

Roxy Orcutt, The Halloween Honey, is a local author and theater enthusiast. Her book, "History and Hauntings of the Halloween Capital," explores Anoka, MN, its spooky tales, colorful characters, and why it is named the "Halloween Capital of the World." It is available for sale online at www.HalloweenHoney.com.

"Young Frankenstein" Audience Review - Gary Davis

By Gary Davis

         Gary Davis

         Gary Davis

Leave it to Lyric Arts Main Stage, in the heart of the Halloween Capital of the World, to produce this year’s best Halloween destination, in the form of Young Frankenstein, the musical.

I am not a big fan of turning popular movies into stage musicals but I have to admit this one hits the mark.  The score is very catchy and complements the libretto, rather than re-stating it, which sometimes happens in adapted musicals.  I had not heard the score before attending and found Igor and the Doctor’s duet “Together Again for the First Time” hilarious.  Dr. Frankenstein’s fiancée, Elizabeth, scores a homerun with her “Please Don’t Touch Me”, which includes one of the more interesting dance sequences I have seen in some time.

Director Matt McNabb and his production crew have turned loose a cast of 18 skilled and energetic performers that rock the house from the opening number to the final curtain call.

For fans of the 1974 hit movie, it’s all there:  the puns, the risqué humor, the fabulous character parts.  Add to that a raucous score, a tight ensemble, wonderful choreography, an imposing but versatile set and over 300 light and sound cues and you have a mahvelous evening at the theatre.

All I can say is Wow!  For one, Puttin’ on the Ritz is about 1,000 times better than in the movie.  Watching the Monster (Tom Georger) dancing in 4 inch platform boots with the rest of the cast tapping around him is one of the highlights of the evening.  If you like good, old-fashioned production tap numbers, you don’t want to miss this.

I hate singling out performances when a cast is so uniformly excellent, but here we go.  The leads in this show have done an excellent job of reminding us of the folks in the movie while still making these characters their own.  The trio of of Dr. Frankenstein (Kyler Chase), Inga (Nykeigh Larson), and Igor (Brendan Veerman) work together like a Swiss timepiece.

Kudos as well to Kate Beahen for her understated Frau Blucher (whinnee) and her excellent comedic timing.  Also to Brad Bone for his over the top blind Hermit and Nick Menzuber in the dual roles of Victor Von Frankenstein and Inspector Kemp.

This show was extremely challenging from a technical perspective and I want to recognize a few of them here.  Brian Proball’s set design, with its imposing Castle Frankenstein, sets the mood from the minute you walk in the door.  Choreographer Ann Marie Omeish met the challenge of several full ensemble dances in varying styles, culminated by the Puttin’ on the Ritz tap extravaganza.  That scene alone is worth the price of admission.

Jim Eischen (lights) and Jeff Geisler (sound) have teamed up to provide a seamless technical framework for the show.  Finally, Samantha Fromm Haddow and her crew:  thank you for the excellent costume plot.

Young Frankenstein plays through November 2.

Gary Davis is a local actor/director who is a big fan of theater.