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Frankenstein's creature takes over high school stage

Dr. Victor Frankenstein (Austin Knott, left) and his assistant, Gorgo (Lexi Norvet) examine the brain they will use for The Creature. Jen Cullen photo1 / 3
Elizabeth (Ashley Peddie), who is engaged to Dr. Frankenstein, is concerned about his experiment. Jen Cullen photo2 / 3
The Creature (Brianna Crosby) is about to see its face for the first time in a scene from the Red Wing High School production of "Frankenstein." Jen Cullen photo3 / 3

What: "Frankenstein"

Where: Red Wing High School

When: 7 p.m. Thursday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday

"Frankenstein" is more than the story of a man-made monster.

In addition to The Creature, the play also has some intriguing personalities whose lives are intertwined with it -- including the man with a God complex who creates the monster.

Red Wing High School students are staging the classic horror story Thursday, Saturday and Sunday in the Little Theatre at the high school. "Frankenstein" will be performed at 7 p.m. except for the Sunday performance, which is a 2 p.m. matinee.

Austin Knott, who made his acting debut in last year's "Arsenic and Old Lace," is Dr. Victor Frankenstein.

"I almost hoped to get the monster's role" when he auditioned for director/drama teacher Jillynne Raymond, said Knott, a senior.

He's a large person, Knott pointed out. "I can do grizzly. I can do lumbering around the stage leaving destruction in my wake."

@Sub Heads:Obsessed

@Normal1: Being cast as the doctor -- the main character -- was exciting, he said.

"The play is about his obsession with the life he's creating, but through that obsession he's destroying his own life," Knott explained -- "and the lives of those around him."

"We're supposed to get married," pointed out Ashley Peddie, who is cast as Elizabeth, the doctor's fiance, "but the experiment has taken him over. He has no time for a personal life."

Her character is something of a contradiction, Peddie said. The script describes her as a strong, independent type of woman. "But she faints constantly in this play," Peddie said. "She can be very assertive at times," Knott injected.

Elizabeth is the biggest role she's played, said Peddie, also a senior. She's been in all the theater productions for the past three years except this year's fall play.

"I'm working it," Peddie said of her portrayal of Elizabeth as "a typical damsel in distress. ... I'm not like that at all," so the role requires her to hold back her natural tendencies.

"I'm definitely having fun with it," Knott said. "He's a very interesting character" -- a man who is wealthy and educated, yet will stop at nothing to achieve his goal of "breaking free from mankind's boundaries. He wants to transcend man and become God."

@Sub Heads:Graduating seniors

@Normal1: Being part of the theater crew also is fun for the actors and others involved with the production, especially the seniors.

"It's probably my last show in here," said Dylan Lee, leader of the sound team who has been working behind the scenes in every show since his sophomore year. He prefers "the lonely tech life" to acting, he joked.

"I'm almost dreading the musical," Lee said, since that production, put on by the high school students at the Sheldon Theatre in May, will be the last for him, too.

"Even if I do community theater, it's not the same," added Lee, who has helped out with four Phoenix Theatre winter shows.

Fred Carmichael's adaptation of "Frankenstein," which is set in a small village in 1930, gave Lee an opportunity to get creative with sound.

"The music for this was fun to do," he said. He listened to a lot of classical music on CDs, You Tube and other sources and picked sounds that had dark overtones and some chaotic elements, Lee explained.

"It sets the tone, sets the scene, and matches the time period," Peddie said.

Backstage crews also took on a major task with the construction of the laboratory set, Raymond said. A team of more than a dozen students built the set under the leadership of Ryan Schmidt.

"I had him in class in middle school," Raymond said, and helped involve him in set construction back then. Schmidt, a 2005 Red Wing High School graduate, has continued working on sets, she said, including projects at the Sheldon Theatre.

"When he heard about 'Frankenstein,' he came and offered to help," Raymond said.

Tickets are $2 for adults, $1 for students. They'll be sold at the door.