One of history’s most beloved novels is coming to the Hippodrome State Theatre this October, and its task is simple: leave audiences with a new perspective on an old tale.
"All Girl Frankenstein" is based off of the novel by Mary Shelley and transformed by playwright Bob Fisher. What makes it unique? It’s in the name. "All Girl Frankenstein" has a cast purely composed of women. Actors Candace Clift, Jorgia McAfee and Marissa Toogood all play male characters in the show.
"‘All Girl Frankenstein’ is based on the classic story, but our story is Frankenstein like you’ve never seen before," said Sarah Darden, the director of marketing and communications at the Hippodrome.
The play has a discounted preview at 8 p.m. tonight and officially premieres at 8 p.m. Friday, with shows throughout Nov. 8. The play runs Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
The mission at the Hippodrome is to create an artistic home for both actors and audience members. With the Halloween special "All Girl Frankenstein," this creative, contemporary ideal is achieved with an energetic cast and a director who isn’t afraid to shake things up.
"It’s not going to be anything you think it’s going to be," said 25-year-old Toogood, who plays the youngest Frankenstein — William. "If you think that you understand what you’re walking into, then think again."
Toogood is referring to the preconceived notions that some audience members may have on opening night.
Walking into a play that contains the word Frankenstein, attendees may assume there will be gore and guts, but in reality, the show veers away and takes on a new direction. There are underlying themes of sexuality and complex family dynamics that will change the way a person thinks after he or she sees it for the first time.
There is an atmosphere between the cast members and director that brings months of preparation together into a piece that is unique and entertaining.
A lot of energy is required to become a different character, and the cast of "All Girl Frankenstein" takes that energy to a level that encompasses the theatre space and leaves a lasting impression on audience members.
Toogood’s character allowed her to tap into her inner child and rediscover that time of her life in a challenging and fun way.
The UF graduate said being a part of the Hippodrome’s company has been a blessing, and the roles she’s played so far have taken her on different journeys.
As for her role as William Frankenstein, her toughest task was whistling.
"I’ve never been a fantastic whistler," Toogood said. "It was something I had to throw myself into."
The cast was able transform pre-existing characters into something distinctive, with subtle themes of modern entertainment.
During a press run put on for local websites and newspapers, the actors performed the play with passion and zeal like it was opening night.
Even without the full effects of costumes and makeup, the quaint theatre was transformed into something that took spectators on a voyage into the action as it was happening. The actors provoked emotions of humor, excitement and despair.
"They will bring out fear, sadness, suspense," Darden said in reference to the cast.
The range of characters and actors is vast. A variety of UF theatre students and veteran professional actors will grace the stage of the Hippodrome for the show.
Toogood said the collection of different perspectives was something that kept things fresh throughout the entire process.
"They make it feel like family," she said. "There is so much love and passion in that building that it’s filling to the brim."
The play breathes new life into a story that is often called the first science fiction novel. There is a mixture of both traditional and modern elements intertwined into a piece that aims to entertain and leave audiences with a lasting impression.
"The best plays haunt you," Darden said, "and ‘All Girl Frankenstein’ will haunt your dreams."