‘Frankenstein on the Air’ should become a new tradition

By Rachelle Hughes

Iron County Today

The world needs more Halloween theatre like Peter Sham’s new “Frankenstein on the Air” that premiered October 27-28 at the Heritage Center Theater as part of the Neil Simon Festival’s 2017 productions.

“We’ll scare the heck right out of you,” Scare-o-lettes Samantha Allred, Tammi Colombo, and Olivia Sham sing to a “studio audience” in vintage Golden Era radio style as they open this Halloween entertainment that has all the elements of a good old fashioned radio broadcast.

“Frankenstein On The Air” may not “scare the heck right out of you” but it did bring laughter, campiness, surprise, drama and even some chilling moments as an “all star Cedar City cast” took to the stage to entertain an audience that was looking for some Halloween fun. The cast itself was part of the amazing success of this premiere. There is something so delightful about seeing community talent strut their acting stuff on the stage.

The production stars fictional Utah Congressman Weaver Cleaver as The Monster—played by veteran performer Steve Meredith and Brandon Burk (also seen at the Utah Shakespeare Festival this past season) as Victor Frankenstein. Meredith’s deep rumbling voice was a perfect fit for The Monster. Radio broadcasts of the past would have clamored for his talent on air. Burk’s melancholy and tortured Frankenstein was also a master story teller. The cast also features Peter Sham and Richard Bugg along with Cedar celebrities Ellen Treanor, Lawrence Johnson, Kyle Bishop, Keith Bradshaw, Matt Nickerson, Todd Peterson, Ron Pisaturo, Ryan McLean, and TJ and Wendy Penrod. Pisaturo as the reporter turned zombie, Treanor as a crusty reporter and Wendy Penrod as Chiffon Baker all had the audience in stitches.

A sequel, of sorts, to Peter Sham and Brad Carroll’s regionally popular “A Christmas Carol On the Air,” “Frankenstein On the Air” is written and adapted by Peter Sham from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Orson Welles’ radio play “War of the Worlds” by H.G.Wells. Characters from the original “A Christmas Carol On the Air” make a comeback in this all new radio broadcast that includes a radio play, sci-fi alien invasion newscast scare, a cooking show, a quiz show and even a word from the sponsors sung in clever jingles by three Scare-O-lettes.

While the Frankenstein reading or play has its chilling moments, the play also pays homage to other Halloween, creepy paranormal stories including a nod to Edgar Allen Poe, “Little Shop of Horrors,” zombies, “The Walking Dead,” and more. There is more silliness than scariness in this play but it certainly entertains in a clever mashup of monsters, music, pumpkins and aliens, zombies and a little gushing blood that embraces Halloween culture.

Here is hoping it becomes an annual Halloween favorite, much like its Christmas counterpart “A Christmas Carol On the Air.”

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