Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

November 1, 2009

Piecemeal - The Frankenstein Musical

Majestic Theater, West Spingfield, MA
through December 6, 2009
by Shera Cohen

"Piecemeal" has taken a known entity - the story of Frankenstein - and created a humorous, loveable, musical prequel. The Majestic presents local playwright Howard Odentz's version of how Dr. F., Igor, the Monster, et al came to be. Not only did Odentz write the play, he composed the music. Perhaps one of this young man's best talents is his sense of humor with lyrics.

The set is dark with a brick-like haunted house center stage. Dry ice flows thick, bolts of lighting appear. The staging is exactly what it should be, complete with graveyard, damsel in the belfry, and the very important "lab-or-a-tory." Period costumes and coifs, eerie sounds, and body parts strewn about add to the expected macabre tone. Accents are British, but sometimes hard to understand by audience members.

However, most of the major elements are unexpected, which makes "Piecemeal" a pleasure to see. This is not an overdone plot, but one that takes twists and turns from opening number to finale. The main characters are not what audience members would expect either. The focus is on Igor (remember Marty Feldman's "walk this way") as a child who becomes an adult. What a horrible life he has, yet he has dreams that he pursues. He's a Gothic "Rocky," and we root for him. Nick Gilfor (young Igor) is so precious, and Scott Zenreich (adult Igor) is an excellent actor who can also sing well. As if there isn't enough going on, toss in a love story as well a few stuffed animals.

Music abounds throughout, with nearly every song carrying the plot forward. While the story and set bring to mind images of "Oliver" meets "Sweeney Todd," the score moves from honky tonk to 50s doowop to soulful melodic ballads. The cast includes many with skilled, trained voices; i.e. Luis Manzi, Frank Aronson, Laura Lites, and R. Steve Pierce. This is Pierce's first time at the Majestic. His demeanor, voice, and movement create his stylish fop character. "I Love to Sew" is a showstopper. Zenreich and Lite's dramatic and tender duet brings romance into Act II. And Zenreich's "Choices" replicates "Rocky's" run up the steps.

Most of all "Piecemeal" is very funny. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein would burst his stitches enjoying this new musical.