Jul. 19, 2023 By Ethan Marshall
The Queens-based JC Players community theater group will be performing a series of live shows of the play “Young Frankenstein” throughout the month of August. The play is based on the popular 1974 Mel Brooks film of the same name.
Since being formed in 1995, JC Players have been putting on performances of various plays and musicals throughout the summer months. After postponing shows in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the group returned in 2022 with performances of “Seussical: The Musical.”
The five performances will be split across two locations. On Friday, Aug. 4, Saturday, Aug. 5 and Sunday, Aug. 6, the show will be performed at the Glendale-Maspeth United Methodist Church. On Saturday, Aug. 12, and Sunday, Aug. 13, the performances will be at the Community United Methodist Church. The shows on Aug. 4, 5 and 12 are scheduled for 8 p.m., while the Aug. 6 and 13 shows are scheduled to start at 3 p.m.
The crew and leadership team for this production includes Barbara Auriemma as the director, Frank Auriemma as the musical director, Christine Hinz as the choreographer, Julia Marshall as the stage manager and Amy Ellis as the costumer. Andres Luke Caamal will be starring in the series of plays as Dr. Frederick Frankenstein.
According to Auriemma, the decision to perform “Young Frankenstein” came about because JC Players was interested in doing a show different from what they usually perform.
“We wanted to do something very light and funny and musical,” Auriemma said. “Something that would appeal to a large audience. We also decided to prove that we can do almost any kind of musical in a black box (a simple performance space). On Broadway, Young Frankenstein was done with a lot of special effects and fancy props. We can be just as entertaining on a smaller scale.”
Prior to joining JC Players as a director in 1996, Auriemma had a long track record of experience as a director for other community theaters and college productions. She noted that JC Players began expanding its footprint across Queens within five or six years after its founding, with audition notices being posted to attract more actors to the group.
“We’ve definitely grown since [JC Players’ founding],” Auriemma said. “I’ve grown as a director. I do my best to put on the best possible production that we can. I’m working with a group of such talented people.”
Auriemma has earned the admiration and respect of her colleagues, including Caamal, who spoke highly of her. Caamal said she’s been very effective at helping to break the script down for the actors, better simplifying it for them.
Caamal joined JC Players in 2019 after being introduced to them by a friend who was in the cast for their then-upcoming production of “Beauty and the Beast.” He decided to audition for a role and ended up being cast as Lumiere.
“[Production] for ‘Young Frankenstein’ has been quite a doozy,” Caamal said. “It’s been a lot of fun, but it’s also been a lot of work. I feel very confident in myself to play this role [of Dr. Frederick Frankenstein] well. I’m just hoping all the blood, sweat and tears pay off. Everyone’s very kind, nice and accommodating.”
While Caamal said he wasn’t initially too familiar with “Young Frankenstein,” his interest really piqued after learning that one of his favorite actors, Roger Bart, had played Dr. Frankenstein in the Broadway production. This, along with listening to his performance, inspired Caamal to try out for that role.
The Glendale-Maspeth United Methodist Church is located at 66-14 Central Ave. in Glendale. The Community United Methodist Church can be found at 75-27 Metropolitan Ave. in Middle Village.
Tickets for the shows are currently on sale on the JC Players’ website, jcplayers.com, or by calling 917-647-7526. Children under the age of 12 and seniors at least 65 years of age can purchase tickets for $20. Tickets for adults are available for $22.