PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF TODD ROSENBERG
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF TODD ROSENBERG
When Mary Shelley published her novel about a young scientist named Victor Frankenstein in 1818, she had been traveling through Europe hearing stories about alchemists conducting bizarre science experiments. It is believed her work, titled Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, was the product of a contest with future husband Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron to see who could write the best horror story.
It has since become a pop culture classic, with subsequent adaptations to numerous mediums and pop culture tropes that have stood the test of time.
And on October 12, The Joffrey Ballet will open its 68th season with the highly anticipated Chicago premiere of Liam Scarlett’s critically acclaimed interpretation of this gothic masterpiece.
Set in the dawn of modern science, Scarlett’s production of the 19th-century science fiction novel is a visceral, profoundly emotional tale of life, death, love, and identity.
With an original sweeping score by Lowell Liebermann and immersed within the striking stage design by world-renowned artist of premiere ballets and operas John Macfarlane, this ambitious production of Frankenstein at the historic Lyric Opera House features sensational choreography, costumes, and special effects.
One of the most innovative works of dance today, this must-see Chicago premiere runs for ten performances only through October 22.
Frankenstein is a captivating journey through scientist Victor Frankenstein’s ambitious plan to animate a patchwork of lifeless body parts, setting in motion a detrimental chain of fateful events.
John Mcfarlane’s cinematic design transports audiences to Shelley’s era with stunning period-piece costumes set in a dramatically lit, circular anatomy theater, combined with electrifying pyrotechnics and expertly rendered special effects makeup that transform previous notions of horror into an allegory of the human condition.
Scarlett’s virtuosic choreography and Liebermann’s theatrical score come together to capture the existential conditions of a burgeoning modern society, with its associated feelings of otherness and desire for acceptance in a rapidly changing world.
“The Chicago premiere of Liam Scarlett’s Frankenstein is storytelling at the grandest scale, but with delicate emotion rendered in fine detail,” says The Mary B. Galvin Artistic Director Ashley Wheater MBE. “Frankenstein suggests that otherness— and subsequent acceptance of the darkest parts of ourselves—is part of the human experience. We honor the memory of Scarlett, whose artistry in reimagining of Shelley’s epic story takes form through the movement of the Joffrey’s electrifying dancers, a pulsating original score, and a fascinating set design.”
Frankenstein is a co-production of London’s Royal Ballet and the San Francisco Ballet. Scarlett’s production received its premiere to critical acclaim at the Royal Opera House in 2016, followed by its North American premiere in 2017. The Chicago premiere next week features live music performed by the Lyric Opera Orchestra, conducted by Scott Speck, Music Director of The Joffrey Ballet.
“As we embark on our 68th season at the Joffrey, we are propelled by an unyielding commitment to artistic exploration. Under the visionary leadership of Ashley Wheater, we have the privilege of sharing Liam Scarlett’s masterwork of Frankenstein with Chicago,” adds President and CEO Greg Cameron. “Today, this creative ambition extends past the stage into all aspects of our organization. From nurturing the next generation of dancers in the Joffrey Academy, sharing dance throughout Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods with our Community Engagement programs, to our newly renovated facilities fostering a thriving environment across all of our departments, the Joffrey’s impact in the arts resonates within every corner of our city.”
Frankenstein will run for 10 performances Thursday through Sunday, October 12 to 22. Single tickets start at $36 and are available for purchase at Lyric Opera Box Office, 20 N. Upper Wacker Drive, in Chicago. For times and more information, call 312-386-8905 or visit joffrey.org.