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Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is re-imagined as a dark, passionate musical set in the near future, complete with anticipation of future technology and unrequited love. Vicky is a promising neuroscience graduate student whose pursuit of a new invention leads her down a dark path after her friend is in a serious accident.

 

Original music and lyrics by Chris Rentzel are complemented by the writings of Gayle Towell in this musical-in-progress.

 

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In an age when our technological future is uncertain, and advances occur ever rapidly, it leaves a person to wonder how different life might be even a few years from now. We possess the ability to map brain development in extreme detail and even restore walking in paralyzed patients via electrical implants. The rise in companies such as Neuralink promise brain-machine interfaces while ever-growing concern mounts about what might happen once computers become truly intelligent.

 

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was also set during an era of rapid changes in technology and understanding of science. In the 18th century hypnotism, electricity, magnetism, evolution, and the development of more scientifically founded medical practices captured imaginations. Ideas about the possibility of electricity having a role in living bodies made the notion of reanimating a corpse with an electric current seem possible, if not horrifying. 


In disconnected: a frankenstein musical we aim to be true to many of the timeless themes of Mary Shelley’s original work, including science and discovery, misguided ambition, nature and romanticism, isolation, unrequited love, and fear of monstrosity. Many of the characters in the musical are directly analogous to characters in Shelley’s work, but with one twist: most of the genders have been flipped. This is in homage to Mary Shelley, a woman who wrote a horror story in a time when women weren’t supposed to write horror stories, her leading characters all but forced to be male because women were also not supposed to be scientists and scholars. We have also employed a similar “nested” storytelling format to the work as well, allowing us to emphasize parallel themes in the lives of different characters.

 

—Gayle Towell

Gayle Towell (book writer) is an award-winning writer of short stories, books, and plays, and is the editor of Microfiction Monday Magazine. A native Oregonian, she lives outside of Portland with her husband and three children, and teaches college physics and astronomy. She’s very excited to be collaborating with Chris on this project, and is hopeful for great things to come!

Chris Rentzel (composer, lyricist) has written several short musicals, written and produced a feature film, and currently volunteers for a local high school theatre department in his spare time. He’s thrilled to work with Gayle and all the talented cast and crew. He looks forward to the next two years to see how far we can take this work!

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© 2018 by Chris Rentzel & Gayle Towell.