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Thin Air Theatre Company will return to the Butte Theater in Cripple Creek. They were the in-house professional company from 2007 to 2017.

Mel Brooks and Mary Shelley seem unlikely writing partners, but in a sense, they were.

The English author Shelley came first, of course, with her 1818 classic horror novel “Frankenstein,” about Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who brings his science experiment to life. Brooks followed up a century and a half later with his 1974 cult classic comedy spoof “Young Frankenstein,” starring Gene Wilder, and later his 2007 musical of the same name.

Thin Air Theatre Company will mount a production of “Young Frankenstein” at The Butte Theater in Cripple Creek Friday through Oct. 30.

“When Mel Brooks started working on it, he said he remembered the 1930s universal horror films, the black-and-white ones,” said Thin Air’s Artistic Producing Director Chris Armbrister, who is also directing the musical. “He was scared to death as a kid of those. He wanted to do something as a tribute and also a sendup of those.”

In the film and musical, the American grandson of the famous scientist is invited to Transylvania, where he discovers how to bring a dead body back to life and hopes to prove his grandfather wasn’t as erratic as people believed.

New York-based actor Matt Paris stars as Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, his second time in the role and his second time performing with Thin Air. He was last seen in last year’s “A Cripple Creek Christmas Carol.”

“There are so many iconic lines,” Paris said. “It’s a rich cultural touchstone. So many people know and can quote the movie.”

One of his character’s favorite lines? When somebody knocks at the door: “And he says, ‘What knockers?’ And a girl next to him says, ‘Thank you.’ And the doctor says, ‘Don’t mention it.’”

The 13-person cast comes from around the U.S., including Colorado, though nobody local to Cripple Creek. Armbrister, who’s from Virginia, lives in Teller County from May through December and helps shape Thin Air’s seasons.

“Because of its tongue-in-cheek natur, it was perfect for The Butte Theater audience,” he said. “It’s not a melodrama, but you’ve got the campiness that comes from melodrama and you can make a direct connection to the audience. They can get involved in it and have a lot of fun.”

In its original incarnation, The Butte was The Imperial Hotel, where the Mackin family produced an annual summer melodrama beginning in 1947. When Thin Air accepted the city of Cripple Creek’s invitation to be the theater’s resident professional company more than a decade ago, the group requested it be able to produce a full season of shows from June through December, including classic Victorian melodramas, musicals, contemporary comedies and mysteries and original work.

“Thin Air always does a melodrama every year,” Armbrister said.

“We try to do what the theater is known for.”

Contact the writer: 636-0270

Contact the writer: 636-0270

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