Just call him Dr. Franken-steen


For Eric Bailey, it’s a great “Mom memory.” He first saw the movie version of “Young Frankenstein” with her at the Visalia Fox Theatre.

“I don’t recall how old I was at the time, but I do remember that it later became a regular rental for any of the birthday parties or sleepovers that my friends and I had,” he says.

Dr. Frankenstein, played by Eric Bailey, standing on stage with top hat and cane.

All dressed up: Eric Bailey plays Dr. Frankenstein in “Young Frankenstein” at the Reedley Opera House. Photo / River City Theatre Company

Little did he know that decades later he’d be playing Dr. Frankenstein in a musical version of the play. The River City Theatre Company production opens Friday, June 30, at the Reedley Opera House.

I caught up via email with Bailey to talk about the show. Oh, and how’s this for a nice touch? His mom (and dad) will be there Saturday night to see him in the show.

Q: First and most important question: Speaking as yourself and not your character, do you pronounce it Dr. Franken-steen or Dr. Franken-stine?


A: I tend to go with Franken-steen. But I do have to admit, I like it when Igor calls him Master.

Q: For those who aren’t familiar with the plot, give us a brief synopsis.

A: Frederick Frankensteen, ancestor to Victor Frankenstein, reluctantly travels back to the old country to settle his family affairs. Upon his arrival he is unwillingly pulled into the “family business” by such characters as Igor (loyal, but not the brightest of servants), Inga (the beautiful lab assistant), and Frau Blucher (housekeeper and guardian to the late Victor’s secrets). What comes next is a loony and chaotic tale. Who knows? You may even get to see the monster dance!

“Young Frankenstein,” through July 30, Reedley Opera House, 1720 10th St, Reedley. $19-$49.50.

Q: Tell us a little about what kind of guy Dr. Frankenstein is. Do you think you’d be friends with him if, say, he moved next door?

A: Well, I think Frederick is a little uptight at times, and might possibly have some family issues. But quirky people keep life interesting. But all in all, I think he would be an O.K. neighbor as long as his experiments don’t go on too late. I do get up fairly early for work, you know.

Q: Have you ever considered yodeling an attractive characteristic in a woman? How well does your wife yodel on a scale of 1 to 10?

A: Can’t say that I’ve ever been smitten by a woman who can yodel. As for my wife Sarah yodeling, I guess I might have to ask her to give it a shot. I’ll get back to you on that score.

Q: Did you have an aptitude in school for science?

A: No, Science was not a strong point in school for me. Although, I do enjoy science fiction.


What a pair: Dr. Frankenstein (Eric Bailey, left) and Igor (Joseph Ham) in “Young Frankenstein.” Photo / River City Theatre Company

Q: You were a member of the Good Company Players Junior Company. What was that experience like for you? Do you remember a standout moment?

A: Being a Junior Company member was a real joy for me. Being able to get up on stage with other teenagers who loved performing and working hard to put on a great show was very fulfilling. I did, however, have a little bit of a commute to do the shows. My parents drove from Orange Cove to the Tower District, about two hours round trip, plus the sitting in the parking lot while the show was on. It really was a family love and commitment to theater. As for a standout moment, I believe it was a national convention for the Rotary Club, being held in Fresno. I was singing the Billy Joel song “She’s Got a Way About Her” and received a standing ovation from several hundred people at the age of 14. That’s a little hard to forget.

Q: Tell us just a little about the Reedley “Young Frankenstein” production. Who’s directing? What is the hardest effect or scene to pull off?

A: Young Frankenstein is directed by Steve Jones and music director is Tidy Gill. So far the hardest aspect about the show has been working with the bigger prop pieces, as the stage area is fairly small. But it is amazing how they can make things work.

Q: You own a farm in Orange Cove. Do you bring oranges for the cast?

A: I have not brought any oranges yet. One of the other cast members also has a family farm. So he’s been taking care of everyone. Funny thing is I don’t eat oranges, and if I have orange juice it has to be pulp free.

Q: Give us three reasons to see “Young Frankenstein.”

A: It’s Mel Brooks!

The larger than life characters and the comedy and chaos that follow them.

We have a great cast who all love the show, and we would love to share it.

Q: Skipping all the usual concerns about the ethics and morality of creating a human life, what would be the coolest thing about having a tall and frightening looking creature at your bidding?

A: Well, he could do all the yard work for me, and he would make a great guard dog at nights, when we have people misbehaving and messing around in our fields.

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Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

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