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Playwright sees sense in Roseanne-Frankenstein mashup

Richard AndersJodi McGrath star “Roseannkenstein” GorillTango Theatre Skokie.

Richard Anderson and Jodi McGrath star in “Roseannkenstein” at Gorilla Tango Theatre Skokie.

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‘Roseannkenstein: The Ballad of Roseanne, As Told by
Frankenstein’s Monster’

♦ 7:30 p.m. Oct. 19, 20, 26 and 27
♦ Gorilla Tango’s Skokie Theatre, 7924 N. Lincoln Ave., Skokie

♦ Tickets, $15

♦ (773) 598- 4549;

Updated: October 17, 2012 5:50PM

Some things just naturally go together: apple pie and ice cream, thunder and lightning, Frankenstein’s monster and . . . “Roseanne”?

Well, playwright Seth Wanta thinks so, and so do the folks at Gorilla Tango Theatre in Skokie, where the debut production of “Roseannkenstein” opens Oct. 19 to set the mood for Halloween.

As a kid growing up in Wisconsin, Wanta said two of his favorite things in life were the classic Boris Karloff version of “Frankenstein” and the 1980s sitcom “Roseanne.” And since Halloween happens to be his favorite holiday, he thought it would be fun to mash them all together when he heard Gorilla Tango was soliciting show ideas.

“I thought I’d come up with something totally ridiculous and off the wall to see what they think,” said Wanta, 24, who considers himself an actor, primarily, and moved to Chicago for the theater scene after graduating from St. Norbert College. “I’d been thinking there were some weird parallels between how people viewed the Frankenstein monster and the way Roseanne was perceived when she was doing her sitcom. So I proposed doing a show in which those two characters traded places, like in ‘Freaky Friday.’ ”

“[Gorilla Tango] loved the idea, which was great,” he added with a laugh. “But then I had to write it.”

While performing with groups such as Chicago’s Corn Productions, Wanta has created short comic sketches, but this is his first full-length script. For inspiration, he thought back to one of the things he liked best about “Roseanne”—the series’ annual Halloween episodes.

“Roseannkenstein” essentially plays like an extended “Roseanne” Halloween show with Roseanne Conner (Charlie Irving) and her husband Dan (Kevin O’Connell) suiting up for the scary festivities. The only major difference is that a somewhat twisted revision of Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein” is also taking place on stage, leading to the moment when the main characters swap places.

Wanta noted that only one thing could make the show more fun for him personally — if Roseanne Barr herself showed up for the opening night performance.

“I’ve sent some tweets inviting her, but I haven’t heard anything,” he said. “Nothing would make me happier though. I’m not being facetious or ironic when I say I really do love that show — and her personally. I think she’s great. And I like to think she’d enjoy what we’re doing.”

Bruce Ingram is a local free-lance writer.

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