Drew Sarich Is Victor Frankenstein in NYC Reading of Tour-Aimed Musical

News   Drew Sarich Is Victor Frankenstein in NYC Reading of Tour-Aimed Musical
 
Frankenstein, the new musical theatre experience that will tour in 2007-08, continues its development in rehearsals toward private industry readings scheduled for the week of Dec. 18 in Manhattan.

Drew Sarich, of Broadway's current Les Misérables and the late Lestat, has been cast at Victor Frankenstein in the reading, opposite Ron Bohmer as the Creature. Bohmer repeats his work from a test presentation that played New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark in October 2006.

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The famed creature first created by novelist Mary Shelley in 1818 will be unearthed once more for a new musical theatre experience that will tour starting in fall 2007.

Producers Gerald A. Goehring and Douglas C. Evans announced they will bring Frankenstein to stage life, with Broadway's Ron Bohmer (The Woman in White, The Scarlet Pimpernel) expected to play the brutish Creature, for a tour aiming at 20-40 weeks in the 2007-08 season.

Casting — including finding someone to star as scientist Victor Frankenstein, who famously resurrects a cadaver — is ongoing, and the launch date has not been announced. Billed as a "bold new theatrical experience" rather than "a musical," the song-rich show, told in flashback, has music by Mark Baron, and text and lyrics by Gary P. Cohen and Jeffrey Jackson. A recording of an earlier version of the score (seen in a New Jersey regional theatre production) is on sale at amazon.com (Tony winner Shuler Hensley is on the disc).

Bill Fennelly, recently named producing artistic director of the Actor's Express in Atlanta, and a resident director of The Lion King on tour, directs Frankenstein.

Visual and projection design will be by Guy St-Amour, a founding member of Cirque du Soleil.

Producer Evans told Playbill.com that he became aware of the developing property (then called Frankenstein - The Musical) about four years ago, when the project was a more traditional book musical. The mix of moral issues, passion and love — the love between fathers and sons, primarily — "sung" to the producers.

Frankenstein does not want to be camp or parody, Evans cautioned, but a faithful distillation of the passions and ideas of the novel, "Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus," about a doctor who brings a corpse back to life — and the mayhem that follows. The 1818 novel was revised and later released in an 1831 version.

Evans said, "When you see the last scene, and you see the interaction between these two men — essentially, a father and a son — it rips your heart out. For a musical that runs just about two hours and 10 minutes with intermission, it's sweepingly heavy and intense. The words that we use are 'epic' and 'sweeping.'"

Discussions between the writers and new producers resulted in this latest version, seen in three enthusiastically-received workshop performances at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center Sept. 29-Oct. 1, 2006. Davis Gaines played Victor Frankenstein and Ron Bohmer was The Creature. Fennelly directed.

A listen to the lush, searching score suggests the show is in the same family as the popular The Phantom of the Opera and Jekyll & Hyde — musicals also drawn from 19th century gothic suspense novels with science-fiction or fantastic elements.

A cast of 13 actors (12 adults and one child, to play Victor's brother William) and an orchestra of 11 are expected for the show. The settings move around the world, from the Arctic to Europe, mirroring the action of the novel.

Don't expect an ugly, scarred monster of the past Hollywood movies or past theatre versions. The creature is a recently hanged man, not a 10-feet-tall, bolt-neck behemoth. His human scale makes the story more moving, Evans suggested.

More information on the new production is available at www.frankensteinontour.com.

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Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein, The Modern Prometheus" has inspired not a few stage versions and musical versions. Some examples:

  • Mel Brooks is currently working on a stage musical version of his film comedy "Young Frankenstein," reportedly aiming for Broadway in 2007-08.
  • Frank Wildhorn is working on a stage musical of the tale that incorporates Mary Shelley as a character.
  • In 1980-81, a special-effects-packed non-musical, Frankenstein, by Victor Gialanella, was, at the time, the most expensive production ever on Broadway. The flop won a Drama Desk Award for its potent lighting design.
  • In 2001, Prometheus Dreams, a musical exploration of the material, with music by Sean Michael Flowers and book and lyrics by Patrick Vaughn, was presented by The Human Race Theatre Company in Dayton, OH.
  • Frankenstein, the Musical, with book, music and lyrics by Robert Mitchell, played Off-Off-Broadway's Wings Theatre in 2006.
  • A show called Frankenstein…do you dream? appeared as part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival in 2004, after beginning life in Canada.
  • Have I Got a Girl for You! The Frankenstein Musical had an Off-Broadway run in 1986.
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