Chenoweth, Hensley, Kudisch to Star in October Workshop of Young Frankenstein

By Robert Simonson
06 Sep 2006

Kristin Chenoweth
Kristin Chenoweth
Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan have finally finished the first draft of their long-awaited musicalization of the 1974 film "Young Frankenstein."

Susan Stroman, who guided Brooks and Meehan's The Producers to success, will direct an October reading of the new musical, the New York Post reported.

Kristin Chenoweth, according to her spokesperson, will play the role created by the late Madeline Kahn. She'll be joined by Tarzan star Shuler Hensley as the Monster and Thorough Modern Millie actor Marc Kudisch as a police inspector who suspects Dr. Frankenstein. The role of the doctor has not been cast.

The Post also said that Brooks wants Cloris Leachman to re-create the role of horse-frightening Frau Blucher. A Brooks movie veteran, she played the part in the movie.



As previously reported, Seattle may be the launch town for the show. Brooks and Meehan have been laboring on the script since early 2003.

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The film starred Gene Wilder as a descendant of Dr. Frankenstein who goes to Eastern Europe and takes up his ancestor's hobbies, and Peter Boyle as the monster he creates. It was one of Brooks' most successful comedies, and, to many film critics, his most consistent and polished work. The movie, a parody of the classic horror films of the 1930s, was made in black and white and featured a famously hilarious scene in which the Frankenstein monster is presented to the public in top hat and tails, performing Irving Berlin's "Puttin' on the Ritz." Just as the stage version of The Producers kept the song "Springtime for Hitler" from the original film, one imagines this number would be retained in any legitimate adaptation (if the Berlin estate OKs it).

Among the story's other characters are the doctor's fiancee (played in the movie by Madeline Kahn), who goes from a prissy virgin to a rapacious vixen with a Bride of Frankenstein hairdo; a comical hunchback (Marty Feldman), who insists on being called "Eye-gor"; a comely fräulein the doctor takes as his mistress (Garr); Frau Blücher (Cloris Leachman), a woman so frightening the mention of her name causes horses to rear up; and the rabble-rousing, speech-mangling Police Inspector Hans Wilhelm Friederich Kemp (Kenneth Mars).