"It's FRAHN-ken-steen": Brian D'Arcy James Nabs Lead Role in Young Frankenstein Workshop

By Robert Simonson
18 Oct 2006

Brian d'Arcy James
Brian d'Arcy James
Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Brian d'Arcy James and Kristin Chenoweth will be spending a lot of time together in the next few months.

The two actors—co-stars in the upcoming Roundabout Theatre Company revival of The Apple Tree—have also been cast opposite each other in an upcoming workshop of Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan's long-awaited musicalization of the 1974 film "Young Frankenstein."

The New York Post reported that James will play the title role of Dr. Frankenstein, the unwittingly mad scientist who creates a monster out of a reaminated corpse. Chenoweth will play Elizabeth, the good doctor's chilly fiance.

James has played leads in the musicals Titanic, Sweet Smell of Success and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.



As previously reported Sutton Foster will play Inga, the role created by Teri Garr; Tarzan star Shuler Hensley will be the Monster; Thoroughly Modern Millie actor Marc Kudisch is the police inspector who suspects Dr. Frankenstein; Cloris Leachman will re-create the role of horse-frightening Frau Blucher; and Roger Bart as the hunchback Igor (pronounced "EYE-gore").

Susan Stroman, who guided Brooks and Meehan's The Producers to success, will direct.

The Post previously reported that the show will likely open in Chicago in summer 2007 and then arrive on Broadway in the fall. Previously, Seattle was mentioned as a possible 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, this number will be retained in the legitimate adaptation (the Berlin estate OKed 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).