By Kenneth Jones
23 Aug 2007
|Photo by Paul Kolnik|
The pre-Broadway tryout of the new show, with songs by Brooks and libretto by Brooks and Meehan, began previews at Seattle's Paramount Theatre Aug. 7.
Brooks is hoping that lightning will strike twice with Young Frankenstein — the second time he's adapted one of his film comedies for the musical stage. The creator of the smash musical, The Producers, has been in Seattle for his new show's launch.
Young Frankenstein is inspired by Brooks' black-and-white 1974 film comedy, which itself was inspired by Hollywood's black-and-white "Frankenstein" pics of the 1930s.
Young Frankenstein the musical relies on the same team that turned The Producers into a critical and box-office smashzilla in 2001. It won the most Tonys in the history of the award — 12.
The world-premiere engagement of Young Frankenstein runs through Sept. 1 in Seattle prior to an Oct. 11 first preview at Broadway's Hilton Theatre — one of Broadway's largest houses.
Robert F.X. Sillerman and Mel Brooks are producing the musical, which is scheduled to open on Broadway Nov. 8.
In terms of high-profile, marquee-value musicals for the season, Young Frankenstein is one of the biggest deals headed to Broadway so far in 2007-08. Top ticket price on Broadway will be $120, with some "premier" and "premium" seats priced at $450 and $375 per ticket.
(At the time of the Aug. 7 first preview in Seattle, the Broadway advance was already around $15 million.)
The production stars Tony winner Roger Bart (Dr. Frederick Frankenstein), Megan Mullally (as the doctor's love interest, Elizabeth), Tony winner Sutton Foster (as comely assistant Inga), Tony winner Shuler Hensley (The Monster), Tony winner Andrea Martin (as castle matron Frau Blucher), Fred Applegate (as local policeman Kemp) and Christopher Fitzgerald (as hunchback Igor), with an ensemble that includes Heather Ayers, Jim Borstelmann, Paul Castree, Jennifer Lee Crowl, Jack Doyle, James Gray, Amy Heggins, Eric Jackson, Kristin Marie Johnson, Renee Feder, Matthew LaBanca, Kevin Ligon, Barrett Martin, Linda Mugleston, Christina Marie Norrup, Justin Patterson, Brian Shepard, Sarrah Strimel, Craig Waletzko and Courtney Young.
Brooks' Academy Award-nominated film comedy had a screenplay by Brooks and Gene Wilder (who starred in the title role).
According to the producers, "Based on the Oscar-nominated smash hit 1974 film, Young Frankenstein is the wickedly inspired re-imagining of the Mary Shelley classic from the comic genius of Mel Brooks. When Frederick Frankenstein, an esteemed New York brain surgeon and professor, inherits a castle and laboratory in Transylvania from his grandfather, deranged genius Victor Von Frankenstein, he faces a dilemma. Does he continue to run from his family's tortured past or does he stay in Transylvania to carry on his grandfather's mad experiments reanimating the dead and, in the process, fall in love with his sexy lab assistant Inga?"
The show is set "in the forbidding Castle Frankenstein and the foggy moors of Transylvania Heights." The song titles include "The Transylvania Mania," "He Vas My Boyfriend" and Irving Berlin's "Puttin' On the Ritz" — a signature sequence in the film.
"The number is unbelievable," Hensley told Playbill Magazine. "It's probably seven or eight minutes, and it's a throwback to the old musicals. It's a big spectacle and pulls out all the stops. What's so great about Stro is that she tells stories through dance. And 'Puttin' on the Ritz' tells a complete story."
For information, visit www.YoungFrankensteinTheMusical.com.
The production team includes three Tony Award winning designers of The Producers: three-time Tony Award winning set designer Robin Wagner, five-time Tony Award winning costume designer William Ivey Long and Tony Award winning lighting designer Peter Kaczorowski. Jonathan Deans is the sound designer. Two other Producers alumni complete the music department: Tony-award winning orchestrator Doug Besterman and musical director Patrick Brady.
The 1974 film received two Academy Award nominations, including one for Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder's script, also nominated for a Writer's Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. "Young Frankenstein" was also the recipient of the two highest honors accorded films of science fiction: winning The Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation and The Nebula Award, given by The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, for Best Dramatic Writing. In 2000, it was selected as No. 13 on AFI's 100 Funniest American Movies of All Time and in 2003, "Young Frankenstein" was chosen for preservation in the Library of Congress National Film Registry.
"Young Frankenstein" the film draws its inspiration from director James Whale's famous films "Frankenstein" (1931) and "Bride of Frankenstein" (1935). In both, Boris Karloff played the monster and Colin Clive the mad doctor.
The New York Times reported that the $450 orchestra ticket price will apply to the 100 or so best seats in the house, which are termed "premier" seats. Premium seats, of which there are approximately 120, will be sold for $375. The remaining seats in the orchestra and dress circle will be sold for $120. Seats in the balcony will cost $60-$80.
Presumably, if there is not a market for the $375-$450 seats, they would be re-priced down to the $120 base, which is the standard high price for a Broadway musical these days.