Hello, Phyllis? Will Leachman Play Blucher in Broadway's Young Frankenstein?
By Kenneth Jones
Cloris Leachman, the 82-year-old Academy Award-winning actress who also has seven Emmy Awards on her mantel, might parlay her recent reality TV appearance on "Dancing With the Stars" into a Broadway bow in Young Frankenstein.
Leachman — widely known as the edgy, acerbic Phyllis Lindstrom on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and, later, on her own show, "Phyllis" — is in discussions to re-create the role of Frau Blucher in the Broadway musical stage version of the Mel Brooks film, a spokesman for the show told Playbill.com.
Leachman played the creepy ex-lover of the late Dr. Frankenstein in the 1974 Brooks film. The lady in question is so (perhaps sexually) menacing that the very mention of her name prompts horses to whinny in terror. Some claim that "blucher" is German or Yiddish for "glue" (horses are turned into glue, right?) but internet sources such as About.com (http://german.about.com/library/blgermyth02.htm) say no such translation exists.
Brooks didn't consider her for the part on stage in 2007 because he thought she was too old, and he worried the demands of the show might kill her. Her acrobatic turn as a dancer on the ABC competition series "Dancing With the Stars" proved she has stamina, even if she was sometimes winded after the workout. She was eliminated from the show following the Oct. 29 episode but later danced an encore on "The View."
Brooks is apparently convinced she can do Broadway now; it doesn't hurt that she is one of the most talked-about celebrities at the moment.
"We're negotiating," Leachman told Newsweek. "[Brooks is] not worried anymore. [TV dance partner Corky Ballas] threw me around today on 'The View,' and I thought I was dead when I stood up. I can't tell you — I really thought I died! I thought I was in heaven."
A national tour of Young Frankenstein launches in 2009. Her appearance in that — though nothing of it has been mentioned — would surely stimulate box office in markets across the nation.
Andrea Martin created the role of Frau Blucher in the 2007 musical (and was Tony-nominated for it), and Tony winner Beth Leavel currently has the part at the Hilton Theatre.
Leachman won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for "The Last Picture Show." She won Emmys for a range of work, including appearances on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "Malcolm in the Middle."
Visit http://abc.go.com/primetime/dancingwiththestars/index?pn=index to view episodes.
Leachman's Broadway credits, according to Internet Broadway Database, include Sundown Beach (1948), South Pacific (she was an understudy and a replacement Nellie Forbush), As You Like It (1950), A Story for a Sunday Evening, Lo and Behold!, Sunday Breakfast, Dear Barbarians, The Crucible (1953), A Touch of the Poet (1954), King of Hearts (1954) and Masquerade (1959).
She won a 1951 Theatre World Award for A Story for a Sunday Evening.
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