Frankenstein, a New Musical, Is Alive Off-Broadway, Opening Nov. 1

News   Frankenstein, a New Musical, Is Alive Off-Broadway, Opening Nov. 1
The laboratory time known as previews has ended. Frankenstein, a New Musical comes to full life Nov. 1 when it officially opens Off-Broadway at 37 Arts on West 37th Street.
Hunter Foster stars in Frankenstein.
Hunter Foster stars in Frankenstein. Photo by Carol Rosegg

Hunter Foster and Steve Blanchard play the famed creator and creature, respectively. Previews began Oct. 10.

The serious-minded musical based on Mary Shelley's 19th-century novel about playing God by bringing the dead back to life has music by composer Mark Baron and book and lyrics by Jeffrey Jackson. Broadway favorites Christiane Noll, Jim Stanek and Mandy Bruno are also in the company, directed by Bill Fennelly.

Tony Award nominee Hunter Foster, known for comic turns in Little Shop of Horrors, Urinetown and The Producers, gets to play darker colors as Victor Frankenstein, "the rebel scientist who challenges the laws of nature and morality when he breathes life into his inanimate creature," according to the producers. "Faced with intolerance and adversity, the scientist's creation rebels against the world around him, ultimately destroying the very man who gave him life."

Noll plays Elizabeth, Victor Frankenstein's wife, Stanek is Henry, and Bruno is Justine. The ensemble includes Becky Barta, Nick Cartell, Casey Erin Clark, Struan Erlenborn, Eric Michael Gillette, Leslie Henstock, Patrick Mellen and Aaron Serotsky.

(This is a busy fall Shelley's characters: A few blocks away on 42nd Street, on Oct. 11, Foster's Tony Award-winning sister, Sutton Foster, began playing Inga in the first Broadway preview of Mel Brooks' musical Young Frankenstein. It opens Nov. 8.) Presented by Gerald Goehring, Douglas C. Evans, Michael F. Mitri in association with Barbara & Emery Olcott and David S. Stone, Frankenstein's "original story adaptation" is by Gary P. Cohen.

In its development, the show was billed as a "bold new theatrical experience" rather than "a musical," but now it's "a new musical." Producer Evans told it was important to separate his show from the wealth of non-musical adaptations of the psychological sci-fi yarn.

"Our goal was to create an adaptation that remains faithful to Shelley's original novel," writers Mark Baron and Jeffrey Jackson said in a statement. "Frankenstein has inspired nearly two centuries of adaptations in almost every medium imaginable. While today's audiences may be most familiar with the film adaptations, we've gone directly back to the source. In deconstructing one of the most popular story of all time, we hope to offer a new perspective for contemporary audiences."

Frankenstein does not want to be camp or parody, producer 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 ten minutes with intermission, it's sweepingly heavy and intense. The words that we use are 'epic' and 'sweeping.'"

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 ten-feet-tall, bolt-neck behemoth. His human scale makes the story more moving, Evans suggested.

The projection-filled, song-rich pop show, told in flashback, has a creative team that includes Kevin Judge (scenic design), Emily Pepper (costume design), Thom Weaver (lighting design), Dominic Sack and Carl Casella (sound design) and Richard DeRosa and Marc Baron (orchestrations).

Director Fennelly is former artistic director of the Actor's Express in Atlanta. He was a resident director of The Lion King on tour.

Baron composed musical adaptations of Treasure Island and Snow White, which both premiered at the Forum Theater in Metuchen, NJ, and The Reluctant Dragon, in collaboration with Gary P. Cohen. Jackson (book and lyrics) penned the screenplay "White Collared" and wrote, directed and starred in the acclaimed short film, "Our First Fight."


Christiane Noll, who was part of the out-of-town tryout of The Mambo Kings, made her Broadway debut as Emma Carew in Frank Wildhorn's Jekyll & Hyde. She later joined the Broadway company of It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues and starred in the City Center Encores! production of The New Moon. The singing actress was most recently seen in the American premiere of The Witches of Eastwick.

Steve Blanchard's Broadway credits include The Three Musketeers, Camelot and Beauty and the Beast.

Stanek appeared in the Broadway productions of Lestat and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

Bruno recently played Eponine in Broadway's Les Miserables.

Frankenstein performances play Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 PM; Wednesday and Sunday at 3 PM; and Saturdays at 2 PM. Tickets are on sale at or at (212) 307-4100. Student rush tickets ($20 each) are available at all performances 20 minutes prior to curtain with valid student ID.

37 Arts is located in Manhattan at 450 West 37th Street.

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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's stage musical version of his film comedy "Young Frankenstein" began at Broadway's Hilton Theatre Oct. 11. Book is by Brooks and Thomas Meehan, songs are by Brooks. Susan Stroman directs and choreographs.
  • 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.
  • Steve Blanchard and Christiane Noll in the new Off-Broadway musical, <i>Frankenstein</i>.
    Steve Blanchard and Christiane Noll in the new Off-Broadway musical, Frankenstein. Photo by Carol Rosegg
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