Young Frankenstein (musical)

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Young Frankenstein
Young frankenstein brooksa.JPG
Original Broadway Cast Album cover
MusicMel Brooks
LyricsMel Brooks
BookMel Brooks
Thomas Meehan
BasisYoung Frankenstein
by Gene Wilder
Mel Brooks
Productions2007 Seattle (tryout)
2007 Broadway
2009 Buenos Aires
2009 First US Tour
2011 Second US Tour
2011 Paris
2012 Rome
2016 Mexico City
2017 West End
2018 UK Tour
2018 Madrid
AwardsOuter Critics Circle Award for Best Musical

Young Frankenstein (promoted as The New Mel Brooks Musical: Young Frankenstein) is a musical with a book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan, and music and lyrics by Brooks. It is based on the 1974 comedy film of the same name written by Brooks and Gene Wilder and directed by Brooks, who has described it as his best film.[1] It is a parody of the horror film genre, especially the 1931 Universal Pictures adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and its 1939 sequel, Son of Frankenstein.

After tryouts in Seattle and four weeks of previews, the musical opened on Broadway on November 8, 2007 to mixed reviews. The Broadway production closed on January 4, 2009 after 30 previews and 484 performances. A U.S. tour started on September 29, 2009 in Providence, Rhode Island.[2]

A revised version of the show opened in London's West End at the Garrick Theatre on 10 October 2017 (after a tryout at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle) to positive reviews.

Background[edit]

After the success of his 2001 musical, The Producers, based on Brooks' earlier film of the same name, Brooks decided to create a musical based on another of his successful films. Brooks and Meehan (the same team that crafted The Producers) began work on the project in April 2006. An October 2006 reading of the first draft of the script directed by Susan Stroman (who had directed the earlier musical)[3] featured Brian d'Arcy James as Dr. Frankenstein, Kristin Chenoweth as Elizabeth, Sutton Foster as Inga, Roger Bart as Igor, Marc Kudisch as Inspector Kemp, and Shuler Hensley as the Monster.[4]

Cloris Leachman, reprising her film role as Frau Blucher, also attended the table read, and at the time it was widely reported she would be offered the role of Blucher for the stage show.[5] However, gossip maven Liz Smith reported in her January 12, 2007 New York Post column that Leachman was sent a letter informing her she would not be considered for the Broadway production because the producers wanted to keep the film and stage properties separate (and also because of Brooks' concerns over Leachman's ability to perform the character consistently at her age). Despite this, due to Leachman's success on Dancing with the Stars, Brooks reportedly asked her to reprise her role as Frau Blucher after Beth Leavel left the production. However, the production closed before Leachman could take over the role.[6][7]

Productions[edit]

Seattle tryout and Broadway (2007-2009)[edit]

The pre-Broadway try-out played at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle, Washington from August 7, 2007 through September 1, 2007.

Young Frankenstein began previews on Broadway on October 11, 2007 and opened on November 8 at the Lyric Theatre (then the Hilton Theatre) and closed on January 4, 2009 after 485 performances. Directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman, it starred Roger Bart as Frankenstein, Megan Mullally as Elizabeth, Christopher Fitzgerald as Igor, Sutton Foster as Inga, Andrea Martin as Frau Blucher, Shuler Hensley as The Monster, and Fred Applegate as Inspector Kemp. Sets were designed by Robin Wagner and costumes by William Ivey Long; orchestrations were by Doug Besterman. The production had a reported $16 million-plus budget[8] and a top ticket price of $450 in its “differential seating.” It also sold front row tickets for $25 each based on a lottery a few hours before each performance.[9] The producers indicated that they planned to buck the usual Broadway practice by not reporting Box Office returns.[10]

The musical's original cast album was released on December 26, 2007, by Decca Broadway and was third on the Billboard Top Cast Album chart in the beginning of January 2008.[11]

Replacements for the Broadway company included Kelly Sullivan as Inga; Beth Leavel as Frau Blucher; Michele Ragusa as Elizabeth; and Cory English as Igor.[12][13]

US tours[edit]

First National Tour A touring production of the show began on September 2009 at the Providence Performing Arts Center, Providence, Rhode Island.[14] The cast for the tour included Roger Bart and Shuler Hensley, reprising their Broadway roles, along with Cory English (Igor), Brad Oscar (Inspector Kemp/Blind Hermit), Beth Curry (Elizabeth), Joanna Glushak (Frau Blucher) and Anne Horak (Inga).[15][16]

The show went on temporary hiatus on August 8, 2010 and re-opened on September 12, 2010 with a new cast that includes Christopher Ryan as Frederick Frankenstein, Preston Truman Boyd as The Monster, David Benoit as Inspector Kemp, Janine DiVita as Elizabeth, and Synthia Link as Inga. English and Glushak continued to play the roles they created on tour.[17]

Second National Tour The show re-opened for a second National Tour on September 30, 2011 at the Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts in Worcester, Massachusetts. The cast included A.J. Holmes (Frederick Frankenstein), Lexie Dorsett (Elizabeth), Elizabeth Pawlowski (Inga), Rory Donovan (The Monster), Pat Sibley (Frau Blucher), Christopher Timson (Igor) and Britt Hancock (Inspector Kemp).[18][19]

Newcastle tryout and West End (2017-2018)[edit]

The show made its UK premiere at the Newcastle Theatre Royal from 26 August to 9 September 2017 before transferring to London's West End at the Garrick Theatre opening on 10 October, with previews beginning 28 September.[20] The production was directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman, features set design by Beowulf Boritt, costume design by William Ivey Long, lighting design by Ben Cracknell, sound design by Gareth Owen and Andrew Hilton as musical director with Glen Kelly as musical supervisor. It is produced by Brooks, Michael Harrison, Fiery Angel and Hani Farsi.[21]

This production is a reworked version of the Broadway production, which features changes to some of the lyrics and book by Brooks and Meehan. For example, the "Transylvanian Lullaby Theme" from the original film by John Morris is used throughout, such as during the Overture, "The Experiment", "Frederick's Soliloquy" and during the exit music. Some songs and scenes were cut, i.e. "The Happiest Town" (making the musical start with "The Brain" after the Overture), "Join The Family Business" (cutting Frederick's dream sequence entirely), "Life, Life" and most of "Man About Town". The dialogue after "Surprise" is cut, ending the scene at the end of the song. Brooks wrote some new numbers i.e. "It Could Work" (sung by Frederick, Igor, Inga and Blucher upon discovering Victor's notes) and "Hang Him Till His Dead" (replacing "The Law"). The character of Mr Hiltop is cut during "The Brain", by which Frederick's demonstration is performed on one of the students named Bertram Batram. The production is also notably reworked for intimate venues such as the Garrick Theatre to work as a vaudeville piece, unlike the larger scaled Broadway production.

On April 21, the initial casting was announced, including Hadley Fraser as Frederick Frankenstein, Ross Noble as Igor, Lesley Joseph as Frau Blucher, Dianne Pilkington as Elisabeth, Summer Strallen as Inga, Patrick Clancy as Inspector Kemp and Imogen Brooke, Matt Crandon, Nathan Elwick, Kelly Ewins-Prouse, Andrew Gordon-Watkins, Sammy Kelly, Richard Pitt, Harriet Samuel-Gray, Gemma Scholes, Emily Squibb, Aron Wild and Josh Wilmott in the ensemble.[22] Shuler Hensley reprised his role as the Monster from the original Broadway and North American tour productions.[21][23] Nic Greenshields succeeded Hensley in the role of the Monster beginning 20 November 2017.[24] Cory English succeeded Noble in the role of Igor beginning 12 February 2018, reprising the role from the Broadway and North American tour productions.[25]

The Original London Cast Recording featuring 23 tracks was released on 10 August 2018, which was recorded live over several performances (although it is labeled as the "Original London Cast Recording", the album features Nic Greenshields as The Monster, who replaced Shuler Hensley).[26][27]

The West End production closed on 25 August 2018 after 11 months. Following the announcement of the West End production's closure, it was also announced that a UK tour will begin in September 2019.[26]

Synopsis[edit]

Act I[edit]

In 1934, the villagers of Transylvania Heights celebrate the funeral procession of the mad scientist, Dr. Victor von Frankenstein. However, Inspector Kemp, who has a wooden right arm and wooden left leg, tells the town of the existence of Victor's grandson: Frederick, the Dean of Anatomy at New York's Johns, Miriam and Anthony Hopkins School of Medicine. The village idiot, Ziggy, convinces the other villagers that there is no way a New York doctor would come to Transylvania, thus continuing the celebration ("The Happiest Town").

In New York, Frederick Frankenstein is embarrassed to be a Frankenstein, insisting his name be pronounced "Fronkensteen" and that he is not a mad-man but a scientist. He teaches his students about the greatest mind of science ("The Brain"). After learning that he has inherited his grandfather's castle in Transylvania, he is forced to resolve the issue of the property. As Elizabeth Benning, Frederick’s fiancée, sees him off, it is clear that their relationship is far from physical as Elizabeth enumerates all the lustful situations from which she is abstaining (“Please Don’t Touch Me”).

Arriving at Transylvania Heights, Frederick meets the hunchback Igor (pronounced "Eye-gore"), the grandson of Victor's henchman, who is over-joyed to meet Frederick. Igor tries to convince him to continue in his grandfather's footsteps ("Together Again"); he has already hired the services of Inga, a yodeling lab assistant with a degree in Laboratory Science from the local community college. After a wagon ride to Castle Frankenstein("Roll In The Hay"), they meet the mysterious Frau Blucher, whose spoken name frightens the horses.

Once inside the castle's main living room, Frederick falls asleep reading Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and dreams that his grandfather and ancestors encourage him to build a monster ("Join the Family Business"). He is awakened by Inga, and they, followed shortly by Igor, find the secret entrance to his grandfather's laboratory behind a book case by following eerie violin music. They discover the mysterious violin player to be Frau Blucher, who tells of her past with the late Victor for whom she was more than just a housekeeper ("He Vas My Boyfriend"). After reviewing his grandfather's notes, Frederick decides to carry on the experiments in the reanimation of the dead and requests Igor to find a large corpse as well as the brain of a scholar. The villagers gather at the local town hall for a meeting and are instructed to be on the lookout for grave robbers, as Frederick and Igor go through the town with their corpse ("The Law"). Igor returns with the brain, but drops it, secretly replacing it with another. Frederick creates the creature ("Life, Life"), who goes on a violent rampage shortly after waking. The doctor is dismayed to find that Igor had provided a different brain whose name he recalls as "Abby Normal".

Inspector Kemp and the townspeople come to the castle to investigate, pretending to welcome Frederick ("Welcome to Transylvania"). Frederick and his employees try to stall the villagers ("Transylvania Mania") while Frau Blucher frees the Monster without letting Frederick know. Panic ensues as the monster breaks free from the stage and runs through the audience.

Act II[edit]

The town begins to search for the Monster, with Frau Blucher trying to bringing him back with the music from the violin, but to no avail ("He's Loose"). Inga talks to the anxious doctor ("Listen to Your Heart"). Frau Blucher and Igor find the two suspended on the platform, completing what Igor refers to as "an experiment in female anatomy."

Elizabeth arrives unexpectedly in Transylvania with a large entourage ("Surprise") and finds Frederick and Inga, both in a state of undress, who tells her that no funny business was taking place. Meanwhile, the Monster finds a blind hermit named Harold after breaking through his house wall ("Please Send Me Someone"). Eventually, after Harold accidentally pours hot soup into the Monster's lap and lights his thumb (mistaking it as a cigar), the Monster is pained into another wild rampage and leaves. Frederick locks himself into a room with the Monster, and after overcoming his fears he tells the Monster that he is a handsome man who is loved and will be hailed by all ("Man About Town").

The Monster is presented at the Loews Transylvania Theatre, now dressed as a gentleman, first walking on command, and then dancing to Irving Berlin's "Puttin' On the Ritz". While taking his bow, the Monster is scared when some stage lights explode. Elizabeth is kidnapped by the creature and is taken to a cave, where he forces himself on her. However, she is now seeing a different side of the Monster and discovers what she has been yearning for in her life ("Deep Love"). Luring the Monster back to the castle by the music of a French horn, Frederick attempts an intelligence transfer, but the Monster does not wake, and to make things worse, Inspector Kemp and the angry villagers (believing that Elizabeth has been killed by the Monster) break into the castle and bring Frederick to the gallows. The doctor is hanged after finally accepting his family name ("Frederick's Soliloquy").

The Monster returns, not only able to speak articulately but also using his newly transferred medical skills to discover that Frederick is not dead, but merely unconscious and is able to revive him. Just as the crowd is about to re-hang Frederick and the Monster, Elizabeth arrives with a Bride of Frankenstein hairdo. The Monster proposes to Elizabeth (“Deep Love” (Reprise)) and a happy ending is ahead for all as the moon shines high on the newly engaged Doctor and Inga (“Finale Ultimo”).

Differences from the original film[edit]

Although the plot remains mostly the same, there are several changes from the original film. "The Happiest Town in Town" is not based on any scene from the film. Elizabeth arrives in Transylvania earlier than in the film, where she arrives after "Puttin' on The Ritz," a song performed in the film by only Frederick and the Monster; in the musical, it is sung by all the characters, except Elizabeth and the villagers. The scene from the film with the little girl is not in the musical. In the film, the Monster is lured not by a French horn but a violin, and awakens in the laboratory directly after the brain transfer; in the musical, the Villagers hang Frederick before the Monster wakes and saves him, with the ensuing finale much expanded.[28]

Musical numbers[edit]

Broadway song list[edit]

*Note: "The Law" and the reprises of "He Vas My Boyfriend" and "He's Loose" are not included on the cast recording.

London song list[edit]

Casts[edit]

Role Original Broadway production

(2007- 2009)

First US National Tour

(2009 - 2010)

Original London production

(2017)

Frederick Frankenstein Roger Bart Hadley Fraser
Elizabeth Megan Mullally Beth Curry Dianne Pilkington
Inga Sutton Foster Synthia Lirk Summer Strallen
The Monster Shuler Hensley
Frau Blucher Andrea Martin Joanna Glushak Lesley Joseph
Igor Christopher Fitzgerald Cory English Ross Noble
Inspector Kemp / Hermit Fred Applegate Brad Oscar Patrick Clancy

Broadway replacement cast[edit]

London replacement cast[edit]

  • Nic Greenshields replaced Shuler Hensley as "The Monster" on 20 November 2017.[24]
  • Cory English replaced Ross Noble as "Igor" on 12 February 2018.[25]

Instrumentation[edit]

The Broadway orchestrations by Doug Besterman call for a large twenty-four-piece orchestra, including three violins, two violas, two violoncelli, three trumpets, two trombones, two French horns, four woodwinds, three keyboards, one drum set, one percussionist, and one bass.

The London orchestrations, also by Besterman, have been scaled down for a ten-piece orchestra.

Reception[edit]

Young Frankenstein generally received mixed critical reviews, and was often compared to The Producers.[33][34] The New York Times called it "an overblown burlesque revue, right down to its giggly smuttiness ... Mr. Brooks’s songs have a throwaway quality, as if they were dashed off on the day of the performance."[35]

The New York Post gave a more positive review, saying that the show "is nearly very good indeed" and that "Brooks and Stroman pull out every stop. Despite music that's more ho-hum than hummable, Brooks' lyrics are bright and witty. Better yet, the book ... does a great job, with the assistance of co-writer Thomas Meehan, in transferring the original script to the stage."[36]

The Daily Telegraph said that "Susan Stroman directs and choreographs with her usual wit and invention," but also mentioned that "you cannot escape the impression that everyone is working desperately hard to animate essentially weak material, and the show fatally lacks that touch of the sublime that made The Producers so special."[37]

The production won a Broadway.com Audience Award for Favorite New Broadway Musical.[38]

When describing the audience's reaction, Brooks said, "I love what they do. The audience knows 'Young Frankenstein' the movie; they didn't know 'The Producers.' They all neigh when anyone on stage says 'Frau Blucher.' And they can't wait for the Blind Hermit to spill the hot soup on the monster's lap. It's great to see the audience play ping-pong with the actors."[39]

The West End production fared much better with critics and even received four to five star ratings from WhatsOnStage.com, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph and the London Evening Standard.[40]

Major awards and nominations[edit]

Original Broadway production[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result Ref
2008 Tony Award Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical Christopher Fitzgerald Nominated [41]
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical Andrea Martin Nominated
Best Scenic Design of a Musical Robin Wagner Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical Christopher Fitzgerald Nominated [42]
Shuler Hensley Nominated
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical Andrea Martin Nominated
Outstanding Lyrics Mel Brooks Nominated
Outstanding Choreography Susan Stroman Nominated
Outer Critics Circle Award Best Musical Won [43]
Best Score Mel Brooks Nominated
Best Actor in a Musical Roger Bart Nominated
Best Featured Actor in a Musical Christopher Fitzgerald Nominated
Shuler Hensley Nominated
Best Director of a Musical Susan Stroman Nominated
Drama League Award Distinguished Production of a Musical Nominated [44]
Distinguished Performance Roger Bart Nominated
Sutton Foster Nominated
2009 Grammy Award Best Musical Theater Album Nominated [45]

Original US national tour[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result Ref
2011 San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award Best Production Nominated [46]

Original West End production[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result Ref
2018 Laurence Olivier Awards Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical Ross Noble Nominated [47]
Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical Lesley Joseph Nominated
Best New Musical Nominated

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Mel Brooks Thinks It Time for Frankenstein to Dance". New Zealand Herald. April 10, 2006. Retrieved 2007-07-04.
  2. ^ "Hensley and Bart Put on the Ritz on the Road in Young Frankenstein", playbill.com, September 29, 2009
  3. ^ "Chenoweth, Hensley, Kudisch to Star in October Workshop of Young Frankenstein". Playbill News. September 6, 2006. Retrieved 2007-07-04.
  4. ^ Simonson, Robert. "It's FRAHN-ken-steen: Brian D'Arcy James Nabs Lead Role in Young Frankenstein Workshop", playbill.com, Oct. 18, 2006
  5. ^ "Leachman to Return for Young Frankenstein Musical". Contact Music. August 11, 2006. Retrieved 2007-07-04.
  6. ^ "Axed 'Dancing' star Cloris Leachman may reprise 'Frankenstein' role".
  7. ^ "Broadway World - #1 for Broadway Shows, Theatre, Entertainment, Tickets & More!". www.broadwayworld.com.
  8. ^ Brantley, Ben."Who Put the Trance in Transylvania?",The New York Times, November 9, 2007
  9. ^ "Puttin' on the Ritz (and the understudy) – The Stage – October 23, 2007 Retrieved October 25, 2007".
  10. ^ "'Frankenstein' a monster production - Variety - October 19, 2007".
  11. ^ "playbill.com article, "Wicked, Jersey Boys and Young Frankenstein Are Tops on Cast Albums Chart", January 10, 2008".
  12. ^ Desk, BWW News. "Leavel, Ragusa and Sullivan Join 'Frankenstein' This Summer".
  13. ^ "Cory English Tapped to Play Igor in Young Frankenstein".
  14. ^ Young Frankenstein Will Tour Starting in Fall 2009 Playbill, Retrieved September 2, 2017
  15. ^ Jones, Kenneth."Together Again: Bart and Hensley Will Tour in Young Frankenstein," playbill.com, July 30, 2009
  16. ^ Gray, Channing."Theatre Review:'Young Frankenstein' "The Providence Journal, October 3, 2009
  17. ^ "Young Frankenstein Cast".
  18. ^ Young Frankenstein tour opens in Worcester Telegram, Retrieved February 22, 2018
  19. ^ https://www.broadwayworld.com/shows/cast.php?showid=330228&cast_type=replacement
  20. ^ "Dates for Young Frankenstein West End run announced". WhatsOnStage.com. Retrieved 2017-02-09.
  21. ^ a b Swain, Marianaka (6 October 2017). "BWW Interview: Susan Stroman On Bringing YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN To London". Broadway World. Retrieved 2017-10-06. And you've got one original cast member, Shuler Hensley? Yes, the entire cast is British other than Shuler!
  22. ^ Cole, Emily (21 April 2017). "Hadley Fraser, Summer Strallen & More to Star in London's Young Frankenstein". Broadway.com. Retrieved 2017-04-23.
  23. ^ Hardwick, Viv (24 August 2017). "Theatre: North-East comic Ross Noble stars in Young Frankenstein coming to Newcastle". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 2017-08-26. The plot features Frederick (Hadley Fraser), the grandson of Dr Frankenstein, ending up in Transylvania Heights, in 1934, and building another monster (Shuler Hensley).
  24. ^ a b Andrew Gans (15 November 2017). "West End's Young Frankenstein Will Welcome a New Monster". Playbill. Retrieved 2018-02-04.
  25. ^ a b Frankenstein, Young (12 February 2018). "From tonight there's a new guy in the hump! Show some deep love to our new Igor, Cory English (@cocoanglais).pic.twitter.com/CLbig5Zz6R". @youngfrankldn. Retrieved 2018-02-13.
  26. ^ a b Andrew Gans (10 May 2018). "Young Frankenstein to close in West End, UK tour and cast recording announced". WhatsonStage. Retrieved 2018-06-20.
  27. ^ Various artists, Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein, retrieved 2018-08-17
  28. ^ Synopsis sources:Herald.net, 8/25/07 and Variety, 8/26/07
  29. ^ Foster's Roll in the Hay in Young Frankenstein Is Over July 6 Playbill, Retrieved September 2, 2017
  30. ^ Leavel Will Join Young Frankenstein a Week Early Playbill, Retrieved September 2, 2017
  31. ^ Hump Day: Cory English Is Young Frankenstein's New Igor, Starting Nov. 25 Playbill, Retrieved September 2, 2017
  32. ^ Hump Day: Cory English Is Young Frankenstein's New Igor, Starting Nov. 25 Archived 2009-01-07 at the Wayback Machine.
  33. ^ Zoglin, Richard (9 November 2007). "Young Frankenstein: Monster Mashed" – via www.time.com.
  34. ^ "Daily News, November 9, 2007".
  35. ^ Brantley, Ben (9 November 2007). "Young Frankenstein - Review - Theater" – via NYTimes.com.
  36. ^ "NOT QUITE A MONSTER". 9 November 2007.
  37. ^ "Culture". 8 March 2017 – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
  38. ^ "2008 Audience Award Winners Announced: Young Frankenstein Tops List of Fan Faves".
  39. ^ "'Young Frankenstein' comes alive with music - Mel Brooks musical coming to Milwaukee".
  40. ^ Were the critics brought to life by Young Frankenstein? WhatsOnStage.com, October 11, 2017
  41. ^ 2007-2008 Tony Nominations Announced; In the Heights Earns 13 Noms Archived 2008-05-16 at the Wayback Machine., Playbill, May 13, 2008
  42. ^ playbill article, April 28, 2008, "Drama Desk Nominees Announced; Catered Affair Garners 12 Noms" Archived May 1, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  43. ^ Playbill News: Young Frankenstein Tops Outer Critics Circle Awards Nominations Archived 2008-04-30 at the Wayback Machine.
  44. ^ Desk, BWW News. "2007-08 Drama League Award Nominations Announced".
  45. ^ Gypsy, In the Heights, Mermaid, Pacific and Frankenstein Are Grammy-Nominated Archived 2008-12-07 at the Wayback Machine.
  46. ^ SF Bay Area Critics Awards Ceremony Is April 4; Dreamgirls, Shrek, Mandy Patinkin Are Nominees playbill.com
  47. ^ HAMILTON Breaks Olivier Nomination Record; Audra McDonald, Andrew Garfield, and More Nominated; Full List! broadwayworld.com

External links[edit]