The 2010-11 season is at hand! Do you feel the rumbling of the ground? Do you see torches lighting up the night sky? Do you hear the frightened screams of the Tempe townspeople? Well, no wonder! Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein is coming to ASU Gammage September 27 and will have its merry way with Valley audiences until October 3.
Young Frankenstein, haughtily renamed The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein was adapted to the stage by Mel Brooks (book,music and lyrics) with a generous, zany literary assist from Thomas Meehan. It is based on the 1974 classic horror film spoof written by Brooks and Gene Wilder and directed by Brooks, who has described it as his best film.
The First National Tour of Young Frankenstein features Christopher Ryan as Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, Preston Truman Boyd as The Monster, Cory English as Igor, David Benoit as Inspector Kemp/Blind Hermit, Janine Devita as Elizabeth Benning, Joanna Glushak as Frau Blucher and Synthia Link as Inga.
The original production opened on Broadway at the Hilton Theatre on November 8, 2007 to markedly mixed reviews. Following the extraordinary success of his musical adaptation of The Producers, Brooks may have thought he owned Broadway and could do no wrong. The production had a reported $16 million-plus budget and an unheard of top ticket price of $450.The show's producers indicated that they planned to buck the usual Broadway practice by not reporting Box Office returns. Broadway does not respond well to inflated egos. Just ask Andrew Lloyd-Webber, Tommy Tune or Michael Bennett (well, you would need a Ouija Board to ask Bennett)! Ergo, a good musical knocked down a few pegs by the critical and theater community, incensed by such unappetizing attitudes.
Young Frankenstein was directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman. Its original company 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. The magnificent sets were designed by Robin Wagner with costumes by William Ivey Long.
Ben Brantley in The New York Times wrote: "The show takes many of the elements that made The Producers such a delight and then saps them of their joy by overselling them ... [it] feels less like a sustained book musical than an overblown burlesque revue, right down to its giggly smuttiness ... Mr. Brooks’ songs have a throwaway quality, as if they were dashed off on the day of the performance."
The Broadway production closed on January 4, 2009 after a disappointing run of 484 performances.
Okay, the truth? Young Frankenstein is certainly not The Producers but it is also not the seriously flawed failure reported by the critics. Brooks' score, for the most part, is very enjoyable and a lot of fun. Strohman worked her cast into a delightful comic frenzy. While Andrea Martin's Frau Blucher was the perfect match for the film's Cloris Leachman, Megan Mullally's Elizabeth defiled the sweet memory of Madeline Kahn. Mullally, the Karen Walker of Will & Grace, seemed perfect for the role. In reality, on stage, she was unfunny and inept and uninspiring to Brooks who saddled her with the show's least likeable numbers.
Young Frankenstein suffered most at the hands of Robin Wagner's breathtaking scenic design. Hint: there's a famous Broadway saying: "You know a show's in trouble when the audience exits the theater humming the sets!" Ironically, that phrase was coined to describe Wagner's sets for On the 20th Century, a quarter century before.
Young Frankenstein's Grammy nominated original cast album is available from Decca Broadway.
For further information regarding the coming 2010-11 season, ticket availability, subscriptions and/or performance schedule, please contact the ASU Gammage Box Office directly ON LINE or by telephone at (480) 965 3434.
ASU Gammage 1200 South Forest Avenue Tempe 85281