Reanimating humans is a rather ambitious task. Consider all that could go askew. But then consider the brilliancy of success. What if?
Re-imagining horror and making it comical seems a bit risky, too. But regard the theatrical inventiveness of Mel Brooks.
Brooks first gave new life to Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel “Frankenstein” (or “The Modern Prometheus”) as a film in 1974. Now adapted into a Broadway production, the wickedly comical musical “Young Frankenstein” is coming to the Lutcher Theater on Oct. 24 at 7:30 p.m.
The musical comedy is as monstrous a success as was the 1974 film scripted by Brooks and Gene Wilder and winner of two Academy Awards. The Outer Critics Circle Award named the production Best Broadway Musical in 2008, and it is the winner of five Broadway.com Audience Awards, including Favorite New Broadway Musical.
“Young Frankenstein” breathes new life into Shelley’s text by following Frederick Frankenstein, successful New York brain surgeon and dean of anatomy at the Johns, Miriam and Anthony Hopkins School of Medicine, to Transylvania Heights to possibly take over the castle and grotesque work of his deceased mad scientist grandfather, Victor Von Frankenstein. Set in 1934, the young Frankenstein, engaged to the rather cold Elizabeth (who sings “Don’t Touch Me”) decides that bringing humans back to life is a rather enticing preoccupation, especially after the discovery of a huge corpse with “an enormous schwanstuker.” Along to help are sexy lab assistant Inga, hideous but helpful Igor (pronounced eye-gore), the notorious hunchback charged with finding a brain for the project, and spooky housekeeper Frau Blucher, whose name alone scares the horses.
The performance intertwines iconic moments of the film with uproarious musical score.
Recall the hilarity of the film dialogue when Frankenstein asks Igna to “elevate me” and she misunderstands. Or the scene when Frankenstein orders, “No matter what you hear in there, no matter how cruelly I beg you, no matter how terribly I may scream, do not open this door or you will undo everything I have worked for. Do you understand? Do not open this door.” Dutifully Inga precisely follows his command, despite his pleadings otherwise.
The laboratory of the living dead comes to life with original Brooks songs including “The Brain,” “Roll in the Hay,” “He Vas My Boyfriend,” “He’s Loose,” “Transylvania Mania” and “Puttin’ on the Ritz.”
Shelley’s novel has spawned decades of horror spoofs: “Bride of Frankenstein” (1935), “Son of Frankenstein” (1939), “The Curse of Frankenstein” (1957), “The Revenge of Frankenstein” (1958), “The Evil of Frankenstein” (1964), “Blackenstein” (1973), “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” (1948), “Flesh for Frankenstein” (1973) and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (1975). Still Brooks’ take of the novel is exceptional. The film is listed No. 13 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 funniest American movies. In 2003, it was deemed “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” by the United States National Film Preservation Board, and selected for preservation in the Library of Congress National Film Registry.
The film-to-stage horror spoof that opened on Broadway in 2007 and has been touring for three years features an award-winning production team including 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.
“We’ve looked at this production before but it didn’t work out with scheduling,” said Lynae Sanford, marketing director for Lutcher Theater. “When you have something as popular as this show, you grab it as soon as you can. It’s a hilarious, funny show, based on the movie; it has a following in and of itself. It’s something that everyone wants to see come alive on stage.”
Sanford says the production is one of the larger to come to Lutcher, and the audience can expect big Halloween-like special effects including electricity and lightening as the monster comes to life.
“It’s perfect timing,” said Sanford. “It will get you in the mood of Halloween without taking you away from planned Halloween activities.”
The Examiner is the local sponsor of the show and is hosting a blood drive on Oct. 19 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. cooperatively with Lutcher Theater and LifeShare Blood Centers. Those giving blood at The Examiner office, 795 Willow in downtown Beaumont, will be entered to win tickets to see “Young Frankenstein” on Oct. 24.
As of this writing, tickets ($40-$60) were available for “Young Frankenstein” as well as Lutcher’s other performances including “Shrek – The Musical,” “South Pacific,” “In The Heights,” Mannheim Steamroller Christmas, “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Moulin Rouge – The Ballet,” “My Fair Lady,” Blue Man Group, “Doubt,” The All New Original Tribute to “The Blues Brothers” and Children’s Series: Treasured Stories, “Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters,” “Romeo and Juliet” and “Twinkle Twonkle.”
For tickets and information, contact the Lutcher at (409) 886-5535 or visit the Web site www.lutcher.org.