Monster musical opens November 8
All together, now: It’s Fronk-en-shteen.“Young Frankenstein,” Mel Brooks’ much-anticipated follow-up to “The Producers,” has finally confirmed a cast (Roger Bart, Megan Mullally, Sutton Foster, among others), an opening date (Nov. 8) and a theater (the Hilton). Production will be capitalized at $16 million, according to Robert F.X. Sillerman, who was a producer of “The Producers” and co-produces “Frankenstein” with Brooks. “It’s a big show,” Sillerman said. Cast and theater have been public secrets for a while now, but an official announcement of the production’s New York plans was held until the current tenant of the Hilton, “The Pirate Queen,” posted a June 17 closing notice earlier this week. Legiters are keeping a close eye on “Frankenstein” as a potential blockbuster along the lines of “The Producers,” the recently shuttered 2001 musical that ignited the box office and swept 12 Tony Awards. The new tuner tries out in Seattle in August. Based on Brooks’ 1974 pic, “Frankenstein” reunites composer/lyricist/co-book writer Brooks with “Producers” collaborators Thomas Meehan (co-book writer) and Susan Stroman (helmer-choreographer). Design team, too, is made up of “Producers” alums. Bart will play Frederick Frankenstein, a descendant of Mary Shelley’s mad genius, opposite Megan Mullally (“Will and Grace”) as his uptight fiancee Elizabeth, Sutton Foster (“The Drowsy Chaperone”) as lusty lab assistant Inga and Christopher Fitzgerald (“Gutenberg! The Musical”) as Igor (that’s “Eye-gor”). Shuler Hensley (“Tarzan”) plays the Monster, while Fred Applegate portrays Inspector Kemp. This time around, Brooks and Sillerman are producing alone. “A lot of people in the business would love to invest in the show,” said Sillerman, the wealthy head of content company CKX, whose assets include “American Idol” and the name and likeness of Elvis Presley. “But in this case, money was never an issue.” Music for “Frankenstein” — with tunes such as “The Transylvania Mania” and “He Vas My Boyfriend,” as well as the Monster’s soft-shoe version of Irving Berlin’s “Puttin’ on the Ritz” — has a 1930s sound in keeping with the era in which the story takes place, Sillerman said. The size of the production’s design elements, he added, made the Hilton a better fit for the show than the St. James, the former home of “The Producers” that had initially been earmarked to house “Frankenstein.” Tickets for the show will go on sale July 15, with unorthodox means of ticket distribution a strong possibility. “The Producers” was singlehandedly responsible for kickstarting Broadway’s premium-price ticket phenomenon. Similar high-demand factors are expected for Brooks’ new show. “Frankenstein” runs at the Paramount Theater in Seattle Aug. 7-Sept. 1, then kicks off previews at the Hilton Oct. 11 for its Nov. 8 opening.
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