|Boris Karloff's image in the role of his lifetime dominated all|
renditions of the story for years and years.
Boris Karloff's performance as the monster was so iconic, no one thought to vary from it.
For most of the 20th Century, anytime anyone thought about, wrote about, or portrayed Frankenstein's Monster, they used Karloff's performance as a template.
|The Rocky Horror Show provided a dramatic departure from the standard version of Frankenstein. This creature was a scar-free muscle boy; I wrote about this show here, on a previous Dance Party.|
|Even comedic versions of Frankenstein tend to keep the general look of Boris Karloff's original monster. TV's The Munsters featured Fred Gwynne as an endearing goofball.|
|Gothic soap Dark Shadows created its own version of the|
Frankenstein story. The performances of Robert Rodan and
Marie Wallace, as Adam and Eve, dominated the show for
almost a year.
The film was a big hit for all involved. Thirty-plus years later, Mel turned his classic comedy into a stage musical, with limited success.
Mel Brooks had phenomenal success with his stage version of The Producers, which won a record 12 Tony awards.
It was probably inevitable that Brooks's follow-up to The Producers would be a letdown, and Mel certainly provided one.
In one of many fits of hubris on Mel's part, he called his new show The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein, and charged a top price of over $400 per ticket. The production ran just over a year, after opening to decidedly mixed reviews; in a break from Broadway tradition, the show declined to reveal weekly box office tallies. After the success of The Producers, and indeed, after the success of the original film of Young Frankenstein, the new show must be counted a disappointment.
I saw the First National Tour of Young Frankenstein (excuse me, I mean The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein) when it came through DC, and it was a well-produced but poorly constructed hodgepodge. Broadway's original star Roger Bart headlined the tour, and I actually liked his performance, which had been overlooked at Tony time (in fact, the show received only 3 Tony nominations, losing them all).
The show just did not have the strength of The Producers, and in later years, Brooks blamed the popularity of his original film for the musical's rather poor reception. He claimed that, with The Producers, nobody remembered the film which provided the source material, but everybody knew and loved Young Frankenstein the movie.
Mel claimed that, because of the film's popularity, any change for the stage version was met with dismay by its fans. He is making way too many excuses for his own lukewarm work; other than the addition of the throwaway music, there are very few changes from screen-to-stage. All the film gags are still in place, but Brooks's score and libretto are both more smutty than amusing. His style of tongue-in-cheek snark was a good fit for the show biz world of The Producers, but did not work in a horror/sci-fi send-up.
|Everyone loved the overblown "Puttin' on the Ritz," but buried in the middle of Act Two, it was a long wait for this showstopper.|
It also illustrates the thesis I presented so many paragraphs ago, that the visual personification of Frankenstein's Monster has varied little from the old Hollywood film days (Matt Lauer's costume is proof). After the number itself, the staff indulges in the obligatory chitchat with the cast, which includes Bart, Foster, and another Tony winner, Shuler Hensley as the creature. You can skip that part.
|To get tickets, all you had to remember was the name of the|
creator of the show.