American Premiere Of London's YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN Opens At The Walnut September 11
Walnut Street Theatre opens its 211th season with Mel Brooks' hilarious musical comedy, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN THE MUSICAL. Directed by Charles Abbott and choreographed by Mary Jane Houdina, the electrifying production begins previews on September 3, opens September 11, and continues through October 20.
It's Alive! (And it's Hilarious!) From the creators of the record-breaking Broadway sensation The Producers comes the monstrously mad musical, Young Frankenstein! Frederick Frankenstein (pronounced "Fronk-en-steen") reluctantly inherits his infamous family's estate in Transylvania. Urged on by a hunchbacked sidekick, Igor (pronounced "Eye-gore"), and a leggy lab assistant, Inga (pronounced normally), Frederick finds himself fulfilling his grandfather's corpse-raising legacy. This electrifying musical stage adaptation of Mel Brooks' brilliantly funny film will leave you in stitches!
Based on the classic Mel Brooks 1974 comedy horror film, Young Frankenstein was adapted into the stage production in 2007. The Walnut has the honor of producing the revised London version of YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN THE MUSICAL, which marks the very first time this iteration of the show will be seen in the United States. In addition to a revised script and lyrics by Mel Brooks himself, there are two new musical numbers.
Legendary director, producer, writer, and actor Mel Brooks is the recipient of three 2001 Tony Awards (Best Score, Best Book of a Musical, Best Musical) and two Grammy Awards (Best Musical Show Album and Best Long Form Music Video) for The Producers. Mr. Brooks began his distinguished career during television's "Golden Age" as a writer for Sid Caesar on Your Show of Shows in 1951 and has since worked on many successful Broadway, TV, music, and film projects including Caesar's Hour, The 2000 Year Old Man, Get Smart, Blazing Saddles, and Robin Hood: Men in Tights.
Award-winning director Charles Abbott returns to the Walnut for his 34th WST production since first directing Oliver! in 1983. His Walnut directing credits include Holiday Inn, South Pacific, And Then There Were None, Arsenic and Old Lace, Hairspray, Crazy for You, Annie (2003), and The Sound of Music. Abbott has received five Barrymore nominations, winning for his direction of 42nd Street and his performance in Cabaret at the Walnut, a role he played over 1,000 times in the first national tour of Cabaret under Harold Prince's direction. He served as the artistic director for Maine State Music Theatre for 20 seasons and inspired the creation of the Charles Abbott Fellowship that allows burgeoning directors to assist artistic directors across the country through the Society of Directors and Choreographers. Chris Burcheri takes the podium for his first season as the Walnut's Mainstage music director and Mary Jane Houdina joins Abbott as choreographer. Burcheri has provided music direction for the WST for Kids series, where his musical arrangements can be heard in A Christmas Carol. He also served as the associate conductor on Annie and Holiday Inn. Houdina's work has been seen in the movie The Great Gatsby (1974) for which she was associate choreographer, as well on Broadway in the original production of Annie (associate choreographer) and Into the Light (choreographer). At The Walnut, her work as choreographer includes High Society, Oliver!, Hairspray, 42nd Street, and Crazy for You.
Walnut veteran Ben Dibble will lead the cast as the mad scientist Dr. Frederick Frankenstein. YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN THE MUSICAL marks Dibble's 22nd Walnut Mainstage production. His versatile talents were most recently on display on the WST stage during last season's Ken Ludwig's A Comedy of Tenors. Dibble's other Walnut production credits include Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn, Noises Off, Annie, A Funny Thing...Forum, Saturday Night Fever, Harvey, High Society, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Producers, Arsenic and Old Lace, 9 to 5 the Musical, and Hairspray. Alanna J. Smith will play Dr. Frankenstein's alluring lab assistant Inga. A previous Walnut acting apprentice, Smith has become a Walnut regular and was most recently seen in last season's Ken Ludwig's A Comedy of Tenors. Audiences may also remember her from the Walnut's Noises Off, A Funny Thing...Forum, The Importance of Being Earnest, Wizard of Oz, and A Christmas Story. Luke Bradt will be making his second appearance at the Walnut as Igor, Dr. Frankenstein's hunchbacked sidekick. Bradt was last seen on the Mainstage in Annie and has since appeared in regional productions of Ragtime (Eagle Theatre), Cinderella (People's Light), and Biloxi Blues (Act II Playhouse).
Wearing specially designed boots, Dan Olmstead returns to the Walnut stage to bring Frankenstein's towering creation, The Monster, to life! Olmstead is a graduate of Temple University and has numerous Walnut credits to his name, including Matilda, South Pacific, Harvey, High Society, Arsenic and Old Lace, Good People, Amadeus, Fiddler on the Roof, Fallen Angels, A Streetcar Named Desire, Enchanted April, and Of Mice and Men. Mary Martello will play the mysterious Frau Blücher. Martello has accrued 5 Barrymore awards and 18 nominations throughout her impressive career. She has performed in over 30 WST productions and was most recently seen in Holiday Inn, Noises Off, The Humans, and Annie. The dual roles of Inspector Hans Kemp and The Hermit will be performed by another Walnut favorite, Fran Prisco. Prisco has appeared on the Walnut stage over 30 times with credits including Holiday Inn, Annie, A Funny Thing...Forum, Saturday Night Fever, The Wizard of Oz, and South Pacific. Casey Elizabeth Gill returns to the Walnut to play Frankenstein's fiancée, Elizabeth Benning. In addition to her work as an artist, Gill has appeared in many regional productions including The Walnut's Holiday Inn, South Pacific, and Matilda.
Returning to The Walnut to form the ghoulish ensemble is Robert Abdoo (High Society), Drew Franklin (Memphis), Bonnie Kelly (Holiday Inn), Adam Mandala (Legally Blonde: The Musical), Cary Michele Miller (Matilda), Audrey Simmons (Legally Blonde: The Musical), and Kayla Anne Tarpley (Holiday Inn). The Walnut welcomes Robert Mintz, Colin Pritchard, and Mark William to the Mainstage for their WST debuts.
Scenic Designer Robert Kovach (Holiday Inn, Forum, Annie, South Pacific,) returns to The Walnut to take audiences through the halls of Castle Frankenstein and the village of Transylvania Heights. Kovach will be joined by Lighting Designer Charlie Morrison (Disney's The Little Mermaid, A Christmas Story: The Musical, Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas) and Sound Designer Ed Chapman (Holiday Inn, Forum, Annie, The Wizard of Oz). From platform boots and shifting hunchbacks to mad scientists and the spooky creatures of Transylvania, Costume Designer Mary Folino (The Curious Incident...Night-Time, Matilda, Annie, Holiday Inn, South Pacific, Peter and the Starcatcher, Ken Ludwig's A Comedy of Tenors) will create the wardrobe for the cast.
YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN THE MUSICAL runs at the Walnut September 3 - October 20. Closed captioning will be available for the 7 p.m. performance on Sunday, September 29. There will be a talkback after the 8:00 p.m. performance on September 4 and after the 2:00 p.m. performance on September 15. This production is sponsored in part by Herman Goldner Co., Inc. Media Partners are 6abc and Metro. For tickets and information, call 215-574-3550 or 800-982-2787. Tickets are also available online 24/7 by visiting www.WalnutStreetTheatre.org or Ticketmaster.