Sunday, March 29, 2009

Medieval Broadway: Young Frankenstein (2007)

Based on Mel Brooks’s 1974 feature film, the Tony-award-winning The New Mel Brook's Musical Young Frankenstein, with book by Mel Brooks and Tom Meehan and lyrics by Mel Brooks, recounts events in the life of Frederick “Freddie” Frankenstein, the grandson of infamous monster-maker Victor Frankenstein, and focuses on the conflict faced by Freddie, the dean of anatomy at the Johns, Miriam, and Anthony Hopkins School of Medicine in New York, as he struggles to resist his family history of monster making. Having returned to his ancestral castle in Transylvania, Freddie’s inner conflict takes physical form in the music number “Join the Family Business” in which Victor, along with Freddie’s other ancestors, who claim to have “been the pride of Romania / since twelve-o-one,” manifest in a nightmare and urge him to “Join the fam’ly bus’ness, / Learn the fam’ly trade / Make yourself a monster, / Make the world afraid!” and similar phrases.

Freddie eventually succumbs to the allure of monster making and devises his own creation to the horror of the townsfolk. The closing music number “Final Ultimo” references the other famous monster of Transylvania, Dracula, and features a brief walk-on by the count, who, in an accent reminiscent of actor Bela Lugosi, announces his intention of “relocating to the Transylvania area” and wonders if Freddie’s castle might be for sale. Freddie replies in the negative, as he has decided to settle down in Transylvania with his lab assistant and “join the fam’ly bus’ness […]”.

The official website includes photos from the play, while the Decca Broadway page for the cast album offers a sampling of the each of the songs. The show closed on Broadway in January, and its national tour begins in September.

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