In Frankenstein: A New Musical, Frankenstein is not a Hollywood monster complete with lift shoes and bolts protruding from his neck. Instead, he is a flesh and blood man hell bent on revenge, and that can make an even scarier production.
The musical, which premiered off-Broadway in 2007, will make its regional premiere on Friday, Oct. 21, at the Majestic Theatre in Manchester.
“We wanted to do something in the horror/thriller genre,” said A. Robert Dionne, artistic director at the Majestic Theatre. “Everyone knows the pop musical Young Frankenstein. We wanted to try something new.”
Frankenstein: A New Musical is based on the Mary Shelley novel of the same name and, according to Dionne, is one of the only productions sanctioned by the Shelley estate. Dionne said he has recently been exposed to a new royalty company, which had the title to this production. He said he stumbled upon the script. Dionne said he ordered the perusal and was impressed by the quality of the music.
“It also brought a lot of interesting challenges as far as special effects,” Dionne said. “We also needed a good director. We got that in Brett Mallard. He is phenomenal.”
The production also provides an acting challenge for The Creature, who is much more a man than in other Frankenstein productions. Stuart Harmon plays The Creature and Shawn Koczarski stars as Victor Frankenstein.
“We pulled the best of the best from the area,” Dionne said. “These are award-winning actors. It’s a smaller cast and they’re really on the top of their game.
“With a production that is this involved, we needed actors who were mature not just musically but acting-wise,” Dionne continued. “We hit a home run.”
Dionne said the production would give audiences a chance to see new theater that wasn’t weird. The show appeals to everyone, as it is modern and contemporary for those who enjoy those types of productions but it also closely follows the classic tale.
The tale of Frankenstein
In 1793, a sailing vessel comes upon a man alone on an iceberg north of the Arctic Circle. The man is Victor Frankenstein. He tells the sailors his story.
Frankenstein is a child prodigy who, motivated by his own mother’s death, begins researching the secrets of life in death. At first, his ideas are mocked by the scientific community, so Frankenstein continues his work in secret. During his research, he claims the body of a hanged criminal and brings it to life. But the creature is hideous and, fearing what he has done, Frankenstein sets his laboratory on fire. He believes he has killed the creature. However, he has not. The creature searches out Frankenstein, hoping to find a father figure, but instead only finds hatred. In response, he wants to ruin Frankenstein so he too will know loneliness.
In the second act, the creature has killed several of Frankenstein’s loved ones and so the doctor begins creating a female creature as a companion. But he cannot go through with it and destroys it. This enrages the creature, who kills more of Frankenstein’s family members. Eventually, Frankenstein chases the creature across Europe to the Arctic Circle, where he embraces him as his son on his deathbed.
The musical is by Mark Baron, Jeffrey Jackson and Gary P. Cohen. For the Majestic’s production, musical direction will be provided by Heather MacRobie.
“This is a show people will watch and then be talking about for a long time,” Dionne said.