Fun Dr. Frankenstein 

The only fog to frolic in this summer is in the moors of Transylvania Heights. But Roger Bart wouldn’t have it any other way.

Bart has been touring in the Broadway musical “Young Frankenstein,” which opens in The City on Wednesday. Reprising the role of Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, which he originated on Broadway, the actor says he’s “having a blast.”

“Fortunately, it allows people to see me other than [murderous pharmacist] George from ‘Desperate Housewives’ — I got that creepy vibe for a while,” he laughs. “I may never work again. But I did get a lot of compliments.”

Bart has turned heads many times for his unabashed ability to make any character he’s playing — on stage or screen — believable. There’s a genuine verve and intensity to his work, whether he’s dipping into drama or comedy.

Basically, there’s a “there” there.

As for the touring show, it is, of course, based on the 1974 Oscar-nominated Mel Brooks gem that sent Gene Wilder’s celebrity soaring, among other things.

The stage hit chronicles Frederick Frankenstein — brain surgeon, professor, New Yorker — who inherits a castle and lab from his grandfather. The dilemma? He worries whether he should continue his grandfather’s mad experiments.

Misadventures ensue.

No doubt the production, directed by Susan Stroman, with a book by Brooks and Thomas Meehan, will be marveled for its wild score. Brace yourself for tunes like “The Transylvania Mania,” “He Vas My Boyfriend” and what has to be the most original, unforgettable redux of Irving Berlin’s “Puttin’ On the Ritz.”

Of Brooks, whom Bart delivered for in “The Producers” on Broadway (in the roles of Carmen Ghia and later Leo Bloom) the actor says the icon has always been an inspiration.

“Mel speaks to me the same way [the artistry in] those old Mel Blanc cartoons did,” he muses. “Mel was inspired by vaudeville and Catskills comedies and I understood those rhythms — what it took to make that stuff work. I mean, with Mel’s work, you can’t go up and tap the bell. You have to go up and ring it. There’s a certain amount of commitment you have to
bring.

“It’s a grand kind of shtick that is unique to an era,” he adds. “But it’s still very much a part of the comic rhythms of our culture.”


IF YOU GO
Young Frankenstein

Where:
Golden Gate Theatre, 1 Taylor St., San Francisco
When: Opens Wednesday; 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays; 2 p.m. Wednesdays, Saturdays-Sundays; closes July 25
Tickets: $30 to $99
Contact: (415) 512-7770; www.shnsf.com

About The Author

Staff Report

Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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