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NBC may have kicked off the recent spate of live television musicals, but that doesn't mean that other networks can't get in on the fun. And, that's just what happened when Fox and, last year, ABC stepped up to the plate. ABC gave us The Little Mermaid Live! early last November, and the Disney-affiliated network has already decided on what its next project will be: the very unexpected Young Frankenstein.
The news about Young Frankenstein came out of the Television Critics Association winter press tour, which is going on right now, and, if you're a fan of the classic Mel Brooks movie or live TV musicals in general, you'll be glad to know that we don't have to wait a full year until we get to feast our eyes on the production. Young Frankenstein will hit ABC sometime this fall, and will be produced by original mastermind Brooks. This version of the story will be based on the Broadway musical and feature the songs that Brooks wrote for the play.
If you're in the dark on all things Young Frankenstein, no worries, that's why we're here! Mel Brooks' film was released in 1974 and starred Gene Wilder as Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, a lecturing professor at an American medical school who's trying to distance himself from his infamous grandfather, Victor, who created the well-known monster many years prior. But, after he inherits his family's estate in Transylvania, he decides to carry on his grandfather's legacy and create his own re-animated man.
Mel Brooks' horror comedy serves as a parody of both the classic horror movies of the 1930s and the previous film adaptations of Mary Shelley's novel. Young Frankenstein was even filmed in black and white, and used some of the same props that had been created for the 1931 film version of the story, as well as having a period-style score and using opening credit and scene transition styles that were employed back then.
As you can probably tell, Young Frankenstein made quite an impact when it was released. The movie was an unquestionable hit, garnering much critical acclaim and making over $86 million against a $2.78 million budget. Young Frankenstein has gone on to grace many top movie lists and is widely considered one of the funniest films ever made. So, it shouldn't surprise you to know that Mel Brooks turned his own film into a musical.
Young Frankenstein opened on Broadway in November 2007 and ran through January 2009, and while that's certainly not the longest run of any Broadway musical, the production was nominated for three Tony Awards and starred well-known performers such as Megan Mullally, Andrea Martin, Sutton Foster and Tony winner Roger Bart.
Considering ABC's connection with Disney, and the success that came with The Little Mermaid Live!, it's rather surprising that those at the network didn't decide to go with another animated film to live musical story. I have to say, though, that I like the different tack that's being taken with this one. There's no reason why every live TV musical needs to cater so obviously to kids and families.