As is the habit of late, the musical Young Frankenstein is another of many recent film to stage adaptations. Opening in Seattle in 2007, Young Frankenstein found its way to Broadway the same year. It opened to mixed reviews. Mel Brooks, the famed wonder of Hollywood, wrote the book and the music based on his 1974 film of the same name. The 1974 film, starring Gene Wilder, is a parody of Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein. The story is that of the film with some sections altered to include songs. A young Dr. Frankenstein travels to Transylvania to get the estate of family in order once he inherits it. From here, the story runs the gamut with a monster, an Igor, and women fighting for the affections of Dr. Frankenstein. Largely humorous, the film was very well received and is still a cult classic today. The musical, however, not so much. The New York Post called it “ho-hum” and not “hummable.” Despite the mixed reviews, it still earned itself multiple Tony awards in 2008 and brought in an audience simply because it was based on Brooks’ film.
This says something about adaptation. This musical could fall into the category of adaptation for profit. As we discussed in class, sometimes people turn one medium into another carrying the same message to simply make a profit (nail colors and clothing lines based on films, for example). This could be the case because Brooks knew that America loved his film and its story. The same could be said of the opposite, however, that Brooks developed it to bring a new light to the same story and give his audience a new way to see Dr. Frankenstein and his friends. The purpose of adaptation seems to be all in the eye of beholder.