‘Frankenstein’: An Oral History of a Monstrous Broadway Flop, Exactly 40 Years Ago

“When the curtain went up at the Palace Theater on Jan. 4, 1981, the expectations — and the stakes — were high. Frankenstein, an adaptation of Mary Shelley’s novel, had cost a reported $2 million, at the time a record for a Broadway play. The screen legend John Carradine and a young Dianne Wiest were in the cast, and the unprecedented stage effects came courtesy of Bran Ferren, the wunderkind behind the mind-bending hallucinations in the film Altered States, released two weeks earlier.’ But the reviews were so awful that the producers closed the show the next morning, putting Frankenstein in an exclusive club: Broadway one-night wonders. – The New York Times

Lamenting A Brave Little Theater And Its Big Shakespeare Cycle, Both Killed By COVID

Over the course of this year and next, Brave Spirits Theater in Alexandria, Va. was going to be “first professional American theater company to mount full productions of Shakespeare’s two history play tetralogies” — that’s Richard II, Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 and Henry V, then Henry VI Parts 1, 2, and 3 and Richard III — “and perform them in repertory.” Maya Phillips was going to report on it all; as she begins her account, “I’ve written several versions of this story. …” – The New York Times

The Generosity Of A Playwright Who Earned Some Unexpected Money

This isn’t exactly a normal year for any playwright, and indeed, Jeremy O. Harris of the multiple-Tony-nominated Slave Play has earned little from his plays. But fashion collaborations and HBO came through – and Harris is coming through for others in return, including numerous “microgrants” to 152 U.S.-based playwrights. “In dire times, he believes, everyone should be committed to ‘protecting, uplifting and sharing,’ adding: ‘Some might call it philanthropy, but I call it upkeep or maintenance.'” – The New York Times

By The Pronouns, Who Designs And Directs In Major Regional Theatres?

Well … yes, it’s mostly he/him types. But also, 2020 was a real career killer. “Most designers, just like most artists in the field, have no work right now. They are hanging on by their fingertips. They have been forgotten or ignored by most of the theatres that called themselves ‘artistic homes’ for the artists. Many theatre designers I know are considering leaving the theatre—not just until it comes back, but forever—or have already left for good.” – HowlRound

Broadway Fans Are Creating Entire Musicals On TikTok

Just three months after she posted it, TikTokers had conjured up an entire “Ratatouille” musical universe. A composer spiced up her song with Disney-fied orchestrations. Songwriters whipped up tunes for Remy, his brother, his dad, his fellow chef, the food critic Anton Ego. A director explained how he’d stage the show. Dancers demonstrated how they’d dance it. A puppeteer showed how he’d puppet it. A designer created a breathtaking Playbill, in a video that’s been seen nearly 5 million times. Stagehands, ushers, photos of the Broadway marquee — all of it materialized. – Washington Post

Upright Citizens Brigade Closes Yet Another Theater

“Almost exactly eight months after the closure of their [last remaining] New York venue and improv training center, the Upright Citizens Brigade has announced the end of their Sunset Theater in Los Angeles.” The company’s four founders (Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts, Matt Besser, and Matt Walsh) said in their Twitter announcement, “We have been unable to make mortgage payments during this extended shutdown.” – Vulture