Norbert and Young Frankenstein

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Occasionally, subscribing to New York Magazine gives you a little bit of interesting theatre news. In this week's issue, from a profile with Norbert Leo Butz:
When Buts first got a look at David Ives's reworkign of the Twain play [Is He Dead], he was set to meet with Mel Brooks and Susan Stroman about the lead role of the mad scientist in Young Frankenstein. After playing Freddy Benson in Scoundrels (and relegating John Lithgow to straight-man status), it was the obvious move, professionally and artistically. Butz's crack timing, his bawdy, maniacal leer, and his newfound dancing skills might have been exactly what Brooks needed to ward off the sniping critics. But Butz had other ideas.
"I never heard a note of the music, never saw a page of the script," he says. "But I thought, I just followed Steve Martin, I really dont' want to follow Gene Wilder right now. And it was really time for me to do a play." So within days of reading for the part, he was committed to playing a death-faking, cross-dressing French painter.

Which explains why Roger Bart, their 10th choice, ended up mugging the part.

Having seen both shows, I applaud Norby's choice.

1 Comment

Given all the accolades for NLB's performance, I think he made the right choice. Whoddathunk a 110 year old Mark Twain vehicle would be so popular?


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