This year, “Young Frankenstein” invites North Texans to “walk this way” to watch a hilarious musical interpretation of the classic film Young Frankenstein at two metroplex theatres.
The story follows Frederick Frankenstein, grandson of the original Dr. Frankenstein, who has just inherited his family’s Transylvanian estate and must continue his grandfather’s legacy.
According to NBC 5, Joel Ferrell is the director and choreographer for both performances, one at Theatre Three in Dallas and one at Circle Theatre in Fort Worth. Ferrell has directed multiple North Texas musical productions, including Theatre Three’s 2021 Music Man production, performed in three area parks.
He told NBC 5 that being a choreographer is at his core.
“I think I danced before I walked. Musicals are in constant movement, and that’s how I envision them,” Ferrel said. “It comes naturally.”
He then paints a picture: “I was the kid who came out of the womb singing and dancing. I was spinning and twirling and acting every part as a little kid.”
Ferrell was also the artistic director of Casa Manana Musicals in Fort Worth from 1996 to 2001 and the associate artistic director of Dallas Theater Center from 2011 to 2019.
“I will always be driven by someone saying, ‘I don’t think you can do that.’ It’s like, ‘Ah-ha, I’ve been given a challenge,'” he said.
Ferrell adapted his Young Frankenstein production from the Mel Brooke’s movie, Young Frankenstein, NBC 5 reported. He believed it had the potential to be a small-scale production. So, after analyzing the score and script, Ferrell took the cast down to just eight characters.
“Not everything is like it is in the movie, but they fulfilled all of the things you want fulfilled and then put a cherry on top,” he said.
Ferrell added, “There will be an extra layer of silliness because it is so few people performing it, but in a smaller theater space, doing a Gothic epic comedy will be funny if we can pull it off, so the trick was casting the show.”
He explained that “the cast needed to have the improvisational and musical theater abilities of a really good Saturday Night Live cast,” in addition to being “really good singers and dancers.”
The production will move from Circle Theatre to Theatre Three in the fall. Ferrell explained that letting more than one organization benefit from the same show is part of his business model. It also allows more opportunities for North Texans to see the performances.
“I’m trying to encourage theaters in the DFW area to share resources and to share the art because … when theaters in Dallas or Fort Worth produce a show, a tiny amount of the public gets to see it, and then we move on to the next thing.”
He stated that one of the biggest challenges was designing a show that works in both spaces.
“No two theater spaces are the same,” he said. “You really have to be conceptionally shrewd about how to design the show.”