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Frankenstein, Karloff, and Spike the Mutant

September 3rd, 2021

“I was euphoric in June. Look where we are now.” So begins a new essay in the New York Times that considers how the summer we hoped for got preempted by Covid-Delta. That’s the thing with monsters. You can never be sure they’re gone for good.

Cartoon by Dana Summers, Copyright 2021 Tribune Content Agency, from The Week.

Take the creature in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. He ends the 1818 novel by promising to vanish forever, but then – after leaping onto an ice floe in the frozen north, he returns again five years later in the Richard Brinsley Peake stage adaptation titled Presumption: or the Fate of Frankenstein. And then, after Peake dispatches the creature in an avalanche, the monser continues to return in countless stage-and-film adaptations.

All of which just goes to show, you can’t keep a good monster down.

Alas, the same is true for real-world monsters like Covid-Delta. A few months ago, it seemed we were moving on from the coronavirus, so much so that the good people at Prime Stage Theatre officially announced that my new adaptation of Shelley’s novel would premiere November 5 at Pittsburgh New Hazlett Theatre. But now, in a scenario that sounds like the elevator pitch for a Toho monster movie (Frankenstein vs The Mutant Spiked Protein), it appears covid is back with enough vengeance to force a delay.

Poster art for Toho’s 1965 release Frankenstein vs Baragon. (Yes, it’s a real movie.) 

Here’s the official press release from Prime Stage announcing their revised 2021 season.

To ensure safety for our patrons, actors and staff, we have changed our originally scheduled large-cast production of Frankenstein to a oneactor playKARLOFF The Man and The Monster. Frankenstein is rescheduled to be produced in November 2022.

This is a proactive measure to limit exposure to the COVID19 coronavirus. Given the uptick of cases, we believe caution for the balance of the year remains appropriate.

On November 5th, Prime Stage Theatre will present KARLOFF The Man and The Monsterwritten by Randy Browser and directed by Art DeConciliis. Tickets to this show and our entire season will go on sale soon.

This will be our first inperson performance at the New Hazlett Theater since March 14, 2020, when we had to close The Outsiders due to Covid19 and present Prime Online streaming for our 24th Season.

KARLOFF is an original oneactor production where the famous cinema favorite Boris Karloff comes to life.

This multi-media oneact experience traces the origins of Karloff’s career and carries the audience into his rise as one of the most renowned movie monster actors and stage actors of all time.

And so we’re going to have to wait a little longer for our Frankenstein to premiere.

Nevertheless, in the meantime, Prime Stage is planning a virtual event titled Beyond the Imagination, during which I will be joining Director Art DeConciliis and Producing Artistic Director Wayne Brinda for a conversation about all things Frankenstein. The free event is scheduled to take place on October 4 at 7:00 PM.

In addition, also on October 4, we’ll be launching the third season of the podcast Prime State Mystery Theatre, with new episodes dropping each Thursday through the beginning of November. Our new story, which takes place in a theatre during a production of Frankenstein, will invite listeners to follow clues that involve trap doors, a devil’s portal, and a roster of eccentric characters – some of whom may not be entirely what they seem.

Looking farther ahead, I hope to produce a couple more Frankenstein-themed stories for Mystery Theatre between now and the play’s new release in 2022.

We’ll get there, and when we do, I trust you’ll find it was all worth the wait. After all, you can’t keep a good monster down.