Play the roles
The show’s human stars included John Carradine in his final stage role as a blind beggar.
GIALANELLA Carradine had made such crap B-movies, commercials. He was an old man, but he still had that deep, rich whiskey voice. During the preview, Joe rented a screening room and showed us “Frankenstein” and “Bride of Frankenstein”. [from 1935, in which Carradine had an uncredited bit part]. Somebody turned to him and said, “This is such a great movie. What do you remember? “He stood there for a minute and said,” Two days of work. “
CARRIE ROBBINS, costume designer His hands were so covered with arthritis that he couldn’t get dressed. I had a nice little chest of drawers that could hide in the “fireplace” of the old man’s hut and help him.
The role of Victor Frankenstein went to William Converse-Roberts, a Yale Drama School graduate who would make his Broadway debut. After extensive auditions from other actors, the part of the creature went to Keith Jochim, who had started the role in St. Louis.
GIALANELLA Nobody made it. I went to Joe and said, “You have to bring Keith in.” They didn’t mean to do it. They wanted someone with at least New York credibility.
MARTORELLA Keith’s audition was incredibly moving. We had 10 minutes and he read for half an hour. Then he came back that afternoon in the make-up he had designed [for St. Louis]. I wrote in my diary: “He was totally turned into a bunch of horror.” I can still see the faces of Tom, Joe, and Victor. They were in awe.
The show began loading at the palace on October 23, 1980. The crew started with 15 stagehands that quickly grew to three dozen. The beginning of the preview was delayed by the complexity of Douglas Schmidt’s sets spinning on a giant turntable and problems with effects like the Tesla coil, the full intensity of which was increased as rehearsals progressed.