Billy Fennelly's new Off Broadway musical Frankenstein reworks Mary Shelley's famed novel into a story featuring a Plutarch-reading, emotive humanoid rather than the lumbering oaf of pop-culture fame. Frankenstein lead Hunter Foster (whose sister, Sutton, is starring in Young Frankenstein at this very moment, a coincidence that Hunter dismisses as “funny” but unremarkable) spoke to Vulture about his role as the not-so-mad scientist who tries to outsmart death and finds himself running from his own creation.
What was your notion of Frankenstein before you took this role?
The 1970 miniseries was the first incarnation of Frankenstein I ever saw. It touted itself as being the true story from the Mary Shelley novel, but it was so far from it. They created the creature with sunlight as opposed to electricity, and his friend was the brains behind the whole thing. It made no sense!
There have been so many different versions over the years. Why do you think we find the story so compelling?
It has a lot of relevancy with what’s happening today. People are afraid of and enticed by the possibility of bringing people back from the dead. There’s something horrible about it, but on the flip side, kind of enticing. We’re fascinated and horrified at the same time. It’s very similar to the idea of cloning.
You starred in Little Shop Horrors before this. Do you like sharing the stage with monsters?
Apparently, I do. But that was a more campy than this. They both have this horror element to them, but this show is more a play with music. In a way, Little Shop of Horrors is kind of a spoof on plays like this anyways, and the B-movie genre.
Do you guys go out and celebrate after shows? Karaoke?
We do go to the Zipper nearby sometimes, but it’s hard to go out. I have to make sure not to do anything to my voice. It’s a really draining, taxing role.
What’s been the biggest hurdle the cast has encountered thus far?
Convincing people that this isn’t Young Frankenstein. They think it’s going to be a spoof.
And your sister Sutton Foster is starring in Young Frankenstein! Any sibling rivalry?
No. But it is funny
Has the stagehand strike affected the production at all?
We were sold out over the weekend! People were trying to find something to see when they’re in town, and they came to see us. Not that I want the strike to continue — I have friends who are out of work — but the strike was on, and people were wondering what to see. We’re kind of a Broadway show in an Off Broadway house, so they get to see a Broadway show for $400 cheaper than it usually costs. —Annsley Chapman