West End Young Frankenstein Star Hadley Fraser on Two Forces of Nature: Mel Brooks & Ramin Karimloo

first_img View Comments Hadley Fraser & Ross Noble in “Young Frankenstein”(Photo: Manuel Harlan) Hadley Fraser needs no introduction as one of the West End’s best and brightest, a talent at home both in musicals (Les Miserables, City of Angels) and the classics (he was Aufidius in 2013 to Tom Hiddleston’s Coriolanus). More recently, he has branched out as co-author of the recent, politically themed Donmar musical Committee… and can now be found leading the London premiere of Mel Brooks’s Young Frankenstein at the Garrick Theatre, alongside such diverse talents as Summer Strallen, Wicked alumna Dianne Pilkington and Tony winner Shuler Hensley. Where else to begin a chat than to discuss working with the venerable legend that is Mr. Brooks himself?Did you ever think you’d be doing a show with a 91-year-old, not least Mel Brooks of all 91-year-olds?It’s remarkable. I think of what I’d like to be doing age 91, seated on a sofa somewhere watching the cricket, and there’s Mel up and at it! He has so much persistence, and I mean that in a very positive way. He wants things to be as perfect as they can possibly be, and he also brings to the job some 70 years of experience. He’s a force of nature.How well did you know Brooks’s 1974 film on which the stage musical is based?I didn’t know it, but watched it on Netflix before my audition and loved it. It’s very easy to dismiss Mel’s comedy as a two-dimensional gagfest, but it is so informed by the material that has gone before it: there’s so much craft in what he does and so much love, as well.Had you been eyeing this particular show?This sort of came out of the blue to a certain extent. I wasn’t expecting it to come through, but I had worked with [producing team] Fiery Angel on the Kenneth Branagh season at the same theater, and they just called me up and asked whether I would come in and talk to the U.K. creative team, and then I went back again for Stro [director-choreographer Susan Stroman] a couple of weeks later.How did Stroman couple her work on this with working alongside Hal Prince on the late-summer New York opening Prince of Broadway?We had a pre-Stro week learning the music and working on a lot of the dance routines, but as soon as Prince of Broadway went into tech, she left that in the very capable hands of Hal Prince and joined us. We’ve had her ever since.Is this musical purely a laugh machine or is there more going on?Well, I wouldn’t want to overstate the case too much; this is musical comedy after all! But as an audience, you have to have somebody to root for, and I was quite keen to find what it would be that might hook the audience emotionally—something The Producers did very very successfully, where you really did care about Max and Leo and their journeys.How have you forged that sense of connection here?I felt quite early on that Fred [Frankenstein’s] journey didn’t quite have the emotional payoff that perhaps it could, so we have a new little song—really only a verse or so—where we sort of finish off Frederick’s story, which is his acceptance of his name, and if there is an underpinning to his story, it’s that. It feels now as if there’s something for the audience to hang their emotional hat on.Were you aware at the time of the Broadway production?Very much so! I was actually in the show [The Pirate Queen] that was in that theater [then called the Hilton] immediately before Young Frankenstein. Obviously, we were hoping our show would run and run so to find myself doing this show 10 years later is just one of those amazing connections that you get in life!What do you think Mel Brooks might have made of the contrastingly serious, events-based musical Committee… that you created with Tom Deering and Josie Rourke for this summer’s premiere at the Donmar?God knows. I think he would have beefed up the gags quite significantly; all the talk about select committees and the workings of British charity might have left him slightly cold.Do you feel as if this year has allowed you to explore the spectrum of musical theater?Looking at my year in microcosm, it really does demonstrate the breadth of what musical theater is about—that you can have flat-out musical comedy like this one, or something more form-challenging or kind of niche and politically engaged like Committee… That show was a helluva learning curve for [composer] Tom Deering and me, and the Donmar is a helluva place as a writer to have your very first show performed.Are you still in touch with your Sheytoons performing and writing partner, Ramin Karimloo?That partnership strikes up every so often, really, and Ramin is perhaps a little more devoted to it than I am: he has a following for that kind of stuff. When we do get together, it feels like a lovely release. We’ve talked about Mel Brooks being a force of nature but so is Ramin, really. I’ve known him since 2002 and just to see his star having risen so brightly and so honestly—he’s such an honest performer—is a real pleasure.Meanwhile, can we expect you to be part of next year’s gender-bending West End revival of Company, which will star your wife, Rosalie Craig, as the first female Bobby—here renamed Bobbi?Do you know what, I’m going to leave Rosie to take the stage on that one! I will probably be on dad duty for the run of the show [the couple has an 11-month-old daughter] so will just be supporting her from the auditorium. It’s such an exciting team and such a beloved show, and I’m as excited as everybody else about it.Have you ever been in Company?The closest I ever came was when I sang “Marry Me A Little” in a production of Putting It Together in 2004 up in Harrogate! At one time it would have been a possibility for me to play Bobby but I’m far happier, frankly, that it’s Rosie playing Bobbi.Do you and your wife ever think about shows you might be in together?There might come a time when the right thing comes alone—Sunday in the Park with George or even Sweeney Todd, or perhaps both. But we’ve not thought about that for the moment; we might when our little girl is a bit more mature.Are there other, more recent Broadway musicals you’re possibly coveting—​The Great Comet, for instance, were it to come over here?I don’t want to sound like I’m flippant or diffident about it and if that comes over, I’d love to do it. But I’m not one of those people who sits there coveting roles; if something’s right, it will come along.last_img read more

SportShorts: Federer roars again, Vettel’s Ferrari ‘no cheaters’

first_imgCRICKETAgarwal hits double ton as India seize control of Bangladesh TestMayank Agarwal struck his second double century in four Tests as India built a giant 343 first innings lead over Bangladesh on day two of their opening Test.The 28-year-old opener, who has hit three tons including two double hundreds in his last five Test innings, hit eight sixes and 28 fours in his 243.Agarwal passed 200 with a six off Mehidy Hasan and went on with his big hits until he was finally caught at deep mid-wicket by Abu Jayed off Mehidy. He left to another standing ovation.India were 493 for six at stumps in response to Bangladesh’s 150 all out on Thursday.Ravindra Jadeja, on 60, and Umesh Yadav, on 25, were at the crease promising more fireworks. – AFP.=============TENNISThe Fed atones for Wimbledon heartbreak Roger Federer produced a near-flawless performance as he avenged his Wimbledon defeat by Novak Djokovic and qualified for the last four of the ATP Finals with a 6-4, 6-3 victory on Thursday.The Swiss started the tournament with a chastening straight-sets defeat to Dominic Thiem but found his best form when it mattered.Defeat for the second seed spells the end of his bid to overtake Rafael Nadal and finish as year-end number one.“Great atmosphere, great opponent,” said Federer, who hit 23 winners and made just five unforced errors. “It was definitely incredibly special. I enjoyed it from the beginning.“I played incredible and I knew I had to because that’s what Novak does. It was definitely magical.” – AFP.=============FORMULA ONEVettel hits back at ‘immature’ Verstappen’s ‘cheating’ claimsSebastian Vettel and his Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc defended their team Thursday, dismissing suggestions that the Italian outfit had done anything suspicious to generate extra engine power this year.Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix, four-time world champion Vettel declined to go into any detail, but made clear his feelings on “cheating” claims made by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in the wake of the United States Grand Prix two weeks ago.“I don’t think there is much to be said about it,” said Vettel. “I think that comment was very immature… I ignore it because it is irrelevant. We want to answer on the circuit.”The German driver added that the Austin race was “not a good weekend for us” and said that “on top of the fact that we have a performing engine, we also have a car that I think is very efficient”. – AFP.For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.last_img read more

Donovan Mitchell puts on a show in his return from injury and leads Jazz past Mavs

first_imgThe Mavs hung around, however, and with the Jazz up 11 with just over two minutes left, Mitchell again came to the rescue as he rose up and sank a 3-pointer from the left angle to give the Jazz breathing room at 112-98.“We ended up riding him in the fourth quarter when the game got a little closer,” said Snyder.Besides Mitchell, the Jazz got good performances from several other players in the victory.Following his 22-point game against Toronto Monday, Alec Burks scored 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting and 4 of 5 from long range in just 15 minutes. Rudy Gobert had a double-double for the 10th time in 11 games this year with 17 points and 10 rebounds, not to mention four blocked shots before he fouled out with 3:16 left in the game.Jae Crowder scored 14, Derrick Favors 13 and although Ricky Rubio struggled — again — with his shooting (3 for 13), he did hand out 12 assists and was praised for his defense by Snyder.Jazz fans got their first look at Mavs rookie Luka Doncic, who impressed with 24 points, including 3 of 4 from 3-point range. Six other Mavs scored in double figures, including Harrison Barnes with 14 and Wesley Matthews with 13, but 39.7 percent shooting hurt their chances. | Don with vicious dunks and a few delectable dimes.23p | 7a | 5r | 2s pic.twitter.com/vqZ8Lmme43— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) November 8, 2018 3 takeaways as the Jazz manhandle the Mavs Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) picks off a pass intended for Dallas Mavericks guard Wesley Matthews (23) at the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018. With the victory, the Jazz improved to 5-6 on the season as they await a visit from the Boston Celtics and Gordon Hayward Friday night before heading out on a five-game road trip.I had to do something a little extra because he was in the building. For all of this to happen to have it come full circle like this is an honor and a blessing. – Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell on the impact of fellow Louisville alum Darrell Griffith’s attendanceThe highlight of the night was Mitchell’s posterizing dunk just before the first-half buzzer when he took the ball out front, made a couple of moves on Luka Doncic, drove past him, wound up and threw down a one-handed dunk over Maxi Kleber. It brought the crowd out of their seats and kept them buzzing through much of halftime.“Because of the ankle, I didn’t think about it,” Mitchell said. “I just went up and it just happened. I wanted to go right, to be honest, but I just made a counter. A lot of times those plays you don’t think, you just do and fortunately it went in.”Then to start the second half, Mitchell came flying down the lane after a missed layup by Joe Ingles to catch the rebound and throw it down with another spectacular dunk.He credited fellow Louisville alum Darrell Griffith, who was on hand for the game as part of the 40-year celebration, for his exciting dunks.“I had to do something a little extra because he was in the building,” Mitchell said afterward with Griffith sitting beside him in the locker room. “For all of this to happen to have it come full circle like this is an honor and a blessing.”A few minutes after the second dunk, Mitchell swished back-to-back 3-pointers from out front as the Jazz pushed the lead to 23 points after leading by as many as 26 in the first half.The Jazz couldn’t stand prosperity, however, and early in the fourth quarter they saw their large lead whittled to nine when they got “distracted,” according to coach Quin Snyder.After the Jazz went nine possessions without a basket, it was Mitchell who pulled the Jazz out of their funk midway through the fourth quarter.First he drove the lane and made a left-handed bank shot. Then he drove and drew a foul and sank both free throws. He drove to the basket a third time and, finding himself face to face with DeAndre Jordan under the hoop, he somehow fired a pass over to the corner to Jae Crowder, who swished a 22-footer to push the lead back to 13. Spenser Heaps, Deseret Newscenter_img Related How Jazz’s Quin Snyder, Raptors’ Nick Nurse became a part of NBA G League history SALT LAKE CITY — Donovan Mitchell was back Wednesday night.And just in time too, as thanks in large part to Mitchell, the Jazz broke their four-game losing streak with a decisive 117-102 victory over the Dallas Mavericks.Mitchell had only missed two of those defeats, the Friday night home loss to Memphis because of a tight hamstring and Monday’s loss to Toronto with a sprained ankle, but he also missed minutes down the stretch of the other two losses with the aforementioned injuries.His presence Wednesday night made a noticeable different as the second-year man from Louisville finished with a terrific line of 23 points, seven assists, five rebounds, two steals and only one turnover. He also had his share of highlight-reel plays, topped by dunks at the end of the first half and at the start of the second half. Ricky Rubio is more concerned with defense than his early shooting woeslast_img read more