Cory English, who started out as a dancer before becoming an actor and singer on Broadway, knows that if he doesn't say his lines fast enough, "someone else will."
That's because he's now on national tour for Broadway Across America's production of Young Frankenstein, playing Igor (eye-gor). Turns out there's a lot of people who've memorized the lines of the Mel Brooks film -- now a musical -- and are proud of it.
Audience favorite among Igor's many lines (of course): "What hump?" (Igor has a hump that seems to move from side to side, and that he frequently doesn't acknowledge.)
"If I don't say 'what hump' fast enough, they'll shout it out," English told Hair Balls in a phone interview this week. He says in one show he just knew there was one guy out there in the audience who was ready to say all of his lines. "I even said them faster," he says.
"You know you've got an audience so eager to see it and they want to show anybody that they know the lines," English, who performs in both England and the United States, says, adding that in another 15 years, Young Frankenstein might turn into a Rocky Horror Picture Show complete audience participation experience.
English was living in London and playing the lead role of Max Bialystock in The Producers, another Mel Brooks enterprise, when he learned they were going to do Young Frankenstein. In late 2008, he took over the Igor role on Broadway, replacing the original actor in the role. In September of 2009 he went out on the national tour.
"It's almost an actor's kind of gift to be able to play such a part," he says. "You get to do a limp and you get to wear a hump. Any actor would jump on this part."
And apparently audiences have shown a similar enthusiasm. "It's booked all the way till May 2011," English said. He thinks it's had this huge response for a number of reasons: it's a Mel Brooks (the actor, writer, director and producer) production, the film has a cult following and "it only had a year and a half run on Broadway so not everybody got to New York to see it."
Also, he says, it's one musical that men are willing to see. "The people that are flocking to see it are the husbands who'll say 'hey there honey if you want to go see a musical I'll see this one.' "
English says he gives "tribute" to the late Marty Feldman who originated the role of Igor in the 1974 movie version, but then adds his own flair. "He didn't have to sing any musical numbers," he points out about Feldman's performance.
This is the kind of play in which the fourth wall separating the players and the audience isn't particularly sturdy, according to English. "This piece lends itself to we call them 'free moments.' Roger Bart [who plays Dr. Frederick Frankenstein and who originated the Dr. Frankenstein role on Broadway] and I are more than willing to break that fourth wall. It is a live performance so things can go wrong. We'll let the audience know when it does. I have to say I look forward to those moments. It adds to the material."
Houston audiences should come to Young Frankenstein "if they want to laugh," English says. "If they're looking for a great night out and a good laugh. They'll love it."
Young Frankenstein runs May 25 through June 6 at the Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. Tickets are available at the Hobby Center box office, all Ticketmaster locations, by calling 800-982-2787 or at www.BroadwayAcrossAmerica.com
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