Chicago's Gods and Monsters Stage Play Finds Full Cast, Creative Team | Playbill

Chicago News Chicago's Gods and Monsters Stage Play Finds Full Cast, Creative Team

Paul Oakley Stovall and Tom Mullen are bringing a version of Frankenstein screen director James Whale's life to the stage that puts more focus on race.

Full casting and creative team have been revealed for Theatre Wit's upcoming world-premiere stage adaptation of Gods and Monsters, based on Christopher Bram's 1995 novel Father of Frankenstein and its 1998 screen version.

The Chicago company will present the work, penned by Tom Mullen, beginning May 9 ahead of a May 12 opening night, with the limited run continuing through June 12. Paul Oakley Stovall is directing.

Norman Woodel will lead the company as James Whale, opposite Rashun Carter as Clayton Boone, newly reimagined in this adaptation as a Black man. The cast will also include Doreen Calderon as Maria Ramirez, Michael Stejskal as David Lewis, and Ethan Check as Edmund Kay. Rounding out the company as understudies will be Steve McDonagh, Kejuan Darby, Mayra Echevarri, Rick Adams, and Ryan Christopherson. Casting is by Christopher Pazdernik.

The mostly fictionalized story centers on the final days of real-life film director James Whale, noted for his work on the classic horror films Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein, along with the first full screen adaptation of the Broadway musical Show Boat. The work tracks the director as his health is failing while simultaneously falling for a young landscaper, Clayton Boone. Whale was openly gay throughout his career, a trailblazer ahead of his time.

The shift for the fictional character of Boone was inspired by Mullen's research into Whale's Show Boat and its casting of Black activist Paul Robeson as Joe. Going back to Bram's novel after changes were made for the 1998 film version, Mullen's take will also depict Whale's housekeeper as a Mexican immigrant, part of a larger goal to bring race to the center of the story while exploring how Whale's homosexuality helped to unlock the then-uncommon empathy for outsiders and the oppressed that is present in his screen work. The changes have been approved by Bram, who says in a statement that "[m]y story is in excellent hands."

The production will feature scenic design by Ben Lipinski, lighting design by Jennifer Kules, projections by Michael Tutaj, sound design by André Pluess, costume design by Marquecia Jordan, props by Ellen Markus, and fight and intimacy direction by Charlie Baker. Michael Sobie has composed an original score.

"The title Gods and Monsters almost implies a tale of good and evil, of a benevolent force versus a destructive one," said Stovall in an earlier statement. "But what draws me to this story is that it’s all about the places in between. It’s about what’s just under the surface in all of us and how people who can seem so different are always so very similar because we are all made of the same star stuff. We live in the same world, and we want the same things."


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