young-frankenstein.jpgMeet Sam Ellis, Broadway’s esteemed “technical wizard”, who is in charge of all the myriad effects in Young Frankenstein, which is rumored to have cost between $16 million and $20 million – about twice the price of the average Broadway musical. A big part of that budget was poured into making the adaptation “more zowie!” than the movie. According to a profile in Christian Science Monitor, some of Ellis’s responsibilities include overseeing:

  • A Tesla coil that emits 3 million volts of electricity in the form of spiraling red light, exploding sparks parks and neon lights that flash like a circus arcade.
  • A 24-foot-tall puppet that assembles itself from huge fiberglass body parts.
    400 lights.
  • 12 different set locations.
  • 18 pieces of scenery that fly on and off stage.
  • Props such as automated trees that zip in and out on a motorized chassis.
  • 12 stories of steps, fog machines and lightning bolts.

And that’s not even the entire job description, which Ellis says makes "me feel like I'm juggling croquet balls which hurt when they hit you in the head.” That’s understandable, especially considering a mishap he endured during another unnamed production, in which stagehands bobbled a 2,000-pound fish tank they were moving off stage. It shattered, causing “a mini-tidal wave and flooding the sound system.” Though considering yesterday's deliciously derisive Times's pan – headlined "Who Put the Trance in Transylvania?" – an accident like that might give the show a desperately needed jolt of surprise.