Monster Maker – Billy Butler
After years of work with Players Ring, The Music Hall and the Palace Theatre, culminating with a couple of New Hampshire Theatre Awards for “Best Actor in a Musical,” it’s safe to say Billy Butler has left his mark on the local theatre scene. He’s now trying to make it in old New York, New York, and some things have been breaking his way. He scored and co-wrote a play with the million-dollar title “The Gay Bride of Frankenstein,” and interest in the project is such that he was invited to stage it as an official selection for the New York Musical Theatre Festival, Sept. 28 to Oct. 11. And, as if mixing musical theatre with rock and roll and comic book art and tossing in a topical “gay marriage” reference wasn’t enough to raise a few hackles, the play earned headlines for a few news cycles when a member of the casting crew was caught Twittering catty remarks during auditions. The fallout from that has settled, and now the cast list is loaded with enough Broadway names to suggest that when they flip the switch to start the show, somewhere you’ll hear a mad scientist’s voice exclaim: “It’s alive!”
<b>So you survived “Twittergate.”</b> Yeah, I’m OK, just a week behind on everything after having had to serve as my own press agent and play Mr. No Comment.
<b>Tell me something about “The Gay Bride of Frankenstein.”</b> Well, the play is half live, half animation. Think “Sweeny Todd” meets “Tank Girl.”
<b>Animated? You mean some characters are animated?</b> Yep. We have an animation consultant who works with Disney. He worked on “Aliens in the Attic.” He nearly peed when he saw what we were doing with animation in this play.
<b>Cool concept. Is it a first?</b> I’ve never heard of anyone doing it on stage before.
<b>What inspired the play?</b> Dane (Leeman, co-writer) and I just sat down and said, “Let’s write a musical.” There was no musical for Halloween so we started looking for books we might adapt. Then we realized it’s so much easier just to write our own story. It’s all based on our favorite B movies and horror films.
<b>How are people reacting to the title?</b> Well, the play has so many layers to it and so does the title. The word “gay” has a stigma, but, you know, it originally meant “happy.” That’s what people have forgotten. Some people have advised us to change the title, but if I heard someone say, “With a title like that it can’t be any good,” I don’t want that person coming to my show.
<b>You’ve got some great actors on board. What if it’s a hit?</b> The long-term goal is to make a film out of it. If we get the right people behind it, it could be incredible. But right now, we’re just trying to get it out there in New York.
<b>I hear you are still writing music.</b> You never stop working on a play like this. “Spring Awakening” took something like 15 years to get to Broadway. I think we’re a little farther along than most.
<b>Visit www.gaybrideoffrankenstein.com for details and photos.</b>