Frankly Speaking

Everyone's favorite 8-foot monster prowls the stage

Similarly, Weiss is no stranger to science. Before being seduced by the theater, she was a physics major for two and a half years at the University of Chicago (attending classes in the very room in which elements of the Manhattan Project were first put into place). An inveterate sci-fi reader, Weiss cut her chops on the giants of the genre, such as Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and Robert Heinlein.

"What I've always found most interesting about Frankenstein is that this thing Mary Shelley created is now almost a reality," she says.

Weiss' musical Frankenstein closely follows Shelley's vision, except Victor Frankenstein isn't a mad scientist. He's studying to be a doctor in large measure because of his deep yearning to bring his mother back to life.

It's hard to buy into the notion of Frankenstein as a musical. The thought of the creature singing a song to a blind person ("Love Doesn't Need Eyes to See") or wondering about his sad state of affairs in "How Came I to My Misery" is, on the surface, ripe for parody. Then again, musicals about singing cats and deformed opera singers have proved monster hits, so who the hell knows what's going to work onstage?

If nothing else, this Frankenstein has its ideas in the right place. "The politics and morality of technology is something we deal with every day. . . . And Frankenstein, in its 19th-century way, certainly tries to deal with the morality of technology," Weiss says. "We constantly accuse scientists these days of playing God. And right now we're on this edge of asking: 'Where does science stop? What are the limits? If science gets the power to control every aspect of our physical lives, should it be legislated? If so, who controls it?'"

Which might make a nice number for the production: Victor Frankenstein sings "Why Won't Wall Street Boost My IPO (When I Know I've Got the Keys to Life)?"

The Frankenstein Project at the Sledgehammer Theater, 1620 6th Ave., San Diego, (619) 544-1484. Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m. Through March 7. $10-$15; students, $7.50-$12.50;Frankenstein at the Center Theater, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, (562) 938-4128. Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m. Through March 7. $29-$32.

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