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World premiere stage adaptation of “Gods and Monsters” reimagines Christopher Abram’s iconic novel through the lens of race

IMAGE OF GODS & Monsters, playing at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., through Sunday, June 2. 

Chicago’s Book & Lyrics Theatricals will premiere a new “Gods & Monsters,” a limited engagement, stage adaptation of Christopher Bram’s iconic novel that reframes its storyline through the lens of race, sexuality and dementia makes its world premiere on Sunday, May 12, for a limited engagement through Sunday, June 2, at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. 

Directed by Paul Oakley Stovall and written by Playwright Tom Mullen, the Equity production features an all-star cast, including Norman Woodel, Rashun Carter and Doreen Calderon and an award-winning design and sound team. 

PAUL OAKLEY STOVALL, Director, and Tom Mullen, Playwright. 

Press materials state: “This world premiere adaptation is really going to stand out in Chicago Theatre in 2024.”

Bram, the author of the 1995 novel “Father of Frankenstein”that inspired the script (as well as the movie, which is now celebrating its 25th anniversary), will be conducting a Q+A after the Saturday, May 11, performance.

Bram’s novel—and the poignant, introspective movie starring Ian McKellan and Brendan Fraser that followed two years later (and is now celebrating its silver anniversary)—is a fictionalized account of the last days of James Whale, the director of some of the most classic horror films of all time, namely “Frankenstein” and “Bride of Frankenstein,” as he finds himself beguiled by a handsome, young landscaper named Clayton Boone. 

In this new production, the theme now spirals around race, with Boone being rewritten as a Black man, a choice inspired by Mullen’s research into Whale’s musical “Show Boat” and its casting of Black activist Paul Robeson. The changes have been approved by novelist Bram, who says in a statement that “My story is in excellent hands.” 

DOREEN CALDERON AS Maria Ramirez, left to right, Norman Woodel as James Whale, Rashun Carter as Clay Boone. (Photo credit: David A. Lee).

“The title ‘Gods and Monsters’ almost implies a tale of good and evil, of a benevolent force versus a destructive one,” says Stovall in a 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.”

Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays; 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturdays; and 3 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets can be purchased at or by calling the Theater Wit box office at (773) 975-8150 during business hours. For more information, follow along on social media at @godsandmonstersonstage.

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