Two national tours and productions in eight countries, along with a Las Vegas run, netted an additional $1 billion for Brooks’ adaptation of his 1968 film. Add in records for the most Tony Award nominations (15) and most awards received (12) and what do you have? A tremendous amount of pressure for whatever comes next.

Since it opened last November at New York City’s Hilton Theatre, Brooks’ adaptation of “Young Frankenstein” has faced lukewarm reviews, along with criticism about its ticket prices and the decision not to follow a long-standing tradition of reporting box-office grosses to the trades.

Pollstar recently got the opportunity to speak with Brooks. In the first half of our interview Mel talks about translating the beloved film for the stage and some of the difficulties he faced getting it there.

Brooks said he was initially hesitant to adapt “Young Frankenstein,” even though the success of “The Producers” made it inevitable he would do another musical.

“You know, ‘The Producers’ was such an enormous hit, almost from opening night, that many people kept saying, ‘You gotta do another one!'” Brooks told Pollstar. “They all wanted ‘Blazing Saddles.’ Nobody mentioned ‘Young Frankenstein’ because they thought it was black and white and maybe a little too dour.”

While he agreed that another musical was probably a good idea, Brooks said his first plan was to do an original piece in the style of “a Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Edward Everett Horton, Eric Blore mixup.” Then while he was walking to lunch one day, inspiration struck.

“I’m walking and I’m singing, ‘He vas my boyfriend!’ I don’t know where it came from. And I was breaking myself up with all kinds of ‘He would knock me to the floor! He would call me dirty whore, but I didn’t give a damn! He vas my boyfriend!”

Brooks was so amused by the song he finished writing it so he could perform it for friends at parties. When he was done, he found that he had a solid start for adapting “Young Frankenstein,” so he wrote a second song, “Please Don’t Touch Me,” based on the late Madeline Kahn’s hysterical turn as Elizabeth in the film.

Realizing he was now “in it,” he called writer Tom Meehan with whom he had collaborated on the producers and the pair set to work creating what Meehan described as “a gothic opera” – a task that wasn’t without its problems.

“I thought we would do it in two months,” Brooks said. “Two and a half years later – because I didn’t want it to be the movie and yet I wanted the movie to be its cornerstone and its base.

“How do you open up and make this movie gorgeously theatrical – outrageously theatrical – and not tear the beautiful structure? It’s the best movie I’ve ever done – both writing and directing, with the help of Gene Wilder.”

Brooks and Meehan finished the show, but then right before it was to start rehearsals, it suffered a pair of setbacks. First Kristin Chenoweth, who was originally slated to play the role of Elizabeth Benning, bowed out to take a role in the television series “Pushing Daisies.” That problem was solved when Brooks got a call from Megan Mullally‘s agent, which led to her taking on the part.

Then the St. James Theatre, where the show was planned to open, became unavailable. Brooks said that turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

“‘The Pirate Queen’ was closing at the Hilton Theatre, which was big enough backstage to house this gorgeous show. It’s a big show…you’ve got Fredrick Frankenstein’s laboratory. So thank God we got the Hilton, because we never could have squeezed this show into the St. James.”

As a matter of fact, Brooks said the size of the show is complicating plans to take it on the road.

“When we’re thinking of touring now, we’ve gotta knock out any house that can’t hold that laboratory, because we don’t wanna short change people. It’s such a great set. So many things happen. We just had a meeting about how to book it.

“Each town has one or two theatres. So, once you’ve got a company and you’ve got trucks and you’ve got a bass drum, or whatever, you’ve gotta figure out how to go from one town to another and not wait for a bigger theatre to be available. So it’s a logistical nightmare. But it can be done.”

Don’t look for “Young Frankenstein” at a theatre near you anytime soon though, because Brooks learned a thing or two with “The Producers.”

“We were a little too – my mother, who was a funny, great lady – I’d say, ‘Can we sit down and eat?’ And she’d say, ‘No you’re too previous.’ So we were a little too previous with ‘The Producers’ because we were only open a year when we went out.

“It’s better to let them come in from other cities to Broadway. Even though we were running at the same time – we ran for six years on Broadway. But still we packed the Broadway theatre. Those people from Cleveland that can come into New York, lets get ’em into New York. Those people from Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, let’s get ’em into New York. Then, the people that can’t come to New York – and there are millions of them – then we’ll take the show to them. So I think we would wait a year, certainly over a year, maybe two years before we went out on the road.”

Brooks also has his doubts about ever launching a Las Vegas version of the show.

“‘The Producers’ is in Las Vegas. It’s been there over a year. I think it’s closing in February. For a book show, Las Vegas has got a strange sensibility, you know? It’s like French clowns diving into what you think is water and being worried. It’s those kind of shows. Mostly the town is covered by these French Canadians who do these ‘Cirque du Soliel‘ [shows]. And audiences have been spoiled, because for roughly 70 or 80 minutes, they watch this.

“You know, a book show is hard to cut down to 90 minutes. I was able to do it with ‘The Producers,’ 95 minutes, and I don’t think I can cut ‘Young Frankenstein’ down and still give the audience the show it was intended to be.

“So Vegas is problematic. I’m not sure about playing Las Vegas. I don’t know if their sensibility would allow a big book show like this. I understand ‘Phantom’ isn’t doing that well and we’re kind of ‘Phantom’ with big laughs. I don’t think there’s any laughs in ‘Phantom.'”

In part two of Pollstar‘s interview, coming tomorrow, Brooks addresses some of the criticisms and negative perceptions the show has faced since it opened.