A. J. Holmes, the actor who plays Dr. Frederick Frankenstein in Theater League’s touring company of Young Frankenstein, “fell in love with all the Mel Brooks movies” when he was in middle school. “Gene Wilder was my hero,” he told me by phone from a tour stop in Olympia, Washington. “When I got this role, I didn’t want to copy him, but I also knew that there were certain lines that I had to do just the way he did, because that’s what the audience wanted.” Could he give me an example? You bet he could. “What knockers!” Holmes replied, laughing. “That one has to be done just the same as in the movie; the audience demands it.” For Holmes, who graduated from the University of Michigan’s musical-theater program last spring, the role and the experience of touring with the show are a dream come true, albeit a dream that involves a lot of work. “I think I am in every scene in the first act” he said, “but it gets me warmed up quickly.” In addition to his university training, the Agoura Hills native has also had a remarkable degree of viral success with YouTube videos. (Check them out via teamstarkid.com.)
The cast and crew have already been on the road for more than 100 shows, and Holmes eagerly praised the audiences they have encountered in some of the smaller venues, saying that “it’s been a lot of fun going places where people are grateful for a chance to see a real Broadway musical. Even if half the set is cut, they love the excitement of a full production.” No such cuts will be necessary at the Granada, where every piece of Young Frankenstein’s elaborate original Broadway set will be in operation. Here are three reasons to check it out next Tuesday and Wednesday, February 28 and 29. For tickets and information, call (805) 899-2222 or visit granadasb.org.
1) It’s Alive! Not only is the movie’s most famous catch phrase being included in the show, but many of the original jokes have been jolted to life by being turned into whole musical numbers.
2) It’s Choreographed: By five-time Tony winner Susan Stroman no less. Stroman’s work on The Producers, which was the first Mel Brooks movie to be turned into a musical, won her two Tonys, one for the choreography, and the other for directing.
3) It’s Electrifying: Dr. Frankenstein’s onstage lab includes a real Tesla coil. How shocking!