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Local Talent Debuts on Broadway

AJ Holmes
AJ Holmes
AJ Holmes, 23, who headlined as Frederick Frankenstein in last year's production of Young Frankenstein at the Fred Kavli Theater in Thousand Oaks, recently made his Broadway debut in The Book of Mormon. 

"This has been my dream since I was a kid," said the Agoura High School graduate who played Elder Cunningham in July 19th and 20th performances.

Holmes auditioned for the role back in April but never thought he'd be considered.

"I thought it would be a long shot," he said. "I didn't think I was the type."

But Holmes won a role as an understudy for the Chicago production, which mean he stands by in case the actor cast in the part can't go on.

It turned out, however, that his talents were needed in New York when the understudy for Elder Cunningham, a Canadian citizen, had to deal with Visa issues.

"So I was called out there for ten days," he said.

When the actor Cody Jamison Strand, who held the role on Broadway, got sick, Holmes was called on stage.

"This is the best character I've ever played," said the theater hyphenate whose original claim to fame was co-writer of the music and lyrics to “A Very Potter Musical,” a parody of the Harry Potter movies, a YouTube sensation.

The Book of Mormon is a religious satire musical written by South Park creators Trey Parker and Robert and Matt Stone with Robert Lopez. The story is about two young, naive Mormon missionaries sent to a remote village in northern Uganda to preach their religion.

Holmes describes his character as the comic relief.

"You can tell [the role] was created with a lot of improv," said Holmes, who was a member of the high school's improvisational group, Comedy Sportz. "I was given a lot of freedom.

Holmes is back in Chicago through October 6; then the show will go on a national tour.

Of his life as an understudy, Holmes said he has to be ready on a moment's notice.

"I've literally had to take over in the middle of a performance," he said. 

Holme's parents, who have been actively involved with the Conejo Players Theater, told Patch they are very proud of their son.

"He's certainly living his dream," James Holmes wrote in an email.  "And we get to take lots of mini vacations trying to see him in all his shows! Ain't life grand!"

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