Father and son duo Brooks and Brandon Adams will bring the main characters of the Averitt Center’s production of “Young Frankenstein” to life this month on the Emma Kelly stage.
For Brandon, who just finished his sophomore year at Georgia Southern, this will be his seventh production with his father, and their fifth at the Averitt. Brooks has appeared in 35 productions at the Averitt since 2012. He says some of his favorite roles include Daddy Warbucks in “Annie,” Ebenezer Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol,” and Corny Collins in “Hairspray.”
Brooks’ wife, Danielle has also shared the stage with them, and is choreographing the current production. Their daughter Darien is also an actress and a dancer, and son Jake has been a stage hand in some of his dad’s shows.
For the production this month, Brandon will take on the role of Dr. Frankenstein, while Brooks will play the monster himself. He calls the show a high watermark for both of them.
“We were both cast in “Young Frankenstein” in 2016, but outside issues forced the show to be cancelled until this year. The original movie is one of my favorite films, and Brandon and I have both enjoyed it several times,” he said.
Of acting, Brandon says he just kind of fell into it, after watching his dad.
“I saw him doing all of these shows, and I enjoyed it, but I didn’t quite understand it at first. I didn’t see myself doing that,” he said.
But during his high school years at Statesboro High, he joined the drama class, taught by Eddie Frazier, and he wound up doing several shows and he found that he liked it. He says eventually his dad “kind of forced” him into trying out for a show with him. He got a role in “A Christmas Carol.”
For Brooks, it all started with “The Nutcracker.” Darien was dancing in the show, and he was asked to take on the role of a party parent, and he said he figured he could handle standing still and letting people dance around him. This led to some other roles, which he says was purely by accident.
“The first time I stepped on a stage, I was 40. I had never done anything like that before. And I haven’t stopped since,” he says, smiling.
Both men truly enjoy acting on stage.
“There is a very strange thing about my brain,” Brandon said. “Day to day stuff terrifies me. It makes no sense. I could go into Subway and they ask me what kind of bread I want, and I trip over my words. But whenever I’m working on a play, all that noise in my head, it just quiets down.”
Acting, he adds, just makes sense to him and is “just natural.” He also enjoys the sense of community and the camaraderie between the cast.
“It’s the easiest way I’ve ever connected with anyone,” he added.
For Brooks, it’s become a great way to deal with his anxiety. He says he struggles with the one-on-one with people.
“But on stage, give me a room full of 350 people, and I feel more connected there than I do just about anywhere else,” he said.
Getting into a character — really inhabiting that character — is a process that he really enjoys.
“When you’re on stage and you do something funny and people laugh, it’s kind of a rush,” Brooks said.
Brandon says that when he prepares for a role sometimes, well, he doesn’t.
“Sometimes I just look at the script and part of my brain just says I know what this character sounds like. And then at some point, I’ve accidentally memorized all of my lines, and then it’s time to go on,” he said.
Other times, he says he spends a lot of time with the script, and he researches previous interpretations of the role.
“I just really mine for inspiration, and I take bits and pieces of everything I can find and then I say, OK, here’s what I’m going to do,” he said. “Whatever comes out is my own brand of Frankenstein monster.”
The father and son spend a lot of time together watching movies and the actors in them.
“We really watch the characters, what they do and how they are played. We follow actors and actresses to see their performances and what they do and how they do it,” Brooks said.
As for his take on Frankenstein, “My monster is going to be my monster,” he said.
Brandon says that for his role, it’s a little tricky.
“This is Gene Wilder’s role, and I’m just borrowing it,” he said, adding that he doesn’t want to do an impression of him, as he feels that would be disrespectful. “It’s about finding the balance of what he does and applying it to myself.”
Brooks calls watching Peter Boyle in that same Mel Brooks film with Wilder a master class in acting, and he adds that Brooks is a genius writer and director.
“He makes us laugh, but he put a lot of work into that role,” he said of Boyle. “Yes, it’s a comedy, but there’s also a lot of substance there for me to find and plug into. It enabled me to play with my own anxiety, and I am going to try to humanize the monster a little.”
Of their fellow cast members, Brooks says they all seem to love the original film as much as he does.
“This is a cast, I’d say, of only people who love this script, who love this movie and want to do it justice. This time around, everyone wants to be there, everyone wants to do their best, and it’s showing,” he said. “We have some heavyweight talent that just wanted to be a part of this thing.”
The main thing, both men say, is that they hope audiences will appreciate their take on the classic.
“I hope they enjoy us for what we’ve brought to the table,” Brandon said. “It’s just a little beyond, oh I got to see ‘Young Frankenstein’ again. It will be, I got to see it again with these people and they made it worth it.”
“I hope we make (the experience) richer; I hope we make it better. I hope people enjoy it and I hope people come back to the Averitt Center based on what they see,” he said.
The rest of the main cast includes Eric Mims (Igor), Isabel Vicens (Inga), Ashley Horton (Elizabeth Benning), Christie McLendon (Frau Blücher), Alan Tyson (Inspector Kemp), Jamey Saunders (The Hermit), Bunyan Morris (Betram Batram) and Thom Mortimer (Felix).
Catch “Young Frankenstein” Oct. 13-15 at 7:30 p.m., or Oct. 16 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $25, and can be purchased online at www.averittcenterforthearts.org, or by calling 912-212-2787.