Touring with Young Frankenstein (stops in town this week and in The Beat's print edition Thursday) takes Shuler Hensley away from home and his family, including his two young children. The family does take opportunities when it can to meet him on weekends.
This weekend should be extra fun for the Hensleys.
“I’ve been playing monsters for so long, Halloween is like our Christmas,” Hensley told The Beat. This year’s Hensley Halloween will be in Columbus, so if you see Frankenstein’s monster, a woman dressed as, say, Madeline Kahn and two young monsters, it just might be them.
Hensley said the other reason he doesn’t mind being on tour is his belief in the show. Despite and lengthy and busy career, this is his first touring production.
“I wanted to do the tour for this show,” he said. (He’d played the monster in the Broadway version as well.) “The Broadway show has some other issues and agendas going on, but one thing was consistent. When I would meet people outside the stage door, they’d all ask when the show was going on tour. They were enjoying it. Everyone knows the show, and they wanted to see it again in their town.”
In his lengthy and busy career, Hensley has made numerous friends in the business, not many as close as Hugh Jackman. Yes, that Hugh Jackman. The two starred in the 1998 London revival of Oklahoma and have maintained a close friendship. They’ve also appeared in numerous other projects together, including the film Van Helsing, in which Hensley also played a Frankenstein monster.
“I’ve really carried him on my back,” Hensley joked. “I don’t mind.”
His career has included successful projects on stage and screen, a balance Hensley likes.
“I love the audience in the theater, when you get that immediate reaction every night. You can’t replace it.”
“But I love the freedom film gives you to experiment, with all the edits and retakes. It’s very rewarding.”