When Jim Hamerlinck turned forty, his girlfriend suggested he try an acting class at a popular Seattle studio.
“I guess you could say that I was a late bloomer,” said the 53-year-old actor during a break in rehearsals for Book-It Repertory Theatre’s production of Frankenstein. “I’m also an inherently shy person. Taking classes at Freehold to learn the craft and then being around smart, creative people in the theater, that’s been a gift.”
Now he has his dream role, the creature cooked up in the laboratory by Frankenstein.
“The popular conception of the creature is Boris Karloff’s portrayal in the movies, the inarticulate zombie. I think that’s how I thought of it as a kid. But when I read the book as an adult, I realized that he’s so much more. I thought if there’s ever a production, that’s a role that I would love to play,” he said.
When Book-It announced that they were doing an adaptation of Mary Shelley’s novel, often cited as the beginning of the science fiction genre, Hamerlinck contacted them.
They thought the actor, who stands 6 feet 5 inches in his stocking feet, had the right physical presence to play the articulate monster as created by Shelley and adapted by director David Quicksall for this production.
The cast also features Connor Toms (Cider House Rules) as Victor Frankenstein, the man obsessed with overcoming death through science.
“He’s an amazing actor to work with,” said Hamerlinck. “And the production is very rich and full of humanity. You can see yourself as Frankenstein and the creature.”
At the end, Hamerlinck finds the core of Shelley’s nearly 200-year-old story to be the age-old caution “not to judge someone by their eccentricities and appearance. Beneath the exterior is another human being.”
Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus begins previews on today (Feb. 12) and plays through March 9 at the Center Theatre at the Armory on the grounds of the Seattle Center.
For tickets and times, check the company’s website.