Carlee Wright, Statesman Journal 9:37 p.m. PST November 11, 2014
KARLOFF the play, written by and featuring Randy Bowser, will premiere this weekend at Level B Theatre Pub.
Boris Karloff is the legend most people recognize as Frankenstein's monster, but the man also known as William Henry Pratt was more than just this iconic character. His story is one about overcoming adversity and dedication to craft. And that story is being shared through a kaleidoscope of vignettes by Salem resident Randy Bowser in his show, KARLOFF the play.
"You really don't have to be a Boris Karloff fan to enjoy the show," Bowser said. "It's not a monster show; it's about a man. It's funny and fast with a big emphasis on entertainment. I think it has a broad appeal."
Bowser is a veteran actor and playwright. His musical based on "The Picture of Dorian Gray," which premiered at Pentacle Theatre in 2008, has been running at The Stas Namin Centre in Moscow, Russia, for four years.
"Last year, I started toying with the idea of a one-man show," Bowser said. "It didn't take long to come to Boris Karloff because he was one of my early acting hereos. When I was a youth, I would sneak down and watch late-night movies. That is when I first saw 'Frankenstein' and 'Dracula.' "
Bowser credits his interest and the revival of classic monster movies to the Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, saying that it instilled an appreciation for the filmmakers and actors.
As research for his play, Bowser read five biographies and took "scads and scads of notes."
Sara Karloff, Boris' only child, has authorized this play and will be in attendance for the show on Nov. 14 and 15. "She surprised me with it," Bowser said. "I wasn't assuming she would be able to fly up to see the play, but she just one day wrote and said, 'I've got to see this.' "
Sara has made an appearance in Salem previously. About 10 years ago, she showed home movies of her and her father at Loucks Auditorium, Bowser said.
Bowser has made enhancements to his play, customizing it for the venue in addition to an elaborate sound system. Level B also has a movie screen.
"There is a lot to his story," Bowser said. "I feel like I have managed to capture much of it in the play. For one thing, that everyone can relate to, he really overcame many obstacles to get the career he had. His life story is a great example of the strength of the human spirit. That is so admirable. He was a very unlikely person to become a star, but it was impossible for him to not give it his all. I find him very inspiring."
One-man play tells of man behind Frankenstein's monster