BWW Interview: George Merrick in SHERLOCK RETURNS at Hunterdon Hills Playhouse Dinner Theatre 3/10 to 4/30
Sherlock Returns is another crown jewel in Hunterdon Hills Playhouse's (HHP) widely popular Sherlock Holmes Immersive Musical Comedy Series. This uproarious musical features an all-new plot and a slew of new songs. Buckingham Palace has been robbed and it's up to Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson, and the audience, to go on a hilarious hunt to find the missing royal treasure. Don't miss this one-of-a-kind show written by Peter Sham and Brad Carroll, internationally renowned writers of the West End hit comedy, Lend Me A Tenor: The Musical, and featuring the superb HHP orchestra.
Broadwayworld.com had the pleasure of interviewing George Merrick who plays Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock Returns about his career and the upcoming show at HHP.
Merrick has appeared on Broadway in Honeymoon in Vegas, South Pacific, and High Fidelity. Off-Broadway, he starred alongside Marlo Thomas in Clever Little Lies and has appeared in Judgment Day, Ring Twice for Miranda at City Center, and Money Talks. Recent regional roles include the venues Hudson Valley Shakespeare, Paper Mill Playhouse, Goodspeed Opera House, Syracuse Stage, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, North Shore, and St. Louis MUNY. George's TV credits include Fosse/Verdon, Rise, Madame Secretary, The Blacklist, and Blue Bloods.
We always like to know how actors get started. When did you first perform for an audience?
I was cast as the title role in Oliver in a semi-pro production when I was eleven. Once I was exposed to the magic of being backstage and the bonding that happens with a cast, I knew there was never anything else I could ever want to do.
Who are some of the people who mentored or inspired your career?
There are many people throughout my career who helped to shape me. My first was my grammar school music teacher, then my high school drama teacher, then eventually fellow professional actors. I remember understudying Danny Burstein on Broadway in "South Pacific" and feeling like every performance he gave was a masterclass. I am always inspired by actors who can keep working, keep staying engaged, and challenged.
You have very eclectic and impressive credits. What have been some of your most challenging roles?
I played Marlo Thomas' son in the play "Clever Little Lies", which required me to lie, cheat, scream, rant, cry, and then be sympathetic to an audience. Knowing that you need to get to a certain emotional temperature every night is difficult. You don't want to push it, but you know you gotta deliver. To keep it spontaneous and real is a huge challenge.
How do you like being back at Hunterdon Hills Playhouse?
Great to drive out here every day, see trees, have some quiet time. The audiences out here have a great time and the people in this cast are really talented and wonderful.
Tell us a little about your role as Sherlock Holmes in "Sherlock Returns."
I'm trying to put my own stamp on him. This Sherlock is a bit irascible, very opinionated, perhaps hard to know. His mind works in a unique way and is vastly different from mine. But he's got great songs to sing!
We'd love to know about your fellow cast members and the creative team that makes the show happen.
This entire cast is so talented and they work so hard. We don't have a long rehearsal period so its an intense few weeks. I spend most of my time in rehearsal with Rick Ford, who plays Watson. Rick and I have an easy relationship and we are good friends and I think that reads onstage. Rhett Guter, the director, and I met several years ago when we starred in "Bye Bye, Birdie" together. He became of my best friends and I have enormous respect for him as an actor and director. I think we see things the same way and it's always a fun time working with him.
Hunterdon Hills is one of the premier dinner theatre venues in the area. Why do you think audiences return again and again?
I think quality entertainment is always a draw. The music sounds great here, the show is well written and funny and family friendly. Sherlock is also an interactive experience which the audiences love.
What would you like metro area theatergoers to know about the show?
The music is delightful, the book is fun and funny, and the cast is delightful.
Anything else, absolutely anything you want BWW readers to know.
Hunterdon is only an hour outside the city and it's striving to do good work, using great performers, and presenting a world premiere original musical.
Sherlock Returns has both matinee and evening performances. Hunterdon Hills Playhouse Dinner Theatre, located on 90 country acres in picturesque Hunterdon County, has welcomed and entertained millions of enthusiastic dinner theater patrons from all over the tri-state area for over three decades. The Playhouse is located at 88 Route 173 West, Hampton, NJ 08827. For more information, and to purchase tickets, and for group sales, please visit https://www.hhplayhouse.com/ or call 800.447.7313.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of George Merrick