Q&A: Book of Mormon’s A.J. Holmes discusses play, career

Clara Wang

A.J. Holmes stars as the bumbling Mormon missionary Elder Cunningham in the Broadway musical “Book of Mormon,” which runs at the Bass Concert Hall until Sunday. Written by the creators of South Park, the irreverent play features two young missionaries as they try to convert a war-torn village in Uganda. Before the show on Saturday, Holmes spoke with The Daily Texan about the play and his acting career.

The Daily Texan: How do you personally relate to Elder Cunningham?

Holmes: I can relate to him a lot. He’s an overeager fanboy who is really socially awkward. I think he’s a great character, and he just wants to make friends. I think a lot of people can relate to that. I also love the role because it’s just the funniest part of the show. I feel like I get to negotiate the energy level of the night with the audience.

DT: How do you think the show deals with its controversial topics?

H: It was actually very well-received in Salt Lake City, and the audience kept stopping the show to clap. People expect it to be very controversial, but it’s actually very pro-religion. At the end of the show, Elder Price makes the point: “It doesn’t matter what happens when we die.” It’s more about making the most of our time on earth.

DT: What has been your favorite city to perform in?

H: We spent 11 weeks in San Francisco and it was really nice to be able to just settle down, rent an apartment, and to not have to feel like I’m on the road all the time.

DT: How did you first get into acting?

Holmes: I grew up acting, and my mom directed at a local community theater. It runs in the family.

DT: So you’ve been into musicals your whole life. How did your education at the University of Michigan prepare you for Broadway?

H: I remember looking into playbills and noticing that a lot of actors were from the University of Michigan. I met a lot of people who helped me in the industry there, and the best thing from the jump about UMich was that it connected the dots of who to know and what to do when I got into the real world.

DT: What has been your favorite part about being on the BOM tour?

H: It’s changed my life. It’s been one of the most incredible things to happen to me. There isn’t a specific moment, but the whole run has been amazing.

  • What: Book of Mormon
  • Where: Bass Concert Hall
  • When: Saturday at 2 p.m., 8 p.m.
  • Sunday at 1 p.m., 7 p.m.
  • Admission: $25