Bergen County’s David Krumholtz returned to his well-loved role as Bernard the Elf in the Santa Clause movie franchise this holiday season. But lately a weightier, wisecrack-free character is landing him in the spotlight: Krumholtz plays Hermann, the patriarch of a well-to-do Jewish family, in Tony Award winner Tom Stoppard’s latest Broadway hit, Leopoldstadt.
It’s the turn of the 20th century in Vienna, and Hermann converts to Christianity to better his chances at social and professional mobility. But he’s derailed by what Krumholtz describes as “an unwelcome comeuppance.”
“Ultimately, he cannot escape his destiny,” says Krumholtz, 44, who moved to Wyckoff with his wife, Vanessa, and their young son and daughter from Los Angeles five years ago. “It’s a deeply devastating play with some very hard truths to tell.”
For Krumholtz, those truths often feel personal. His father grew up in Manhanttan, surrounded by Holocaust survivors. In 2017, he died of multiple system atrophy, a rare neurological disorder.
“I’m doing the play in tribute to him,” he says. “It’s been a chance for me to reconnect with my own Judaism, which would have been my father’s dream come true.”
Making the leap to live theater after a 30-year career on screens—Krumholtz starred in the CBS series NUMB3RS and in movies including Harold & Kumar—hasn’t been easy.
“I’ve been spoiled by film and television, where you shoot one scene on one day, and then it’s over, and where it’s rare to work every single day,” he says. But living in New Jersey, where he has fallen in love with what he calls “the keenness and smartness of New Jerseyans,” and has become part of the bridge-and-tunnel crowd, has been a balm. Every day, he drives to the Longacre Theater in Midtown Manhattan.
On the way, “I’ll call a friend to tell them how intimidated I am by the play, how frightened I am,” he says. “It settles me down.”
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