15 Questions in 15 Minutes with Andrew Keenan-Bolger

Since he was a teenager, actor, writer, director, filmmaker, and Detroit native Andrew Keenan-Bolger has been accumulating his non-stop fifteen minutes of fame on the stage and screen. In 1999, he appeared as the twelve-year-old Scrooge in A Christmas Carol at Madison Square Garden. In 2000, at the age of fifteen, he was seen on Broadway as Jojo in the original cast of Seussical the Musical, followed by his award-nominated roles as Crutchie in Newsies (and later in the 2017 Disney movie version, filmed live on stage at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood) and Jesse Tuck in Tuck Everlasting, in addition to his appearances as Robertson Ay in Mary Poppins and as a replacement for the part of Chip Potts in Beauty and the Beast.

Andrew Keenan-Bolger. Photo by Luke Fontana.

Among the other numerous credits of the multi-talented artist are the 1st National Tours of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Mary Poppins, and Ragtime; the Off-Broadway productions of Seven Deadly Sins and Family Furniture; guest spots on the TV series One Life to Live, The Undoing, The Blacklist, The Other Two, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Nurse Jackie, and Looking; and in the films The Rewrite, Marci X, and many more. He is also the co-creator of the web series Submissions Only and co-author of the children’s book series Jack & Louisa (published by Penguin Random House).

In September, fans can see Keenan-Bolger back Off-Broadway for a limited engagement at New World Stages in Dracula, A Comedy of Terrors, a 90-minute reimagining by Gordon Greenberg and Steve Rosen of Bram Stoker’s 1897 Gothic fiction classic, filled with pop-culture references, high camp, hilarious slapstick, Gen-Z, genderbending, pansexual characters, and hair-raising special effects that are guaranteed to have you screaming with laughter.

Andrew Keenan-Bolger (top right) and the cast of Dracula, A Comedy of Terrors. Photo by Maria Baranova.

Andrew generously took time out of his rehearsal schedule to answer some rapid-fire questions about the upcoming show, his career, and his personal favorites.

  1. What is it about vampires?

Andrew: Oh, wow, that’s a good question. There’ve been hundreds of adaptations of Bram Stoker’s classic; it seems like we’re obsessed with Dracula! It’s an intriguing mixture of how scary and how sexy he is, and arguably, there’s an existential element to his life, which we all think we would like to have – to be able to live forever (though that probably wouldn’t really be a good thing).

  1. If you had a pet bat, what would you name it?

Oh, it would have to be sort of funny, with some kind of celebrity . . . how about AcroBat?!

  1. What are you most afraid of?

This sounds crazy, but I’m afraid of peep holes, I won’t look through them. I did one time, and no one was there. So I turned away, then looked again, and suddenly someone’s eye was on the other side staring at me – so I screamed!!! If someone knocks, I’d rather just ask, “Who’s there?”

Andrew Keenan-Bolger. Photo by Maria Baranova.
  1. Do you prefer eating or wearing garlic?

Definitely eating; I can’t get enough! I have to kiss a few people in the show, so I have to be careful not to eat too much, and to have a lot of Listerine around!

  1. What’s the funniest line you have in the show?

It’s such a silly line, in the first scene, in a carriage. The driver says that the things people say about the castle are unspeakable. So my character asks, “Then how do they say them?” It’s a good example of the kind of humor in the show, it’s silly fun.

  1. What three things do you always keep in your dressing room?

A toothbrush, out of respect for the other actors. Personal pictures – I have a big collection of Polaroids of my friends and like to put them around my mirror. And Grethers throat pastilles.

Andrew Keenan-Bolger (center right) and the cast of Dracula, A Comedy of Terrors.
  1. Which of the characters you portray in the show do you find most relatable?

I play seven or eight, but I would say the main character I play, Jon Harker, is the one I relate to most. He’s a little neurotic, a scaredy cat, but then he finds the strength and agency he needs, so I appreciate that and imbue him with a lot of it.

  1. What’s the most memorable reaction you’ve ever gotten from an audience member?

I was doing Newsies at Paper Mill Playhouse; it was the first preview in front of an audience. The Act I finale is the song “Seize the Day,” and everyone stood up and gave us a mid-show standing ovation. We didn’t even know it would be going to Broadway yet, so it was very encouraging; I’ll never forget it.

  1. Is there one role or show you’d like to sink your teeth into in the future?

Ever since his passing, I’ve thought about Stephen Sondheim. I was interested in him as a young kid, he was godlike. I’ve only done one of his shows so far, so I’d love to do another Sondheim – any show, any role, any time!

Andrew Keenan-Bolger (left center) and the cast of Dracula, A Comedy of Terrors. Photo by Maria Baranova.
  1. Who’s been the biggest inspiration in your career?

This is the easiest question – my big sister Celia. She’s a few years older, and just from watching the activities of her career – what she took, what she turned down, and how much stock she put into young artists – was a huge inspiration to me. I feel so lucky to be in the same industry as she is; whenever I’m struggling, I can just pick up the phone, or she calls me to check in on how I’m doing.

  1. What’s your first creative memory?

I remember when I was very young, with Celia, the music I grew up listening to was from the theater. Les Mis was one of my favorite musicals, and at four, I pulled out some costumes and did a performance of the song “Lovely Ladies” in the basement for my parents.

  1. What three words would you use to describe yourself? 

Curious. Empath. Goofy!

Andrew Keenan-Bolger. Photo by Maria Baranova.
  1. What’s your favorite summertime activity when you’re not working?

Any time I can be sitting with a group of friends looking at any body of water, holding a glass of wine or a drink.

  1. What’s the most fabulous thing about being live on the NYC stage?

Being a part of the theater community of New York and being surrounded with passionate, caring, entertaining, like-minded people.

  1. What’s the best thing about being famous?

As someone who has been a fan, getting to inspire others who might be a fan of yours, to encourage them to pursue this career, is the best. I have a little need to stand in the spotlight, but more to build a community.

Thanks, Andrew, for sharing a fast and lively 15 minutes with us on a busy day of rehearsals. It was great to talk to you, and I can’t wait to see you in Dracula in September!

Dracula, A Comedy of Terrors plays September 4, 2023-January 7, 2024, at New World Stages, 340 West 50th Street, NYC. For tickets (priced at $110-174, including fees), call (212) 239-6200, or purchase them online.

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