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Andy Karl’s Next Big Broadway Role

The actor stars alongside Kristin Chenoweth in “On the Twentieth Century”

You may remember Andy Karl from last year’s feel-good musical Rocky, where he played the titular boxer with a heart of gold. But the Baltimore native switched gears (and a few decades) for his latest role as silver screen lothario Bruce Granit, starring opposite Kristin Chenoweth and Peter Gallagher in the 1930s-set screwball comedy On the Twentieth Century. On the eve of opening night, Karl talked to DuJour about his role as a camera-loving boy toy and why all that boxing training is still paying off.

From the moment he steps onstage Bruce Granit is intent on becoming a star and he’s so funny to watch—what attracted you to the role? 

Poor Bruce—he is so two dimensional and very silly. His mission is to be a big Hollywood actor so he clings on to Lily Garland (played by Kristin Chenoweth) basically to keep his star on the rise. There’s a lot of funny things that can happen with a guy who is just pure ego and that drew me right in.

Andy Karl, Kristin Chenoweth, and Peter Gallagher in "On the Twentieth Century." Photograph by Joan Marcus, 2015.

Andy Karl, Kristin Chenoweth, and Peter Gallagher in “On the Twentieth Century.” Photograph by Joan Marcus, 2015.

It’s such a fine line between funny and over-the-top. Where you worried about how audiences would react?

We rehearsed without an audience so I was dying for one because everything I do is basically a checklist of bits. Oscar Jaffe (played by Peter Gallagher) is trying to woo Lily away from Bruce, so I’m constantly doing some sort of pratfall. I needed an audience to see if anything was working; luckily, a lot of it did.

What has it been like working with a Broadway veteran like Kristin?

You have to bring your A-game with Kristin, and as soon as we met we started cracking jokes and I was throwing her over my head. At one point in the show she’s on my back while I’m doing push-ups but thankfully I still have a little bit of the Rocky physique left.

I read that in your downtime you write music?

Every moment I get I’m usually thinking of a tune. I tend to take songs and make them into something that they would never be, like an all-metal version of the song “She’s a Nut” from the show. That was my first attempt so far but I’m sure I’m going to be spending more time on the keyboard.

Main photograph by Joan Marcus, 2015