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.
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