Broadway favorites Andrew Keenan-Bolger, Kim Crosby, Pamela Myers, and Cathy Rigby come together to ring in the holiday season as the stars of Kris Kringle The Musical, an original musical about a young, starry-eyed toymaker, Kris Kringle (AKB), who finds himself wrapped up in a magical curse that could destroy Christmas. The holiday family musical plays New York's Town Hall for one day only on November 24. Read on as BroadwayBox talks with Andrew Keenan-Bolger about growing up obsessed with Sondheim, Christmas traditions, and the reality of being a young Broadway star.
1. You grew up a true theatre nerd. Do you remember the first time you heard or saw Cathy, Pam, and Kim?
I grew up with an older sister who was obsessed with musicals, so from the time I can remember listening to music, I was listening to showtunes. While other kids were listening to Raffi, we were blasting Sunday in the Park with George. And of all composers whose work we admired, the one who got the most playtime was Stephen Sondheim. It was to the point that I even named my hamster, Sondheim, when I was 8 years old. Into the Woods and Company were pretty much played on loop in the K-B household. One of the reasons I wanted to do Kris Kringle was the thought of getting get to share a stage with Cinderella and Marta. And Cathy is someone whose work I really admire. We were both in Seussical on Broadway. And although I left the show before she joined, I heard so many stories about what a great woman she was to work with and how hilarious she made The Cat in the Hat.
2. Tell me a bit about your most memorable Christmas.
When I was young, all the grandkids on my mom’s side would trek up to my aunt’s home. My grandpa was an amazing guy and every year after we opened presents, he would write an original musical for all the grandkids to perform. It was usually a revue with parody song lyrics sending up the past year of world and family politics. I have such vivid memories of those Christmas mornings and so many video tapes that I’m sure could be used to black mail me in the future.
3. What’s a holiday tradition you love each year?
I’m a total foodie so as I’ve gotten older my favorite thing to do is spend the day in the kitchen cooking with my sisters and fiancé.
4. What’s the biggest misconception about being a young Broadway star?
I think there’s a stereotype that a lot of kids who perform on Broadway are there because their parents are forcing them to be. The “nightmare stage mom” trope is always something people bring up when they find out I was a child actor, and while I think it exists, I’ve been overwhelming exposed to really well-adjusted child actors who have incredibly supportive parents. It’s a huge sacrifice to raise a kid who acts professionally, and I think we don’t give parents enough credit. The fact that my parents recognized that I had a passion that was different than other kids, and not only encouraged it, but moved across the country to let me pursue it is kind of nuts. What an incredible gift you can give to a child—letting them try on a career and lifestyle at such an early age. Also, I’ve found, rarely do child actors with crazy parents work regularly. Far more often, behind a really great child actor, is one or more encouraging, selfless parent.
5. You worked on Tuck Everlasting for years and it unfortunately had such a short Broadway life. What did you do after the closing for yourself? How did you close that chapter?
When Tuck closed on Broadway, I think I expected to be completely heart-broken. It was a show I’d worked so hard on and was such a champion of, but I have to say, the pride I felt about even getting to Broadway greatly outweighed the sadness I felt in closing it. I think because I was reminded nightly of its central theme—you don’t have to live forever, you just have to live—I was better suited to deal with its loss. Also, since we’ve closed, the cast recording has gained quite a bit of popularity and the show is now being produced all over the country. I think I always knew the show would live on, and our closing night on Broadway was only a chapter in its long story.
See Andrew Keenan-Bolger in Kris Kringle The Musical at NYC's Town Hall on November 24.