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Monday, March 3, 2014

Groovy Guy of the Month: Andrew Keenan-Bolger

This month's Groovy Guy is actor, director, author and filmmaker Andrew Keenan-Bolger, who has appeared on Broadway in Beauty and the Beast, A Christmas Carol, Seussical, Mary Poppins and Newsies (for which he received an Outer Critics Circle nomination). His television and film credits include HBO's Looking, Nickelodeon's The Naked Brothers Band, One Life to Live, Marci X and Bravo's Watch What Happens: Live (as a guest bartender). He is also the co-creator (with Kate Wetherhead) of one of my favorite web series, Submissions Only, which is now in its third season. This online sitcom follows the lives of a group of NYC friends who work in the glorious world of theater, and it has received rave reviews from New York magazine, The Wall Street Journal and Entertainment Weekly.

I am delighted to have the fabulous Mr. Keenan-Bolger here on the Dish to answer a few questions about his career and, of course, pop culture.

Did you always want to be an actor? And what was your very first role?
I was born into the theater world. Since before I can remember I watched my older sisters Celia and Maggie perform, and they were always the coolest people in the world. I just wanted to be like them so if acting was what it took, that’s what I was going to do. My first role was Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol - some apparent foreshadowing of a long career playing handicapped characters.

What inspired you and Kate Wetherhead to create Submissions Only?
Kate and I were working on a show called It's A Bird... It's A Plane... It's Superman in Dallas, Texas. We teamed up on some fun backstage videos, and her husband suggested we create something longer form. We were both moving back to New York without jobs and decided we should write the pilot of a webseries. Before we knew it we had filmed an episode, and it sort of just kept going.

Can you share any details about the new season of Submissions Only? Any groovy guest stars?
I have to say, the new season is pretty great. Being in the third season of a show is such a luxury because we really get to write for our characters. Our actors have now lived as these people for over three years, and their work has gotten so real and personal. I was blown away with the performances that people brought to this season. I don’t think we’re used to seeing this kind of acting on a web series, and I’m so excited for the world to watch. And, of course, we have some dynamite guest stars - Audra McDonald, Bobby Cannavale, Judith Light, Joel Grey, Kelli O’Hara and Brian d’Arcy James just to name a few.

What is the most memorable moment you have had while performing onstage in a show?
Hands down the most memorable moment of my life in the theater was performing “Seize the Day” from Newsies at our invited dress rehearsal when we moved to Broadway. Thirteen kids in our cast were making their Broadway debuts, and the energy in the house that night was electric. I remember buttoning the number and feeling a sonic boom of energy rush at us as everyone in the audience leapt to their feet and cheered. We just held in that freeze for about a minute, and I could see out of the corner of my eyes all these faces of my castmates just steamed with tears, unable to believe that we had made it to New York.

You have two new films coming out this year - The Rewrite with Hugh Grant and the indie comedy, You Must Be Joking. What are they about and who do you play?
I had the good fortune of getting to work on both an indie film and a big-budget Hollywood film last year. You Must Be Joking was written and directed by my best friend, Jake Wilson. It’s about Barb Schwartz, a paralegal who unlocks a hidden passion for comedy. It’s a hilarious film and I get to play a douchey guy in her improv class. In The Rewrite, Hugh Grant plays a washed-up Hollywood screenwriter who is forced to take a teaching job at a college. I play one of his socially awkward students who he takes under his wing. It’s a really sweet film, and I was in a pretty much constant state of starstruck for the 2½ months that we filmed.

Tell us about the children's book series that you and Kate are writing together.
The series is called Jack and Louisa, and it's coming out in early 2015 from Penguin Publishing. It’s about two middle schoolers in Ohio who become friends and begin to do community theater together. It’s funny and touching and really a love letter to the directors, actors and teachers who are out there fighting the good fight and bringing arts education to young people.

If you could go back in time and see any Broadway show, which one would you choose and why?
I’d see the original Company. It’s one of my favorite shows and I’d love to see how people reacted to a show that I think lead the march in the creation of the modern musical.

Is there a role in any musical or play that you would love to do someday?
I’d love to play “Ned Weeks” in The Normal Heart when I’m older. That show absolutely wrecked me in a way I didn’t know possible, and I would love to get to be in it someday.

What are your five favorite TV shows of all time?
Strangers with Candy, Six Feet Under, Summer Heights High, Top Chef and Sherlock.

What are five of your favorite films?
The Royal Tenenbaums, Annie Hall, Showgirls, Garden State and Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

If you were asked to choose the Sexiest Man Alive, whom would you select?
Chris Pratt. He is my ideal man. Funny, sexy, goofy, adorable.

If you could have anyone in the world - living or dead - be a guest at your dinner party, what three people would you invite?
Amy Sedaris, Andy Warhol and Lena Dunham.

What's next for Andrew Keenan-Bolger? And will there be a 4th Season of Submissions Only?
I’ve got some fun stuff coming up. I’m going to be starring in a film that actually starts production at the end of this week. As far as a fourth season, I’m not totally sure. Kate and I have a few other irons in the fire. We’ve started work on our second book and are in the early stages of pre-production for a movie we’re going to film this winter. Submissions Only is, of course, our first love so I think a lot of it will depend on how our new season is received. No matter what, the team that brought you Submissions Only is going to be creating a lot of new stuff in 2014.

Thank you, Andrew, for being such a groovy guy!

To learn more about Andrew, go to or follow him on Twitter. And you can watch Submissions Only at or on

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