backstage pass

Andrew Keenan-Bolger talks yay or nay on biting, couch-squealing, & the show that changed his life

Actor Andrew Keenan-Bolger sits in a window
Andrew Keenan-Bolger. Photo by Curtis Brown Photography

A new version of Dracula has swept Off-Broadway this fall with a decidedly queer twist. Andrew Keenan-Bolger (who Disney fans might recognize as Crutchie from the musical Newsies) stars in the polyamorous romp.

There have been plenty of adaptations of Bram Stoker’s 1897 Gothic horror novel, including Tod Browning’s 1931 film, the 1992 remake starring Gary Oldman, and the 2020 Netflix/BBC homoerotic reboot. Then there’s Anne Rice’s 13-part Vampire Chronicles, which has its own legacy of gay-coded gore.

Dracula, A Comedy of Terrors is uniquely theatrical, featuring five actors playing multiple roles and genders in the spirit of Charles Ludlam and Monty Python. Keenan-Bolger mischievously bites into Steve Rosen and Gorden Greenberg’s script, quickly flipping between nebish fiancee Harker, his post-bite, leather-clad alter-ego, and an assortment of other quirky characters.

The cast of Off-Broadway's 'Dracula, A Comedy of Terrors.'
The cast of ‘Dracula, A Comedy of Terrors.’ Photo by Matthew Murphy

Quick changes keep the cast on their feet and the audience guessing who might crawl out of the woodwork next. (Arnie Burton delivers a scenery-stealing performance as Mina, the socially inept sister of Lucy, while James Daly’s musclebound title character likely consumes as much protein powder as vital fluids.)

Queerty caught up with Keenan-Bolger just prior to the show’s opening for his opinion on biting, the show that changed his life, and his favorite queer theatermaker.

I portray six characters in Dracula, A Comedy of Terrors. If I had to play favorites, the one that gets me fired up every performance would be…

I spend most of the show as Jonathan Harker, but my favorite character that I get to play is the Gravedigger. He only makes a brief appearance, but when he does, it’s when I really let my inner clown juices flow through my veins. I based him on one of those ghosts from the Haunted Mansion ride at Disney World, but tipsy.

Andrew Keenan-Bolger in 'Dracula, A Comedy of Terrors'
Andrew Keenan-Bolger in ‘Dracula, A Comedy of Terrors.’ Photo by Matthew Murphy

Inspired by Bram Stoker’s classic tale and the gender-bending comedy of Charles Ludlum and Monty Python, Dracula, A Comedy of Terrors offers a fresh take on the famous vampire. My personal take on biting is…

That it’s always welcome with consent (㇏(•̀ᵥᵥ•́)ノ)

Transylvania might not be on my bucket list — feel free to change my minds, Romanian readers! — but I would, however, return to ______ in a hot second…

Mexico City! I visited for the first time earlier this year and am already itching to return. With its tree-lined boulevards, adorable boutiques, and unparalleled and affordable food scene, it is the place I immediately recommend to friends looking for adventure abroad.

Andrew Keenan-Bolger. Photo by Robert Riese Photography

One of my characters, Jonathan Harker, is easily frightened (until an encounter with a certain strapping vampire). I’m scared silly of spiders, but when faced with Spotted Lantern Flies, I turn into a Marvel superhero…

Every married couple has the one who kills or rescues bugs in the house and the one who stands on the couch and squeals. I am definitely the latter. But when it comes to the invasive Spotted Lantern Fly, I go full Starship Troopers.

Andrew Keenan-Bolger, left, and James Daly in 'Dracula, A Comedy of Terrors.' Photo by Matthew Murphy
Andrew Keenan-Bolger, left, and James Daly in ‘Dracula, A Comedy of Terrors.’ Photo by Matthew Murphy

The queer theater-maker everyone should be paying attention to right now…

Shakina Nayfack! She is an incredible trans actress, writer, director, and activist with a unique worldview that often forces me to examine my own beliefs on art, gender politics, and religion, all while managing to be hilarious and such a good teacher for our community.

The show that changed my life…

When I was 11, I saw the out-of-town tryout of Ragtime in Toronto before it moved to Broadway. I remember watching the performance and being so moved that I started to cry, not because it was a sad part of the show, but because it was beautiful. I had never felt that feeling before. It was a true testament to the power of theater, and I think one of the reasons that I chose to pursue this art form as a profession.

The original Broadway company of “Ragtime” performing at the 1998 Tony Awards.

The gayest thing about me…

I’m really good at correctly guessing the ages of character actresses and really bad at parallel parking.

Revive ____________ so I can star in it!

Diana: The Musical. And no, I will not explain anything further 😉

Dracula, A Comedy of Terrors plays Off-Broadway at New World Stages through January 7, 2023.

Andrew Keenan-Bolger
Andrew Keenan-Bolger
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