"We just finished doing two weeks of [Peter and the Starcatcher] without a day off," Keenan-Bolger told Playbill.com the morning Tony nominations were announced, "so months ago I booked a little 'stay-cation' for me and my husband, not realizing that this was the day that the nominations were going to be announced. We were in this sweet little hotel and turned on the television and it didn't have NY1, which I thought was kind of hilarious, so we watched them on my tiny little phone.
"Honestly, I was so excited," the former 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee star continued, "but when the nominations were being announced and when the show got nominated, in my head I was like, 'It will be okay if I don't get nominated' because I was so happy that the show and that [co-directors] Roger [Rees] and Alex [Timbers] were recognized. I didn't think I would feel that way, but I did. So it was just sort of icing on the cake when it got around to me and [co-star] Christian [Borle, also a 2012 Tony nominee]. I am just so grateful for it because I love this project so much, and I've been attached to it for three years, and I believe in it so much, and so when you get to do something that you're really proud of and then it gets recognized, it's just so much more special."
The wildly imaginative stage production, which explores the origins of Peter Pan, his nemesis Captain Hook and the enchanted island of Neverland, has also resonated with audiences. Keenan-Bolger admitted she's not "totally sure I understand [the enthusiastic response from audiences], but I do think it's refreshing in that it's doing something that nothing else right now on Broadway is doing. And, a lot of people have said to me, 'I just have never really seen something like this before.' And, I think especially for young people seeing the show—young people know so much these days, for them to actually feel like they're in the presence of something new is really exciting. I think that's a big part of what the response is—that people are excited to use their imagination and not have everything so spelled out."
A feat of theatrical storytelling, language and stagecraft, Rick Elice's Peter and the Starcatcher is based on the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. Actress Keenan-Bolger said the biggest challenge of the production is "the physical rigor...I definitely have enjoyed these days off after doing it for those [consecutive] 16 shows. It was as tired as I can remember feeling for a long time. Luckily, it's an amazing group of people, so that helps push you through when the exhaustion takes over."
Although she is relishing her second Tony nomination (her first was for her heartfelt performance in the aforementioned Spelling Bee), Keenan-Bolger explained, "In these moments of being singled out... of course I'm so grateful for it, but also I wish there was a category for Best Ensemble because that is really what I'm the most proud of on this show — getting to be part of something so collaborative and with such an unbelievably talented cast."
|photo by Joan Marcus|
Keenan-Bolger was also part of another multi-talented cast this past February in the limited engagement of the City Center Encores! production of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth's short-lived but tuneful Broadway musical Merrily We Roll Along. "That was amazing!" she said. "The fact that I have gotten to do those two shows in the last four months is like just too much. ... We got to record [Merrily] a few weeks ago, and just being back in a room with all of those people and feeling a part of that show again just was so special. I was so incredibly grateful to get to be a part of that production and then to get to do something so different in Peter and the Starcatcher."
The Broadway production of Peter earned nine Tony Award nominations, including Best Play, Best Original Score, Best Direction, Best Featured Actor, Best Featured Actress, Best Costume Design, Best Lighting Design, Best Scenic Design and Best Sound Design.