CUE & A: Kinky Boots Star Andy Kelso on Vocal Health, Dream Roles and Flubbed Fiyero Lyrics

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02 Sep 2014

Andy Kelso

Andy Kelso, who currently stars as Charlie Price in the Tony-winning Broadway musical Kinky Boots, fills out Playbill.com's questionnaire of random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.

Kelso has previously appeared on Broadway in Mamma Mia! (Sky).

Other theatre work includes Wicked (Fiyero), Rent, Two Rooms, Jacques Brel…, The Drawer Boy and Fiddler on the Roof.



Full given name: Andrew James Kelso
Where you were born/where you were raised: Aurora, Colorado
Zodiac Sign:Taurus
What your parents did/do for a living: They’re both accountants, so we have no idea how I ended up here.
Current audition song/monologue:“Only The Good Die Young” by Billy Joel. And I think just about every casting director in town has heard me do it at some point… I still like using it, but it’s probably time to do an audition book renovation!
Siblings:One sister. She’s older, but only by 16 months.
Special skills:Guitar, Bass, Basic Audio Recording, Photography… I also recently learned how to make soy candles if that counts!
Something you're REALLY bad at:Basketball, ballet & spelling
First Broadway show you ever saw: The Full Monty. I saw it in previews on my first trip to NYC and loved it.
If you could go back in time and catch any show, what would it be? Maybe the original production of West Side Story. Not only to see the show in all of its original elements (including the full orchestra), but to see the way people experienced theater back then.
Current or recent show other than your own you have been recommending to friends: Due to our schedule, I haven’t been able to see many shows recently so I'll end up recommending a show that I would love to see myself so I can live vicariously. Recently, that’s been Hedwig or Beautiful.
Favorite showtune(s) of all time: That’s tough… ”Luck Be a Lady,” “Tonight,” “Wheels of a Dream,” “La Vie Boheme,” “No One Is Alone,” “It Sucks to Be Me.” There really are too many to list.
Some favorite modern musicals: Avenue Q, Once, Title of Show, Wicked, Last 5 Years, Full Monty, KINKY BOOTS!
Some favorite classic musicals: West Side Story, Guys and Dolls, White Christmas (the movie at least-I’ve never seen the stage show), Into the Woods (not sure if that one’s considered "classic" but it is in my mind anyway!)
Broadway or screen stars of the past you would have most loved to perform with: Danny Kaye, Audrey Hepburn, Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra or any of The Rat Pack for that matter
Your personal vocal idols, living or dead: Jeff Buckley, Frank Sinatra, Paul McCartney, Robert Plant, Billie Holiday, Anthony Warlow, Eva Cassidy
The one performance – attended - that you will never forget: Original cast of Doubt. The play itself, and Cherry Jones & Brian F. O’Byrne were perfect.
Music that makes you cry, any genre: Plenty. Currently on my iPod: “The Ballad of Love & Hate” by The Avett Brothers. Almost every time.
MAC or PC? MAC!!
Most played song on your iPod: Right now- “Liz Warmup.” It’s my vocal warmup from Liz Caplan that I use before each show. Coming in at a distant second is “Follow Your Arrow” by Kacey Musgraves
Most-visited websites: Playbill.com (seriously- it’s my homepage), The Daily Beast, Pitchfork, The Knot (wedding planning!!)
Favorite Tweeters: @chelseanachman, @cuteemergency, @TFLN, @santaclaus, @SteveMartinToGo, @80sDonDrapper
Last book you read: Steve Jobs' biography
Must-see TV show(s): "Game of Thrones," "Mad Men," "Orange is the New Black," "House of Cards"… Also I JUST started watching "The West Wing" from the beginning and am obsessed.
Last good movie you saw: "Dallas Buyer’s Club"
Some films you consider classics: "Shawshank Redemption," "Anchorman," "Nightmare Before Christmas," "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest," "It’s A Wonderful Life," "Scent of a Woman"
Performer you would drop everything to go see: Radiohead
Pop culture guilty pleasure: It’s far too easy for me to get sucked into "The Bachelorette"
Three favorite cities: Besides my hometown of Denver and current home of NYC… I’d say San Diego, Portland and Napa/Sonoma. And if we’re going outside the US, I’d say Amsterdam, Barcelona & Ireland in general!
Favorite sport/team/player: Football/Denver Broncos/Peyton Manning!
First CD/Tape/LP you owned: Stone Temple Pilots: "Core"
First stage kiss: Into The Woods. It was sophomore year in high school. I was the Baker and had to kiss the Baker’s Wife. Of course, a “Showmance” was born. So scandalous.
Favorite or most memorable onstage role as a child/teenager: I played the lead role of "Reuben" in 5th grade in Something’s Up Down in Bethlehem (the “hit" Christmas show). It was my first role ever and I just loved the fact that I got to wear the 1 body mic that the church owned.

It’s also memorable because we have video footage of it and my parents manage to bring it out whenever they meet a new friend of mine. After that role, I was convinced that if I ever needed a stage name, it would be "Reuben Andrews." Nope.

Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living: After high school, I didn’t think I wanted to be a professional performer… I think I just thought it was unrealistic. So I went to a state college and planned on studying Sound Engineering… I wanted to work in a recording studio or design acoustics for performance spaces. But little did I know that the school I went to did not have a Sound Engineering degree!

So I took my gen eds while trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. It was about half way through that year, when I was away from acting/performing, that I realized how much I missed it and decided to give it a shot. I auditioned for University of Northern Colorado, got accepted, and transferred the very next year.

How you got your Equity card: After college and just before moving to NYC, I was cast as Miles in The Drawer Boy at the Arvada Center in Colorado. I was given the option to take my card. I didn’t HAVE to take it and I’d get paid the same either way. I hesitated. I had heard about younger people coming to NYC with their card and little experience and having a rough time getting a job (this was also around the time when a lot of tours were starting to go non-equity).



After some thought I decided to take my card anyway. It was a bit of a risk and it took me a while to figure out the whole audition process in NYC. But ultimately, I was very happy that I was able to get my card when I did.

Favorite pre-/post- show meal: Bareburger. I’ll usually get the California Burger on a wrap with sweet potato fries.
Favorite liquid refreshment: Non-alcoholic: Water or Soda Stream. Alcoholic: Scotch
Pre-show rituals or warm-ups: Coffee. Always gotta have a coffee. I also have to do some sort of physical warmup- even if it’s just 15 minutes on a machine at the gym. And I have a 15-20 min vocal warmup. After places and before my entrance, I also go say hi and touch base with Mizz (Billy) Porter.
Most challenging role you have ever played: So far, this one is taking the cake: Charlie Price in Kinky Boots
Biggest challenge about this current project: This role is pretty vocally, physically and emotionally demanding. But I’d say the most challenging of those three qualities is keeping my voice healthy. Not only did I have to technically figure out how to sing the role 8 times a week, but it forces me to be extra careful outside of the theater. I need to get plenty of sleep, and make an extra effort to keep myself healthy.
Most fulfilling or fun aspect about the project: It’s a dream role. I get to sing amazing songs, play the good guy AND the bad guy, have some funny moments and some touching moments, and really go through a huge change. Also-everyone involved with this production is loads of fun. Seriously-the Hirschfeld is a pretty magical place these days.
Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap: Wicked National Tour. It was my first couple of weeks as Fiyero and I went up on the lyrics of "As Long As You’re Mine." In the duet section. It threw us both off for what felt like an eternity. We were just singing “blah, blah, blah” in harmony, until we finally got back on track. I thought for sure my career was over.
Worst costume ever: I had to wear a wedding dress as Sky in Mamma Mia. I guess that’s both the worst and the best.
Worst job you ever had: In high school and college, I worked at a couple clothing/retail stores and those were the worst. I was not meant to sell clothes so I spent the whole time walking around, folding and straightening clothes, and avoiding customers. Time couldn’t have gone by slower.
Craziest audition story: My first audition ever. It was for the musical in high school- The Secret Garden. I think I sang "Sunrise Sunset." Our school had done the Fiddler the year before so it was a bit of a faux pas to use the song in the first place. I forgot the lyrics terribly and the director started singing along with me just to get me through it. I ran spotlight for that production.
If you could trade roles/tracks with anyone in the show for a week, who would it be? I’d trade roles with Young Charlie (right now played by Cameron Colley). Not necessarily because I want to play Young Charlie, but because I think it would be hilarious to watch a kid play adult Charlie Price and run the factory.
Favorite Christmas or birthday gift you ever received: My now-fiancee, Sheila, got me a vintage record player the very first Christmas we spent as a couple. We’re now obsessed and have an ever growing record collection.
Leading man role you've been dying to play: James Bond. Who doesn’t want to be James Bond?
Leading lady role you've been dying to play: Daenerys Targaryen. The Mother of Dragons from "Game of Thrones." She has 3 dragons.
Something about you that surprises people: That I was born in a car. And that I drove said car until I was 18.
Something you are incredibly proud of: My Colorado roots.
Something you're embarrassed to admit: I watch "Sex and the City"… I mean, only when Sheila is watching it, of course.
Career you would want if not a performer: Sound Engineer/Acoustic Architect
Three things you can't live without: Music, Stories and Sheila
"I'll never understand why…” … the Broncos played so badly in last year’s Super Bowl. What a sham.
Words of advice for aspiring performers: Never give up. Never stop learning and getting better. You can ALWAYS get better so allow that pursuit to motivate you and keep you humble and kind. This business is a marathon not a sprint, so try not to get discouraged if it seems to be taking longer than you expected. Expect the best, but be prepared for the worst. There will be times when it’s really hard, but if you can stick with it and keep on working at it, something is bound to happen. And perhaps most importantly: be kind to your fellow artists.