BWW Interview: Andy Karl & Orfeh Talk Feinstein's/54 Below Show, GROUNDHOG DAY & More
This December 8th through 14th, Broadway's hottest couple, Orfeh and Andy Karl will make their Feinstein's/54 Below debut together in their all-new show "Legally Bound." After love at first sight during the couple's time in SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER on Broadway, then getting married in 2001, this duo has established themselves as both individual talents and as a theatre power couple.
They appeared alongside one another in LEGALLY BLONDE, earning Orfeh a Tony nomination for her role as Paulette in 2007. Andy received back to back Tony nods himself, one for his star turn as the title character in ROCKY in 2014, and another for his role as Bruce Granit in the Broadway revival of ON THE TWENTIETH CENTURY in 2015. He most recently starred as Phil Connors in the West End's GROUNDHOG DAY musical, bound for Broadway in 2017.
Reuniting together again onstage, Orfeh and Andy Karl will be joined by musical director Steven Jamail and some very special guest stars for an unforgettable evening of chart-toppers, show-stoppers, and a sprinkling of holiday magic. Charles Randolph-Wright directs. Today, the couple speaks exclusively with BWW about their exciting new show.
BWW: "Legally Bound" marks your Feinstein's/54 Below debut as a couple. Who came up with that clever title?
Orfeh: Well it was obviously a play on words, we are legally bound and I think that people are still into the whole Kyle and Paulette characters, so I like to think it was a clever take on the whole LEGALLY BLONDE connection and the fact that marriage does legally bind you together.
Andy Karl: Yeah, basically we had 15 minutes to come up with a title and it just popped out of my mouth and we were like, 'that's it!' Feinstein needed a title and I rattled that off and then all of a sudden it was the perfect title for this show.
Orfeh: I wish we could keep it forever; 'Legally Bound Part 2', 'Legally Bound Part 5.'
Andy Karl: How about, 'Even More Legally Bound?'
Orfeh: 'Further Bound.' 'Bounder'!
Andy Karl: How about, 'Legally Bound - She Has Half My Stuff'!
BWW: I love it! What can you tell us about the set list that you'll be performing for the show?
Orfeh: Well, the majority of it will be duets, but we'll also have some solo moments within the show, and we're going to have a bunch of guest stars each night, so they'll also have their turn. But it's mostly stuff that we love, or wish we had written, because if we had, we'd be billionaires! And then stuff that we're known for in the shows that we've done. And also some Christmas tunes, because it is December, so we'll bring a little holiday cheer.
Andy Karl: Yeah, we wanted to keep it fun and for the season as well. I think it's a great mix. We've gone through the set list in rehearsals now, and it's become this great mix, like Orfeh said. I'm doing a little bit of ROCKY, I might even throw in a GROUNDHOG DAY moment in there, and she's doing songs from LOVE JANIS, things that we've performed. But we've also made a good set list of songs that fit well for us. It's going to be a great night, really fun, a lot of up-tempo and of course, we'll throw in a few ballads just to calm the evening down. But get ready to stomp your feet and clap your hands.
BWW: What are you most looking forward to about the show?
Orfeh: Well you know those crazy Christmas parties or holiday parties that you go to and inevitably there's a baby grand piano in the middle of the room and someone sneaks out the songbooks and you have a few singers in the room, and sure enough, without a doubt, once people are a little bit tipsy, the host is like, 'hey, why don't we all sing?' So we wanted to make this like an experience where you're in an intimate setting, in our home and we just happen to have gotten sauced enough to get up and start singing, you know, very informal, we love it when people interact. And we wanted to do songs that people know, and get really excited to hear, even pop songs that you love, or you've heard a million times. And the holiday songs we're doing are very popular holiday songs. So I'm looking forward to the audience saying, 'Oh my God, I love this song, I can't believe they're doing it!' You know it's December, you want everyone to have a really good time, and it's also a hard month to spend money on anything but gifts, so I want to make it worth people's while that they came and they ate and they drank and they walk away saying, 'gosh, that was a good investment!'
Andy Karl: Yes, actually they are having a special Black Friday Sale at 54 Below, and that will give people more incentive to buy tickets. [see details below!] Not that they don't have enough incentive - they're basically getting two Tony-nominated stars for the price of one!
Orfeh: Oh stop it! You better put your tongue in your cheek really, really hard, so people don't think you're serious! But truthfully, we don't get to do shows together often because our schedules are so busy, and after Andy gets back into rehearsal for GROUNDHOG DAY, it will be back to just boring ol' me in solo concerts.
Andy Karl: Hey, I'd buy that ticket!
Orfeh: So I would try to see the both of us together before he gets caught up in the whole season. It's not going to be so easy to pin him down and get him to do some concerts after that.
Andy Karl: We've both been very busy and when you have two people who work a lot, being able to put up a show is not an easy task. So we've mixed medleys together and songs that speak to today's times but also holiday tunes that speak well for our set list, that won't feel like you're listening to one ballad after the next. So a lot of thought has gone into this because we really wanted to put on a good show. And when we get to work together, it's sort of like a paid vacation!
BWW: I was thinking about the many wonderful shows you have both starred in, many of which have been stage adaptations of iconic films. In all of your experience, what do you think makes for a successful film-to-stage transfer?
Orfeh: Well I think part of it is to take the source material and don't stray wildly far away from it, because there's a reason that movie was a hit, a hit big enough to be transferred to the stage. So you don't want to stray too far away from what it was that made it so beloved in the first place. I think I've ever only done movies to musicals and Andy's now doing GROUNDHOG DAY, which I was lucky enough to see five times in London because I couldn't get enough! And with that show, I think it got even more wonderful than the film, and that's one of the best films of its genre ever! GROUNDHOG DAY is just simply brilliant, I could watch it all day, everyday and never get tired of it. But with the musical, you take what's amazing about it, you keep the core central nerve of the characters and then you make it even better because there's more freedom in a musical because the characters are bursting into song. So there's so much you can say, there are so many more places you can go, and I think that's what makes a successful transfer. Hey, sometimes they tank, and they tank really hard, I'm not going to mention those. But you know, when it's right, that's when you get the magic. And with GROUNDHOG DAY, Danny Rubin actually wrote the book to the musical, he's one of the co-writers of the movie, so when you've got the people that actually were involved originally, then it's kind of hard to screw it up.
Andy Karl: Yeah, I think it comes down to the creative team as well. I mean you have Tim Minchin and Matthew Warchus, Danny Rubin. Tim and Matthew worked on MATILDA together and now as a sophomore piece, they wrote this amazing show. So yes, your source material is hilarious and also, there is something very deep about this movie. And I think that's why people keep going back and watching it over and over again. There's something very deep about what it says about human nature, and I think the musical examines that even more. The musical can blow up these huge ideas that there are within the movie, the idea of re-living the same day over and over again, and the idea that the character is both the protagonist and the antagonist as well. That's something that's not been done before in a musical, at least from what I know, and I'm very excited about that. You know for me, there was something with ROCKY, and now there's something with GROUNDHOG DAY that is innovative and both shows try out things in the theater that haven't been done before, like a twenty-minute boxing match, for example.
BWW: Oh my goodness, I still say to this day that that boxing match was the most exciting thing I have ever experienced in theater.
Orfeh: I agree, and probably likely to ever see again. That was so beyond anything anyone had ever seen and it was so brilliant that if they had just made the show about that for two hours, I don't know!
Andy Karl: I would have been exhausted!
Orfeh: No it's really like you said, it was one of the most riveting, heart-stopping things you've ever seen on stage and I'm just glad we all got to see it.
Andy Karl: And I think much like these shows that we get to do, we just don't want to slap up something that's going to be your usual night for this concert at Feinstein's/54 Below. We really want to make it an interesting journey with us, and sing songs that are close to us, as far as how we feel about each other and how we feel about what we do, and also how we feel about music. So there's a lot of thought that goes into it.
BWW: I know you both have very busy schedules, but would you like to star together in a Broadway show again at some point in the future?
Orfeh: Are you kidding me? All the time!
Andy Karl: Easiest job ever!
Orfeh: We really have a good time working together. I can't speak on every couple who's ever worked together on film or on stage, but we sure get along probably even better in a professional environment. The chemistry is really good when we work.
Andy Karl: Yeah, and we've got a few ideas that we're ready to throw out there for anyone who will listen.
Orfeh: Yes, we've written some pilots, we've written some treatments, we write a lot so who knows. Listen, it might not happen until we're 90. But it's about putting your creative juices out there and see what hits and what works and what people connect to. We just got to keep on moving!
Orfeh and Andy Karl will be appearing in "Legally Bound" at Feinstein's/54 Below from December 8 - 14th. Click here for tickets and more information. For special Black Friday Sale, use code BOUND20 for 20% off Main Dining Room and Bar Rail. Offer begins 12:01 am on November 25th and ends at 11:59pm on November 27th.
Follow Caryn Robbins at @CarynRobbins
ROCKY Photo: Walter McBride
GROUNDHOG DAY photo: Manuel Harlan
Orfeh at 54 Below: Genevieve Rafter Keddy