Sean Allan Krill is an American actor who has crafted a career on Broadway, off Broadway, at prestigious regional theatres, and in TV. We got time to speak with Sean about Jane Austen, Mamma Mia and the exciting show Jagged Little Pill, which will be heading to Broadway.
How did you get into acting, was there a particular performance you saw that resonated with you?
The summer after I graduated from high school, I saw the national tour of Les Miserables in Detroit, Michigan. I was so moved by the production, the piece, and the performances; I very clearly remember thinking: “This is incredible. This is what I want to do with my life.”
What has been your favourite role you have played and why?
I was fortunate enough to be a part of a new musical adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility”, written by Tony Award-nominee Paul Gordon. It’s absolutely beautiful. I played Colonel Brandon, and it is without a doubt my favourite role to date. Such a remarkable character, and so beautifully adapted into musical form by Paul Gordon.
Where did you train?
I studied acting at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.
Can you tell us a bit about your last show Jagged Little Pill?
Oh how I love this show – truly madly, deeply. Synopsis? Okay, I play Steve Healy, the patriarch of a seemingly perfect Connecticut family. From the outside he and his wife, Mary Jane, son Nick and adopted daughter Frankie appear to have it all. But on the inside much (too much) remains unspoken and unaddressed. The musical is so beautifully crafted, and I’m so grateful to play a part in developing such an important and timely piece of theatre. Without giving too much away Jagged Little Pill shines a spotlight on struggles many people currently face in our society, and the frustrations and hypocrisies involved in living in a world that sees you as less-than, and forces you to be something you’re not. But ultimately, I think JLP is about healing, hope, and love. It’s really a valentine to the idea that as human beings our greatest strength is each other; we can help heal each other through communication, understanding, and acceptance. Plus, it’s really funny and heart-warming – and the music is truly unbelievable. Alanis’s music has so much passion and theatricality to it. It’s a dream to perform.
Is there any truth in the show coming to London can you tell us please?!
Wouldn’t that be amazing? I wish I knew. I’m just an actor! Ha! What I do know is that the focus currently is to get the show to Broadway – and there are definitely wheels in motion to do just that. After that, who knows? I’m sure the hope is that the show can be shared all over the world. Fingers crossed!
Where has been your favourite place to perform on stage and why?
I made my Broadway debut in Mamma Mia! about 10 years ago, and at the time the show was at the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway. It was unbelievable; to perform on a stage that has played such a prominent role in American theatre. I kept thinking, “I’m breathing the same dust as Al Jolson, Josephine Baker, Fanny Brice…” The list goes on in such an historic place. It was a dream come true to perform there.
What is the most rewarding thing about your work?
I love being an actor. I love telling stories; I think theatre, art, music – they can be a salve for the soul. I like to think – I hope – that somewhere out there in the dark, maybe, just maybe, there is someone watching who might be helped, perhaps nudged in the right direction, or comforted by seeing themselves in the story – conflicted, struggling, understood, empathised with. After a performance of Jagged Little Pill (in Cambridge, Massachusetts) a woman came up to me in tears and said, “I… I don’t know what to say to you except that I can’t wait to go home to my husband and tell him how much I love and appreciate him.” And I said, “Yes! Do that!” Moments like that make me feel like, Okay, okay, Sean, you’re doing okay! I might be deluded, but that’s the reason I love acting. Better to try to be part of the solution than not try at all, right?
What’s been a funny moment for you on stage? Any mishaps you want to share!?
I was doing a production of Brigadoon many years, playing Tommy. The opening of Act 2 opens with the entire village chasing Harry Beaton, who has threatened to leave the magical village. All there will die if he does. So we chase. We sing and we chase, and we sing more about chasing. Harry is tripped, accidentally hits his head on a rock and dies. The way this was achieved in our production was that the actor playing Mr. McClaren would kneel down to Harry’s upstage turned face with a blood packet hidden in his hand, squeeze it, then lift his blood-stained hand and announce to us that Harry was dead. One night the blood packet just would not burst. Mr. McClaren struggled and struggled (which basically looked to everyone like he was mangling Harry’s face) until finally, it popped. A giant, thick arc of fake blood shot over Harry’s body, toward the audience, and loudly splattered onto the floor in a huge gory puddle. The audience gasped. Those of us on stage were just as shocked by it, but our reaction was instantaneous, uncontrollable laughter. It looked as if Mr. McClaren had knelt down and gouged out Harry’s eyes. It was hilarious, and everyone on stage (and the audience) could not stop giggling for the rest of the very somber scene. Let me just say – singing when you’re laughing is no easy thing!
If you hadn’t had been an actor what would you be doing?
I love to take photographs, and I love art. If I wasn’t an actor, I would be an artist of some kind, for sure. Also, I would love to direct – either for the stage or the camera.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Photography, for sure. I learn my lines. I read. I write. I learn my lines. I sing. I play guitar. Sometimes I write songs, and then I learn my lines.
What advice would you give to someone who would like to get into the theatre industry?
Develop a thick skin. The highs are wonderful in this business, but the lows can be devastating. Imagine interviewing for a new job again and again and again… for the rest of your career. It never stops. To survive you have to become accustomed to rejection, because you just will not get all the jobs. In fact, you won’t get most. The important thing to remember is that it has almost nothing to do with you, and has everything to do with the puzzle the creatives are trying to put together. Sometimes you fit, and that’s wonderful – but sometimes you don’t, and that has virtually nothing to do with your abilities or talents!
Who are your influences and inspirations?
Okay. The devastating, aching truth of anything Judy Garland did. Gene Kelly. Kathryn Hepburn. Jimmy Stewart. Alan Rickman. I love Judi Dench, Emma Thompson, Meryl Streep. I’m drawn to actors whose techniques are based in truth. Even in comedy. Actually, especially in comedy. There is performing, and there is acting. The former usually garners more attention, but I prefer the latter. Or at least actors that start there. If they end up with a combination of both, that’s Brilliance!
What’s next for you?
I’m working on a new television show called Godfather of Harlem – just a very small role, but I’m excited about it. I will be reuniting with the cast and creative staff of Jagged Little Pill for a three-week developmental lab in December, in anticipation of a Broadway opening next year. On that front, it all seems imminent, but there has been nothing definitive announced. Fingers crossed!
What’s your go to song for auditions or just singing in the shower?
Well of course lately I’ve been singing a lot of Alanis Morissette in the shower. I’m sure my neighbours are very sick of hearing “Mary Jane” & “So Unsexy” coming from my apartment. But that’s New York! And, hmmm, if I’m auditioning? I’m a sucker for those old-school musical theatre songs. Gershwin, Berlin, Rodgers & Hart. There’s a little-known song by Cole Porter called “You’ve Got That Thing” that I sing all the time for auditions. It’s gotten me the part many times. Thanks, Cole!
Is there a role (regardless of gender) you would love to play in a musical?
Hmm. I don’t really have many ‘bucket list’ roles – but I’ve always wanted to play Javert in Les Miserables. Always. From the first time I saw the show at 18, that’s the role I was drawn to. I love a complex, conflicted villain. I’d love to take a crack at Sweeney Todd. Delicious.
Where can people follow your work on Twitter/Facebook/YouTube etc?