CMU School of Drama

Friday, April 21, 2017

Injured but Determined, Andy Karl Opens ‘Groundhog Day’

The New York Times: He wore a large black brace around his left knee. He limped a bit through the second act, and he skipped a few moves.

But on Monday night, the actor Andy Karl triumphantly pulled off the kind of performance Broadway loves to celebrate: In a poignant demonstration of the show-must-go-on ethic, he led the opening night production of “Groundhog Day” just 72 hours after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in full view of the audience at a Friday night preview.

9 comments:

Megan Jones said...

I can't imagine how scary it must have been to have that severe of an injury onstage in front of an audience. The timing of this couldn't be worse for Andy Karl, as this is a crucial point in the show's production. It's honestly crazy to think that he has to continue to perform until at least April 28th in order to be eligible for the Tony's. As much as I admire his perseverance and dedication to the role, I'm not sure if continuing in this part past this cut off date would be a good idea for him. A torn ACL can take months to fully heal, and even with the edited staging of the show he will still be putting a lot of strain on his knee. When I was in high school our Val in A Chorus Line tore her ACL three weeks before opening and chose to leave the production. Even though dropping out of the show was emotionally hard for her it was much more important for her to focus on healing. Obviously a Broadway production is completely different scale of show than this, but I still believe that health should come first no matter what level you're working at.

Rebecca Meckler said...

This is a great example of the show must go on mentality. I think it’s great that that Andy Karl was able to go on and perform, despite his injury. However, I worry that this will set a precedent for other injured actors who might not be able to perform. Some people might not feel comfortable performing with a torn ACL, or any other type of injury, and people might reference Karl as a way to force them onstage. One of the major factors that allowed Karl to perform was that they reworked certain elements in the show. If the show had not been reworked to accommodate Karl, he most likely would have not been able to perform or would have hurt himself even more trying to perform. I hope that people remember that before they encourage people who are injured to perform. Overall, I’m impressed that Karl was willing and able to perform after such a severe injury.

Marisa Rinchiuso said...

Grit and determination are understatements for Andy Karl's amazing performance. This situation could have sidelined anybody, and being so close to opening, nobody would of argued if he decided to sit it out. It was very admirable for him to pull through and perform on opening night. However, I hope that for the rest of the week, and possibly longer, they put in the understudy. I'm sure it must be exciting to be a part of the opening of a new broadway show, but he needs to focus on getting better now. Aside from his own personal recovery, I'm sure the show is going to suffer major financial losses from Karl's absences. Being such a broadway icon, it's going to be hard to balance his and everyone's desire to get back to the show with the fact that an ACL tear will have a long recovery period. I really think the company should be applauded though on their fast and efficient response to the situation and the way they made the old saying "the show must go on" true.

Julian Goldman said...

The fact that he continued the show after an injury that severe is kind of insane. I mean, I get the feeling that the show must go on, but there is a point where that actually isn’t true. At first when I was reading this, I was very confused as to why he performed so soon after they knew how severe the injury was, given that I assume there must be an understudy, but I do understand why he’d want to make sure to remain eligible for a Tony. That being said, is that really worth the risk of potentially exacerbating his injury and doing long term damage? That is a call only he can make, and for all I know doctors told him it was perfectly fine, but my guess is that performing wasn’t the most medically advised decision, and I think it is dangerous to prioritize a show over the safety of the people involved, including yourself.

Evan Schild said...

I am all about the show must go on mentality. Andy Karl was very strong and brave to continue to perform after he got very injured. Also if he had not performed the show would have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in ticket refunds. The show has been having problems in previews so I think he knew he couldn’t end the show. One thing that I am not sure I like is the fact that they are changing the show because he is hurt. An audience deserves to see what the show is supposed to be not an altered version because someone got hurt. I think they should just have the understudy go on. I understand that this would impact the tony votes possibly? But what is more important, an award or the shows artistic integrity. I am still amazed that he is able to perform such a hard role with such a big injury.

Sarah Battaglia said...

The theater I think is a pretty incredible industry for a lot of reasons but the commitment of the people who work on it is probably the most astounding. This article describes what I think a lot of actors worst nightmare, they are hurt and they have to make the decision to go on or not. I would but that pretty much every actor I know would go on if they were able. Just last week when I went to see Three Musketeers one of the actresses was hurt in the middle of a sword fight, and she went on for the second act. It was one of the bravest things I have seen an actor do in a long time. She was visibly hurt but she pulled through and did a fantastic job for the second act, sword fights and all. Theater as a taxing and dangerous business in all of its departments and I believe that the reason we are able to pull such incredible things off is because of the commitment that each person in a theater makes every night as the show starts; to do everything possible to finish to matter what.

Zak Biggins said...

First of all, I want to address a general commercial theatre problem: the conversion of movies to musicals. So much of broadway right now is basically just reinventing a movie and adding some music. We have seen this particular issue manifest itself largely over the last decade: Legally Blonde: the musical, Heathers, The Color Purple, Amelie, Matilda, School of Rock, Spiderman etc... Now there is not really a problem regarding movies turning into musicals-some of them are actually done quite well- however there seems to be a lack of originality amongst composers now a day (with the exception of Lin Manuel Miranda & Pasek and Paul). Now moving onto this specific show, to see the star actor get hurt in the very beginning of the run is concerning- what do the producers do? The understudies aren't rehearsed until the show is open and on its feet, they can't replace him because he is the STAR- this puts the show in a very tricky position. I am glad to hear Andy Karl is okay and is doing well because otherwise I think we'd be seeing a closing notice on playbill.com.

nick waddington said...

I think when most people say their blood, sweat, and tears went into something they generally mean they worked really hard on it. but in theater i think it is an incredibly applicable statement because the commitment we put in for shows as stagehands, or actors, or directors, dramaturgs, designers is a level of commitment that can only be classified as our blood, sweat, and tears. I think this article is practically every actor, and every stage manager's worst nightmare because how can you ask or expect someone to go on when they are so terribly hurt, and how can you make that decision for yourself, whether to possibly aggravate your injury further, or to abandon the production that you have poured your heart into. it is amazing what people are willing to do for the idea that the show must go on, and i think that's one of the most incredib;e things about the theater community.

William N. Lowe said...

I think that it is interesting how the show is valuing their eligibility for Tony Awards over the health of their lead actor. I understand that this is his decision; however, I feel like it would be at least reassuring to include in the article what the doctors say. No matter how acute, a full tear is a full tear and that needs to be handled carefully and correctly, not really something to just sit around and deal with later. I felt like it was fine until they began mentioned how the majority of the drive for him to continue performing was because of the Tony Awards, and while I would do a lot to meet Kevin Spacey, I don’t think that I would perform on a torn knee ligament. This seems like a lot of work to just make one puzzle piece fit, when that puzzle piece can be easily replaced.