Andrew Keenan-Bolger on pioneering the SIP hashtag, ‘Andrew’s Blog’ and tonight’s Broadway Unlocked concert

Andrew Keenan-Bolger. Photo credit: StageDoorDish.com.

Andrew Keenan-Bolger. Photo credit: StageDoorDish.com.

Andrew Keenan-Bolger has mastered the art of connecting with an audience on social media. Whether it’s through his monthly mixtapes posted on his website, a silly episode of Andrew’s Blog on YouTube or the infamous #SIP (Saturday Intermission Pic) hashtag, Keenan-Bolger is a guy who knows the power that the Internet possesses.

And, in just a couple short hours, Keenan-Bolger will be joining other notable Broadway performers onstage to perform at the Broadway Unlocked concert which marks the first live web-broadcast concert.

Not only does the concert bring at-home audiences into the front row for a live-event with some of their favorite Broadway stars but it serves as a fundraising benefit the Crime Victims Treatment Center (CVTC).

Keenan-Bolger spoke to me about why he wanted to participate with the concert, his involvement with pioneering a weekly global hashtag and why he decided to disconnect the table in his apartment.

SDD: Why did you want to get involved with Broadway Unlocked and what can you say about your involvement in the show?

AKB: Originally Nathan Tysen who wrote for Tuck Everlasting approached me and said, ‘My friends are doing something cool. I would love if you would be able to perform one of our songs in it. Let me know if you are interested.’ Honestly I didn’t even read up on it, I just took Nathan’s word because I really trust him. I was like, ‘Absolutely, I want to get involved.’ Then once I saw what they were doing with the whole crowdfunding aspect of it, I totally admired them and thought they were doing something really cool and something I haven’t really seen before. Any time someone harnesses technology in a new sort of way it really piques my interest. I am going to be performing a song in the concert. They are doing some things that I don’t even know about. They are doing some sort of social media thing involving Twitter questions and other things like that. They are doing so much more than performing and I think any chance to do that in a concert setting is fun. You can interact with everyone. I think that’s a really cool idea.

SDD: Can you tell me anything about your set list?

AKB: I’m not sure about the entire set list, but I am going to be singing a song by Chris Miller and Nathan Tysen.

SDD: You are obviously very well connected on social media. What’s the appeal for you and why do you think it’s an important thing in today’s society?

AKB: Right when social media started happening, I didn’t have an agenda. I wasn’t just like, ‘Oh, I’m going to dominate this.’ It was sort of what was interesting to my group of friends. YouTube came out around my sophomore year of college and we had a camera and just started filming stuff. I didn’t think anyone else would watch it other than our friends at school. In that way, technology has sort of guided me more than anything. I definitely learned that in this industry, it is a powerful thing to have a handle on social media. I feel like a large reason for why people have seen my stuff is because I already sort of had a built-in following. I think it’s also important to have a page for if you do concerts so you can put all your stuff out there. I also think the thing about Twitter, Facebook and YouTube is you can have this interaction with people. There are so many fans I have talked to and so many other actors that I wouldn’t normally have a connection with. I really try to get a dialogue started on places like Twitter and YouTube. I like to watch other people’s videos on YouTube and comment on them. I think that is how I have cast the net pretty wide in terms of social media because I’m commenting on things as well. I am putting things out there hoping that people will watch it.

SDD: Will Andrew’s Blog become more active in the future? You went three months without posting a mix tape and I am waiting for more news!

AKB: Truthfully, while I was working on Submissions Only I disconnected my television and my internet because I had so much work to get done and I had way too many distractions. Hopefully it will pick up again now that I have Internet back. I am keeping the cable out but there are a lot of interesting things going on with the Internet. I was just spending too much time on Facebook. Hopefully now that Submissions Only has wrapped I will have more time because I love doing the Andrew’s Blog stuff and making random videos with my friends.

SDD: You’re definitely overdue for some new videos.

AKB: It’s true.

SDD: Why did you start SIPs?

AKB: It wasn’t even my idea. My friend who was on the Spamalot tour did it. There was a time when the Spamalot, Xanadu and Mary Poppins tours were all in Chicago at the same time. Max Von Essen was with Xanadu, and I was in Mary Poppins and my friend Daryl was like, ‘Let’s take pictures and make an SIP.’ We were the first three people to do it. Now Daryl lives in L.A. and works in films but Max and I have definitely rebirthed it into the current existence it is now.

SDD: Do you have a favorite SIP?

AKB: It was right at the beginning and we were all excited because people were checking them out and other shows were doing them. I decided to get a group [of Newsies actors] to go up to the top of the building and spell SIP with our bodies and I was going to go up to take it. That was my favorite one. We also got in so much trouble for it, as we should have. We were like lying down in our costumes up on fire escapes. But the memory of when we got busted was great. We were like, ‘Ah, this is awesome!’

SDD: Did you ever think that it would become a worldwide phenomenon on Twitter?

AKB: No, I still check all the SIPs every week. There are some from Australia, Amsterdam and the UK. It’s crazy! I’m glad everybody does it because I think everybody relates to it. There is always such a hilarious world that the audience never sees that goes on backstage. It doesn’t matter if you are doing a comedy or a serious play because that stage is pretty similar. It was cool to get to show that to the world.

This is a fragment of an extensive interview with Keenan-Bolger which will be published on Stage Door Dish soon. 

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About Samantha S.

"I found the theatre and I found my home.” ― Audra McDonald