Alan has been performing in and around the Philly/South Jersey area for over 25 years. He has been married to his wonderful wife Donna for 30 years as of May of this year and has three talented children, Lindsey, A.J., and Lisa, who also perform. He was last seen on the BCF 2nd stage in the Pulitzer Prize winning play, Clybourne Park. Other BCF appearances include The Fox On The Fairway (Dickie Bell), The Who’s Tommy (Uncle Ernie), How To Succeed…(Twimble/Womper), Glengarry Glen Ross (George Arronow), Little Shop of Horrors (Mushnik), The Foreigner (Charlie Baker), Assassins (Hinckley), and Urinetown (Lockstock). Other area appearances include You Can’t Take It With You (Paul Sycamore), A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum (Pseudolus), and The Full Monty (Dave Bukatinsky) at the Ritz Theatre; also Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Pharaoh) and Children of Eden (Father) with McMagical Productions.
Mr. Krier kindly agreed to share thoughts on his craft. We conducted the following interview via email 7/2/17 – 7/3/17.
Critique Compendium: After seeing you wear those sweaters in The Fox on the Fairway, I have to ask the question readers are dying to know: did the title really refer to Bailey Shaw’s character?
Al Krier: Well, I don’t think anyone would ever mistake me for a fox so I would say, “Yes.” The incredibly talented and lovely Bailey Shaw is the fox to whom the title refers.
Critique Compendium: You’ve done serious drama (Glengarry, Glen Ross) as well as farces (The Fox on the Fairway). In Clybourne Park you played both a serious role and the comic relief. Are there differences in how you prepare for dramatic versus comedic roles?
Al Krier: In a dramatic role I typically look at the script and the situation and try to determine how I would react if the events of the story were actually happening to me. I try to think of the character’s back story to help give it some depth.
When it comes to comedy I will do just about anything to get a laugh. I also look to some of my comic heroes such as John Belushi and John Candy. I’m not ashamed to say I steal from them whenever I can.
Critique Compendium: You’ve also performed in musicals such as Tommy and How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying. Those shows were quite a departure from your other work. Why did you decide to perform in them?
Al Krier: I’ve been doing musicals since the mid ‘90s. Tommy is the definitive rock opera and I’ve been listening to it since the early ‘70s and I saw the movie in the theatre when it came out in 1975 so I’ve always been a fan. To get a chance to be a part of it and sing those songs with a live band was just awesome.
How To Succeed… is one of those quintessential musicals that I had on my bucket list. I don’t think there is a better closing number in musical theatre than “Brotherhood of Man.”
Critique Compendium: Your son A. J. and your daughter Lindsey also perform. Did they learn the craft from you?
Al Krier: I would love to say that I taught them everything they know but they are both uniquely talented in their own right.
Lindsey has been involved in the performing arts since she was 3-4 years old and while I would say that my involvement in theatre may have influenced her, I think she would have gone that route anyway. She has done some incredible work. My favorites are Natalie in Next to Normal (brought tears to my eyes) and Kate Monster in Avenue Q. She is currently rehearsing for Beauty and the Beast at the Ritz Theatre.
A.J. got involved in theatre on his own when he went away to college. He auditioned for a show on a whim and has been acting since then. He has performed in dramas, comedies, and musicals. His senior capstone project was an amazing one man show called Thom Pain (based on nothing) by Will Eno. It was an incredible performance for which he won an award.
My youngest daughter, Lisa, has also been involved from a very young age – she’ll be a sophomore in high school this fall. She dances with The Next Stage Dance Company but has also been on stage at BCF as the young girl in Dracula. I got to share the stage with her in Scrooge: The Musical at the Ritz several years ago.
Critique Compendium: You and Lindsey both performed in Tommy at Burlington County Footlighters. What was it like sharing the stage with your daughter?
Al Krier: I was very proud to share the stage in Tommy, especially since she also choreographed it. We’ve done a few shows together but we really haven’t had any scenes together. It’s always fun to work with family.
Critique Compendium: You selected David Lindsey-Abaire’s Pulitzer Prize winning play Rabbit Hole for your directorial debut. What interested you in that project?
Al Krier: Rabbit Hole was the first show my son did at college. When we drove up to his school to see the show, first we were blown away at his acting. Then I thought that the play itself was outstanding and would be a perfect fit for the BCF stage. I decided right then that would be the first show I direct.
Critique Compendium: Do you plan on directing again?
Al Krier: I would like to direct again. There is a one act play I would like to put on The 2nd Stage and I have a few ideas for the main stage but nothing scheduled yet.
Critique Compendium: You and Dan Brothers have worked together on several projects. The two of you have fantastic chemistry as both a dramatic and comedy duo. What’s it like working with him?
Al Krier: Dan is the best! I will share a stage with him anytime. He is very generous as an actor and we are always able to bounce ideas off one another. I can’t say why it works but it does and I’m just very happy that it does.
Critique Compendium: What first interested you in the performing arts?
Al Krier: One of the first plays I ever saw was when my brother was in a high school performance of Heaven Can Wait. I was just enamored with the entire experience and could not wait for my chance to try it.
My parents always took us to see movie musicals and I distinctly remember seeing Oliver at the movies. My parents bought the soundtrack album and I used to listen to it all the time.
Sometime in the late 70s they took us to see A Chorus Line at the Forrest Theatre in Philly. Just a great experience. I just always loved watching live performances including rock concerts. That’s pretty much all I did in the 80’s – went to concerts and got married. But I digress, movie musicals, my brother’s show, A Chorus Line, rock concerts.
Critique Compendium: What types of things make you want to play a role?
Al Krier: There are roles that I want to play because they are a perfect fit for me and then there are roles that are a challenge. I enjoy both because the ones for which I am perfect, I can go on stage and feel very confident. The roles that are a challenge make me feel accomplished if I am successful at performing them.
Critique Compendium: What’s been you’re favorite role that you’ve performed?
Al Krier: Dave Bukatinsky in The Full Monty at The Ritz Theatre. Just an incredible experience from the show itself to the cast & crew and the audience reaction. If you know the show it is about a bunch of out-of-work guys trying to make some money by stripping. In real life I had just been laid off from my job that I had for 23 years so that part of it was completely relatable. I love the music in the show and we had just a perfect group of guys.
Critique Compendium: What’s the most difficult role you’ve played?
Al Krier: I always wanted to play Pseodolus in A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum. I got my chance to do that at The Ritz and I just don’t think it was my best performance. I was full of nerves every night before the show and that doesn’t happen to me very often. My comedic instincts just didn’t seem to gel with the part. I can’t say why – it was just one of those things.
Critique Compendium: Describe your most memorable moment on stage.
Al Krier: Going back to The Full Monty, one particular night let’s just say there was a lighting miscue at a very important part of the show. We performed that show over 20 times with close to sold out shows every time, yet it seems that no matter who I meet that says they saw that show, claims they were there the night of the lighting mishap.
Critique Compendium: What actors have influenced you?
Al Krier: There are so many but DeNiro and Pacino are probably the most influential. I’ve just enjoyed watching them in so many films it’s hard not to be influenced. John Candy has also been an inspiration just for his natural comedic delivery – gone way too soon.
Critique Compendium: If you had the opportunity to work with any other actor either living or dead, who would it be?
Al Krier: Again, too many. DeNiro would be up there. Also, Spencer Tracy. His delivery of lines was just so natural. Watch him in Inherit the Wind. One of my all-time favorites.
Critique Compendium: What do you do when you’re not on stage?
Al Krier: When I’m not on stage I wonder why I’m not on stage. Just kidding. In real life I’m a technical instructor. I teach technicians how to fix copiers. Everything from basic xerography to networking. Pretty boring stuff.
As far as hobbies I just started getting back into one of my childhood hobbies of building and flying model rockets. It’s been and on again off again hobby that I really enjoy. I also enjoy golf but I don’t get to play nearly enough and I really suck at it.
Critique Compendium: How do you balance a career, family and other activities with the demands of performing in community theater productions?
Al Krier: Since my entire family is involved in theatre there is an understanding when it comes to the demands. We all know that there will be struggles, time commitments, scheduling conflicts, etc. There are no guidelines for balance, we just do our best. Most of the time it works, when it doesn’t we figure it out.
Critique Compendium: What do you bring to your roles that other performers don’t?
Al Krier: I bring Al Krier. Nobody else can say they are Al Krier.
Seriously, I can’t say what others don’t bring. Obviously I won’t name names but I’ve worked with some actors that simply struggled to deliver a line naturally. That may seem like a simple thing but I will practice a single line over and over again until I think it is coming out in a very natural, conversational way. I don’t know if I have always been successful at that, but I know that is always my goal.
Critique Compendium: How would you like audiences to remember you?
Al Krier: I would hope they would say, “Remember that guy, in that show that time, yea, he was really good. So what are you ordering?” I would hope audiences remembered that they were entertained anytime they saw me on stage and that if they met me after the show I was gracious and humble. And that they didn’t avoid a show because they saw my name in the cast list.
Critique Compendium: If I asked people with whom you’ve performed what it was like working with you, what would they tell me?
Al Krier: Hopefully, they would say that I was someone that they could trust on stage and was completely committed to the role. And funny, heavy on the funny.
Critique Compendium: What advice would you give to young people interested in participating in the performing arts?
Al Krier: Do it! Don’t be afraid. There is nothing like being involved in a production and watching it go from the first read through to the final product. I’ve worked with a lot of young people and I’ve always found that the kids that are involved in the performing arts are always the ones that are exceling in school. The two seem to go hand in hand.
Critique Compendium: What’s next for you?
Al Krier: I’ll probably have some lunch. Oh you mean in life, theatre etc. Ok, gotcha. I don’t have anything in the pipeline right now. I started a new job in February so I’m still getting my bearings in that respect. I do have a few shows I am looking at for which I may audition but I haven’t decided yet. We’ll see how things go.