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Behind the Scenes
Celia Keenan-Bolger in 'The Glass Menagerie' (Photo: Michael J. Lutch)

20 Questions for Celia Keenan-Bolger of ‘The Glass Menagerie’

The Tony-nominated actress on the delights of Manhattan and Brooklyn, dealing with cellphones during a performance, and acting in a Tennessee Williams' classic

Celia Keenan-Bolger, 35, is nothing if not versatile. Her current Broadway role, the painfully shy Laura Wingfield in the revival of Tennessee Williams’ timeless classic The Glass Menagerie is the exact opposite of her last characterization, the fearless Molly in Peter and the Starcatcher, the rollicking retelling of the Peter Pan legend for which she received a Tony nomination. She first drew attention and garnered a previous Tony nomination as Olive Ostrovsky, a meek middle-school contestant in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, then dazzled audiences by switching to the feisty Eponine in the revival of Les Miserables. Menagerie, which also stars Cherry Jones (Doubt), Zachary Quinto (Star Trek films) and Brian J. Smith is scheduled to open Sept. 26 at the Booth Theater.

Bolger’s younger siblings Andrew and Maggie also tread the boards. Andrew made his Broadway debut as Chip in Beauty and the Beast and was in the original company of Newsies while Maggie has appeared in the national tours of The Music Man and The Will Rogers Follies and is the author of the play From the Inside, Out. Bolger, a Detroit native, graduated from the University of Michigan and currently lives in the Union Square neighborhood with her husband, actor John Ellison Conlee (The Full Monty, Murder Ballad).

Celia Keenan-Bolger and Brian J. Smith

Celia Keenan-Bolger and Brian J. Smith in ‘The Glass Menagerie’ (Photo: Michael J. Lutch)

NY: What’s your favorite part of being Laura Wingfield?

I love getting to perform with Zach, Cherry and Brian. They are three of the greatest actors I’ve ever worked with and we have such a wonderful time both onstage and off.

NY: What’s your dream role?

I don’t really have a dream role. I have people I’d love to work with. Annie Baker, Amy Herzog, Sam Gold, Paula Vogel and Daniel Aukin (just to name a few) are all making theater that consistently inspires and amazes me.

NY: What’s your warm-up routine like before a show? Do you have any lucky charms or unusual rituals?

I usually warm up my voice and my body before a show. I try to check in with all of the actors and see how everyone’s doing while they are in their dressing rooms. You learn so much about people doing a play with them eight times a week. It’s becomes a very intimate relationship, and I love that part of the job.

NY: What’s the most embarrassing (or funniest or weirdest) thing that’s ever happened to you on stage?

When I was doing Peter and the Starcatcher, there was a cell phone alarm that went off 30 minutes before the show ended and kept going off every three minutes. We endured it about five times. I finally walked down to the edge of the stage and promised the audience we wouldn’t be mad at the person whose cellphone it was, but asked for them to please turn it off. It took a long time for the person to fess up but they turned it off, the audience cheered and we went on with the show.

NY: What do you do after a show to unwind?

I love when my husband comes to meet me at the theater and we go get a bite or drink with the cast or friends who’ve come to see the show that night.

NY: What’s your favorite thing about New York?

It feels like there is something for everyone in New York. You can have an amazing meal, you can experience all kinds of culture, you can be active or you can relax in a park, the options are limitless.

NY: What’s your least favorite thing about New York?

The garbage smells of summer.

NY: What’s one thing every tourist must do when in NYC?

I love a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge with a stop at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory.

Cherry Jones, and Celia Keenan-Bolger

Cherry Jones, and Celia Keenan-Bolger in ‘The Glass Menagerie’ (Photo: Michael J. Lutch)

NY: Favorite only in New York moment?

On Ninth Avenue I saw a guy walking a rabbit on a leash and not one person acknowledged it.

NY: Best/favorite NYC celebrity sighting?

I liked seeing Steve Buscemi on the subway when I first moved here.

NY: Cab, subway, bus or walk?

I’m a subway girl, but when the weather is good I really enjoy the CitiBikes.

NY: What’s your favorite New York restaurant?

For a cheap meal, I love Mogador. For a fancy meal, it does not get better than ABC Kitchen.

NY: What’s the best pizza in NYC?

Two Boots.

NY: Gray’s Papaya or Magnolia Bakery?

Magnolia.

NY: Brooklyn Bridge or Chrysler Building?

Brooklyn Bridge.

Zachary Quinto, Cherry Jones, and Celia Keenan-Bolger

Zachary Quinto, Cherry Jones, and Celia Keenan-Bolger in ‘The Glass Menagerie’ (Photo: Michael J. Lutch)

NY: Where do you go for a post-theater…coffee, glass of wine, dessert, etc.

I love the Glass House Tavern on 47th Street.

NY: If family members were coming to the show, where would you recommend they eat around the theater?

Dervish has wonderful Turkish food, Havana Central is great for Cuban and I love Bond 45 for Italian. Blossom du Jour for vegan/veggie.

NY: Is there a special place/spot in NYC you love the most?

There are so many but I think Madison Square Park is really underrated.

NY: What’s your perfect night out in the city?

A great dinner with friends in Brooklyn.

NY: What do you most enjoy doing on a day off?

My ideal day off would start at Laughing Lotus yoga in the morning and then breakfast/lunch with my husband in our neighborhood [in Union Square] at Taboonette. I’d go for a walk down to Washington Square and grab a coffee at Stumptown or Joe’s. Then meet up with my brother and sister who also live in Manhattan and we’d all have dinner together.

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