Andy Karl tried, but there was no hiding from his wife. He’d come home from rehearsal, keeping his back to her. She laughed. “What are you doing?” she asked.
Then he turned round.
There it was. Plain as day. A black eye.
“It’s my own fault—I mean, I’m putting myself in harm’s way,” says Karl, star of the new musical Rocky, playing at the Winter Garden Theatre. “You take a role where gloves are coming at you—you’re gonna get hurt.”
All photos: Matthew Murphy
Based on the iconic film created by Sylvester Stallone, the production has music and lyrics by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens (Ragtime), book by Stallone and Tom Meehan (Annie, The Producers) and yes, Rocky Balboa sings.
He also throws some punches. Karl has trained at a local boxing gym and worked out six days a week for months to prep for the role.
“There are moments where the fighting looks real, not choreographed,” says Karl. “It’s an ambitious new line we’re riding, and I’m testing new ground—both physically and emotionally.”
A Baltimore native, Karl recently starred in Jersey Boys, The Mystery of Edwin Drood and—with his wife, Tony Award nominee Orfeh—Legally Blonde. The couple lives in downtown Manhattan.
So what does Karl do when he’s not onstage or in the ring?
“As long as I’m not getting punched in the face, I’m a happy person,” he says, laughing.
C’mon, Rocky. We asked the Broadway boxer for a few insider tips on where to go and what to do in New York City.
What keeps you here…besides your job?
It’s the least boring place in the world. Walk out your door and the whole world of culture, food, activity, is ALL HERE. It’s something you have to get used to when you first move to the city. But once you do, it’s busy and fantastic and wonderful. I spent a few months in L.A.—I was bored out of my miiiind.
And what drives you crazy about this town?
The construction—always. It’ll be a great city when they’re finished with it. Which will be …nevahhh.
Where should we go for…a good meal?
I love Q2 Thai in Hell’s Kitchen. I’m always sending people there. And my new favorite love is Tad’s Steaks across from the Winter Garden Theatre. It’s just, like—steak, protein, go. Sort of a traditional, New York low-end steak. It’s not fancy but it’s good. Or there’s Lucky Strike downtown—an old haunt for my wife and I, the site our first date. Q2 Thai, 788 Ninth Avenue (52nd/53rd Streets); 212-262-2236; Tad’s Steaks, 761 Seventh Avenue (50th Street); 212-767-8348; Lucky Strike, 50 Grand Street (Wooster/W. Broadway); 212-941-0772; luckystrikeny.com
…a great workout?
Citi Bike—I started last summer. Go down the bike path alongside the West Side Highway and the river. I love it. It’s beautiful—a little exercise, but you’re seeing the city from a different perspective. Citi Bike, 855-BIKE-311; citibikenyc.com
…a romantic stroll?
Greenwich Village. There are so many stores, restaurants, nooks and crannies you can dip into. And there’s usually something new, like…a cupcake factory, or something surprising like that. Magnolia Bakery, 401 Bleecker Street (11th Street.); 212-462-2572; magnoliabakery.com
…something NOT touristy, a little unexpected?
Seeing water in this city reminds you you’re on an island. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and head to DUMBO [Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass]—it’s a fun, out-of-the-way neighborhood. You can get something to eat, then take the water taxi back. In recent years I’ve fallen in love with the Water Taxi. There’s one that goes from South Street Seaport to the Ikea store in Red Hook, Brooklyn. That’s a cool trip—you see the Statue of Liberty and islands in the harbor. New York Water Taxi, 212-742-1969; nywatertaxi.com
…a great Broadway show (besides yours)?
See Jessie Mueller in Beautiful. She’s a star—and has Carole King down. Or Jersey Boys. Yes, okay, I was in it, but there’s a reason people keep going to see that show—it’s reeeeally good. I had a great time doing it for almost two years. You can’t go wrong. Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Stephen Sondheim Theatre, 124 W. 43rd Street (Sixth Avenue/Broadway); beautifulonbroadway.com. Jersey Boys, August Wilson Theater, 245 W. 52nd Street (Broadway/Eighth Avenue); jerseyboysinfo.com
…a nice place to chill?
Bounce, in the Flatiron district. It’s a sports bar. Cool atmosphere, great bartenders. And it’s…big. I like bars a little bigger—you can move around. And they have a good menu. I don’t go out too much to bars. [He laughs.] Especially now, I’m on such a regimen. “Hey, do you have any protein powder with that whiskey?” Yggghhhh. Bounce Sporting Club, 55 W. 21st Street (Sixth Avenue); 212-675-8007; bounceny.com