Broadway superstar Sean Allan Krill is currently portraying the role of Steve in the Alanis Morissette Broadway Musical, Jagged Little Pill, and receiving rave reviews. No stranger to theater, Krill received the Lily Tomlin Scholarship for Theatre and is a Craig Noel Award recipient. He has also acted in “Honeymoon in Vegas,” “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever” and “Mamma Mia,” to name a few.
We exchanged questions and answers regarding Jagged Little Pill, his career, challenges and life in general. He had some of the best responses I’ve ever heard!
Is the character of Steve anything like Sean Allan Krill? How or how not?
Hmm. This is such a great question. On the surface, Steve and I are actually nothing alike, besides both being cis white men. Steve is a straight, moderately wealthy medical lawyer with two teenage children, lives in the ‘burbs and struggles to express his feelings. I’m a gay actor with no kids, I live in New York and have pretty much always worn my heart on my sleeve. But if you look closer, there are some similarities. In Jagged Little Pill, you meet Steve in crisis, so—though you see a man yearning to connect with his wife and kids, to communicate, to express his love—I don’t think it has always been this way. Which is, of course, a big part of the problems the Healys face.
There is this toxic masculinity in our culture that tells men and women alike to push their feelings down and keep quiet. To just shut up and deal with it. You’re sad? Too bad—don’t show it or you’ll look weak. You’ve been attacked? Be quiet; it was probably your fault anyway. Steve is waking up from being mired in that haze. Luckily, I woke up from it a long time ago—I think because, as a young gay man, I was forced to think outside the societal box. I’m so grateful for that.
Before your role as Steve in Jagged Little Pill, how familiar with the songs of Alanis Morissette were you? In other words, were you a fan?
Oh, I was and still am a huge fan. Alanis and I are around the same age, so I was a 20-something when the album came out, and it was formative, to say the very least—basically the soundtrack of my life from 1995 to 1997. It took me through a horrible break-up and then ushered me through meeting the love of my life. “Head Over Feet” was one of our songs. There is so much beautiful, raw, human emotion on the album. I think JLP is one of those records that is this gorgeous snapshot of its time—seminal, definitive, like a Tapestry for Generation X.
The characters in Jagged Little Pill encounter certain challenges, as most of us do. What has been your greatest challenge, and how did you overcome it?
The love of my life I told you about? His name was Guy, and we spent 13 amazing years together. He died from colon cancer in 2010. He was my very best friend, my whole world. It was absolutely devastating. How did I overcome it? Hmm, well, I’ve learned a lot about grieving and loss over the last 10 years. Grief is a tricky monster—clever, devious. It will let you think you’re fine and then jump out and grab you by the throat when you least expect it. I think the truth is—and what has gotten me through it—is understanding that it isn’t about leaving anything behind. It’s about accepting that this wholly formative thing happened in your life. You have to figure out how to pick it up and carry it with you. Over time, having it with you is a beautiful reminder of the love you shared with that person.
Also, Guy was such a beautiful soul; he was sick for 15 months before he passed, and I was fortunate enough to have his help and guidance in understanding how I might possibly live life without him. He made me promise to always choose life, no matter how dark things got, and to find love again and embrace it. So I did. Very slowly, very painfully, I did. I was fortunate enough to find a new love of my life, Harry, and we got married in 2015.
What would be a perfect role for you and why?
I’ve always been attracted to actors who are driven by a real, earnest truth in their work, so I have always tried to do the same. I guess a perfect role is one that allows me to explore that. But honestly, I think they all do in one way or another. Whether it’s drama or comedy, or anything in between, I think a real truth driving a performance is what makes the connection real and palpable for the audience. Drama is rich if it’s true, of course, but also, comedy is so much funnier if it’s based in truth and not just tricks. To me, anyway. I’m lucky with Steve Healy; I feel like I get to do a little bit of everything with him, and I love it. And bonus: I get to sing too.
If you could have your ultimate stage fantasy, what would you need to happen?
I have an old-school, baritone, croony voice, and I’ve always felt like I was born in the wrong era of musical theatre. If you need a big, long, insanely high Z-flat at the end of a song, I’m just not your man. So, in this current era of “American Idol”-style singing on Broadway, I sometimes fantasize about waking up in the 1940s. I’m doing a Rodgers & Hart or Cole Porter musical, and I get to just croooooon all over the place.
If you could have me ask you any question on the planet, what would it be and how would you answer?
Haha, that’s hard! Um… OK… “Did you ever think you’d be on the cover of a magazine?” And the answer is a definite, “Oh my God, never in a million years.” I guess in my soul I’ll always be that shy, awkward, 13 year-old chubby gay kid with red hair and glasses who the other kids made fun of relentlessly. So this is pretty cool, even if I did have to wait 48 years. Totally worth it. So suck it, mean kids!
What is the best advice your parents ever gave you?
I came out to my dad in 1996. We were on a road trip to see my ailing grandmother, who had been given just a couple weeks to live. I mustered up the courage to tell him that my “roommate” wasn’t just my roommate. “We’ve been together a couple years now.” He paused for a long time, and said, “I thought so, son.” Another long pause. Then he said, “Well, if I’ve learned anything in all my years, it’s that love is hard to find. So if you’ve found it, then it can’t be wrong.”
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give young Sean?
Hello there, young Sean Allan. Hey, pssst, just be who you are. Stop wasting time trying to mold yourself into something you think others want you to be. In life, love, career—you will be far more successful if you focus on who you are and what you have to offer, because that is what makes you special. Keep growing and learning and working to improve yourself, yes. But be YOUR self.
The soundtrack of your life has just been recorded. What songs are on it and why?
Seriously, they would ALL be runaway ‘80s pop hits. Probably mostly Madonna. No, OK, all Madonna.
What’s new and next for Sean in 2020 and beyond?
Oh, well, I hope I get to keep doing Jagged Little Pill for a while. It’s such a dream-come-true experience. I see myself doing more TV and film; I’m just going to put that out there into the universe. I’ve done plenty of guest star TV work, but the idea of inhabiting a character on film and being able to take them through a full emotional story arc would be just the most delicious challenge, and I’m ready for it. Outside of career, I’m just going to keep living, loving, hopefully continue learning and try to be the best version of Sean Allan Krill I can be.