As kids all over America head back to school, Broadway.com decided to ask our favorite Broadway stars to look back at their own years in the classroom—and share a school picture! Broadway favorite Andy Karl, who is currently starring as Four Seasons founder Tommy DeVito in the Tony Award-winning musical Jersey Boys, traces his affinity for punching holes in paper, his struggle with algebra and the joys of detention.
Who was your favorite teacher and why?
My high-school English teacher was great. He would always get the class to participate in assignments by reading passages from books out loud. He'd give everyone a character to read. I loved that.
What advice would you give to your school-age self?
I would tell my school-age self to dress better. I was a bit of a slob until my senior year. Honestly, that year was when people treated me with a touch more respect. I still need help in the clothing department. My wife does try.
In school you would have been named “most likely to…”
Join the circus. I was a clown a lot of times. Did a lot of goofy faces and voices and unnecessary tumbling. Kinda still do that. Shoot, I got a Drama Desk nomination for it [in The Mystery of Edwin Drood].
What song sums up your school experience and why?
Tough question. You learn so much of everything in school: education, socializing, finding things out about yourself, looking at the future with wonder and confusion. Put that into a song? Hmmm...GOT IT! The title song of the movie The Neverending Story. Great use of synth-sitar-patch #9 as well.
What’s your favorite back-to-school item?
The hole punch. Something about a good three-hole paper punch makes me feel good. I have a really nice one at home now: off-white with an easy grip handle and a solid base. Man, the way it slices through up to 10 sheets just makes my day.
What class did you dread and why?
Algebra 2. I was mystified. I can be very mechanical in the way I approach figuring things in life out but I just couldn't retain focus when "linear relations" or "quadratic and polynomial functions" were being discussed. Ugh. Still makes me ill.
What is your most embarrassing school moment?
I've since gotten over the fear of public speaking but I had to make an announcement one morning over the intercom during homeroom. The chill of fear that ran through my body at my first live announcement at high school was like nothing I've experienced. I literally had to stop midway because I lost my place on the page. I'm cool now, lots of Broadway Cares speeches later.
In which extracurricular activities did you participate?
I tried the football team, the after-school visual arts program for painting, the high-school chorale, but my favorite was the highly underrated detention.
Describe your school-age self in three words.
Hair-don'ts, Wayne's World, energy.