Nothing can rival self-awareness. Never afraid to evaluate his finite journey, Andrew J. Carroll holds that he is “fundamentally, awfully shy” yet mindful of the myriad means to reveal the reaches of his emotions and aspirations. For someone with such a makeup and who collects kudos and cash for performing in plays, handling a lead role can reduce worry and inspire further enthusiasm for investigation, and that endeavor has become the latest boon for the 25-year-old, who is playing Ivan Alexandrovich Khlestakov in “The Government Inspector.”
“This show is super funny and lets everyone revel in the joy,” the resident of the 1500 block of South 18th Street said of the Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium-helmed staging of the Nikolai Gogol work. “The different sorts of exchanges make for a really amazing experience, and I think I’m growing each time I interact with everyone involved.”
The Newbold dweller is helping the Consortium to mark its 10th anniversary through the Walnut Street Theatre Studio 5. Marking his seventh assignment for the entity, the play, with direction by producing artistic director and Bella Vista inhabitant Tina Brock, finds Carroll portraying a figure mistaken for the titular individual and comedically tackles attempts by officials to cover their corruption so as not to earn his wrath.
“Through my time with the Consortium, I’ve found it’s an energy thing that helps me to feel so connected,” the actor opined. “I like taking on these roles because the characters are not far from me. I really see them as extensions of who I am.”
With his admittance of shyness, how can Carroll contend that he and the civil servant who flouts convention solely for self-preservation have similarities? The amount of introspection that each engenders solidly supports his assertion.
“He is openly charismatic but there’s some hesitation and consideration of his course,” the portrayer said of Khlestakov, who offers at least one-third of his lines via direct address. “There’s definitely a ton of humor possible when you’re questioning yourself, and he’s a guy whose actions also encourage others to do that. That’s a pretty powerful element to have to your personality, and the fact that direct address accounts for so much of his stage time helps me to raise my performance and get to the task of throwing my energy at it. Being engaged and engrossed is a great way to fight through any sort of battle, especially when you’re concerned with how you’re delivering a script.”
With 17 days remaining in the run, Carroll loves the prospect of continuing to counter any doubts and to delve more deeply into the time-tested task of asking questions and listening for responses to guide his execution. With input from Brock, who also appears in the action and sound designed the project, and cast mates, including girlfriend Jennifer MacMillan, he expects that the “war of attrition” that the theatrical world can often prove will negotiate a truce with his sensitivities and grant him moments to delight in being diligent and rejoice in remaining vigilant.
“When I’m on stage, finding ease is my main goal,” Carroll said. “I want to keep exploring how much fun this all is and make even more connections because a life in this field is a marathon and not a sprint, and you have to keep the spark of madness going.”
The Garden State product began to look for the luminescent ally as a Pasadena-reared youth. Blessed with an extensive family whom he dubbed his “captive audience,” he fell first for musical theater, with a production of “The Lion King” assigning royal status to stage-based pursuits. Fortunate to attend the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, he came to cherish every chance to communicate through the site’s productions and knew he would need to immerse himself in his craft to etch a great career.
“It all became very real to me during high school,” Carroll confessed of his maturation. “To this day, I’m able to look back on that period with fond memories because no matter what existential quandaries I might go through as an adult, I know that this field, this vocation, is where I’m best suited to try to thrive and be a part of something wonderful over and over again.”
A full scholarship to the University of the Arts initiated the Philadelphia component of his trek, with his junior year proving the pivotal one in terms of seeing the city as a fitting destination for his burgeoning passion.
“So many talented people live here,” Carroll gushed, noting that growth as an artist becomes inevitable through each exchange with a committed contributor to the theater community. “Philadelphia is so good because you get to work on great projects and develop a bit of a vocabulary with companies if you’re able to establish great relationships with them.”
He has won the favor of the Consortium and Curio Theatre Co., the latter of which he is a company member, and considers them the chief sandboxes in which he is able to play. Thrilled to help the former through “The Government Inspector,” particularly because he has wanted to play Khlestakov since he was 17, and eager to extend his affiliation with Curio come the spring staging of “The Cripple of Inishmaan,” the ever-cerebral individual would love to align himself with additional entities, but no matter where he lands, he will remain a steadfast practitioner seeking enough employment to be able to support a child.
“I’m not shy about that,” Carroll said, with a laugh. “I come from a very supportive family, so having my own is definitely on my mind. It’s all about evolving as we grow older, and I’d like to turn over every stone there is as I work on myself as a professional and a citizen of the world.” ■
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Portrait Photo By Tina Garceau | Production Photos Provided By Johanna Austin @ AustinArt.