[He portrays Pirelli in "Sweeney Todd" at Drury Lane Theatre in 2011 in Oakbrook Terrace.]
If Albee sent him on his way, Keating’s father provided a road map.
“My dad was a very practical man, an electrical engineer,” Keating said. “I learned my work ethic from him. I learned the importance of digging in, no matter what you’re doing. If you’re going to do it, go all in. Do it right.”
Those lessons are especially crucial in musical theater, where actors rarely get more than a handful of spoken lines to establish an entire character.
“You get so little time actually speaking – moments when you’re not singing or dancing. You’ve got to do a lot with very little. And I love that. Sometimes people think, oh – barely any lines. That’s a small part. But to me that’s a challenge I love to take on. How much can you portray, how deep can you dig with just a few words?”
Live theater being, well, live, Keating has seen his share of blood, concussions and broken bones. There was that time, for example, when an actor plummeted into the orchestra pit during previews.
“Not naming names. But there was a broken hip. Suffice to say, they didn’t make it to opening night,” he said.
“People don’t realize it, but any time you do musical theater on a big scale like at Paramount, you’ve got to be constantly aware of where you are or it’s physically dangerous. The glare can make it hard to see. There are hydraulics that go up and down, stairs that move, walls that move. I don’t care what it looks like from the audience. The orchestra pit is nothing but a deep, dark hole waiting to eat you,” he said.
At this point in his career, Keating’s looking toward roles he’s been hankering for since high school.
“Albee wrote for old men and young men. Very few men in the middle,” he said. “I feel like I’m just coming into that.”