‘A Quick 5′ with Thomas Keegan

Thomas Keegan

Thomas Keegan  is currently performing at Signature Theatre in Dying City where he portrays the dual roles of Peter and Craig opposite Rachel Zampelli. DC Theatre credits include  Taming of the Shrew and Othello at Folger Theatre,  Shear Madness at Kennedy Center Women Beware Women at Constellation Theatre Company, A Midsummer Night’s DreamThe ChangelingThe Revenger’s TragedyHenry VI Pt.1Twelfth NightMeasure for MeasureRichard IIKing LearMacbeth and Cymbeline at American Shakespeare Center, OthelloMuch Ado About Nothing and Man of La Mancha at Texas Shakespeare Festival, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Delaware Shakespeare Festival. His training includes The Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Academy for Classical Acting at The George Washington University plus an MFA. If you are looking for some intense and wonderful acting get to Signature Theatre anytime between now and November 25th to see Thomas Keegan in Dying City. You might not like his characters but you will enjoy his performance.

What was your first professional job as an actor?

The first time I was ever paid in actual American currency to act, I played Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Delaware Shakespeare Festival. It was also the first time I had the honor of sharing the stage with my father, James Keegan, who played Oberon in that production (and who, incidentally, will be playing Pistol in The Folger Theatre’s upcoming production of Henry V).

Had you seen or read Dying City prior to being cast in the Signature Theatre production?

Surprisingly, I’ve never seen a production of Dying City. However, of the people involved in the production, I believe that I was the first to read the play.  I had it recommended to me a couple of years ago, and became transfixed with the prospect of working on it.  I mentioned it in passing and lent it to my costar, Rachel Zampelli, who I met when she performed with my wife, Alyssa Wilmoth-Keegan, in No Rules Theatre Company’s production of Stop Kiss.  She and I brought it to Matt Gardiner, with whom Rachel has worked a number of times, and after doing a table read with him, the ball was rolling.

Kelly (Rachel Zampelli) and Peter (Thomas Keegan). Photo by Scott Suchman.

Can you please tell us about the characters you play in Dying City?

Oh, boy. Where to begin…well, I play twin brothers, Peter and Craig.  Peter is an up and coming movie star, seemingly with a niche in the action genre.  He’s also a stage actor, however, playing Edmund Tyrone in a Broadway production of Long Day’s Journey Into Night. Peter is gay, struggling in with relationships, and often uses physical intimacy to try to make up for an emotional intimacy that has been lacking in his life—probably since childhood.  In the moment of the play, that emotional loss is amplified by the death of his identical twin brother, Craig, an American Army officer who died in Iraq a year earlier, under suspicious circumstances.  Peter is trying to come to grips with the loss of his twin, in messy ways that have the potential for collateral damage.

Craig, who joined the Army to pay for his Harvard education in the works of William Faulkner, is a deeply injured, desperately violent individual.  In contrast to Peter’s desperation to connect and be cared for, Craig’s emotional scars have left him closed off, silently enraged, and power-hungry.  His use of sex as an assertion of power and control is symptomatic of the “horror of the core” of him, and potentially of the play.

You have performed the works of Shakespeare in multiple theatres including Folger Theatre here in DC. Of the roles you have played by Shakespeare, who has been your favorite and which role do you hope to play someday?

Edmund, the bastard of King Lear, has been my favorite of Shakespeare’s roles, to date: I have a soft spot for the misanthropic.  Picking the single role in Shakespeare that I most hope to play someday, may be the hardest question I am ever asked.  At the risk of doing offense to Hamlet, Mercutio, Macbeth, Coriolanus, Benedick, Kent, and Lear, I’ll say Antony in Antony & Cleopatra. Fortunately, I’ve got some time; in my eyes, he’s one of the most exciting characters ever written, thanks largely to being one half of the most volatile, sexy, powerful, dangerous coupling in the history of the world.

After Dying City closes where can we see you perform next?

I’ll be playing Archer in The Beaux Stratagem at Everyman Theatre, in the Spring of 2013.

Dying City plays at Signature Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington, VA, through November 25. For more information or for tickets call 703 573 SEAT (7328) or click here.

About Elliot Lanes

Elliot Lanes has been a professional stage manager/sound designer/board op for over 20 years. After relocating to Washington, DC from the New York City area and marrying the girl of his dreams Jennifer Perry, he has been privileged to work on productions at Theatre J, Synetic, Prince George's Community College and Studio Theater to name a few. He has contributed designs for many shows in the last three Capital Fringe Festivals, two of which garnered critical raves. He is also the creator of MD Theatre Guide's highly successful 'A Quick 5' column.