Orfeh and Andy were photographed at the extremely dog-friendly INK48 Hotel in NYC. Photos by Brett Chisholm and Ryan Rice.
Showbiz couples come and go, and more often than not, they unfortunately tend to go. Whether it’s the strain of constantly working or living your life in front of adoring fans and cynical critics, the pressures of a public life—and relationship—often times is more than most couples can take. Breaking that mold is the Broadway powerhouse couple of Orfeh and Andy Karl, known best to Broadway audiences as Paulette and Kyle the UPS Man in the hit Legally Blonde.
Orfeh’s story starts before her birth. Her mother had a premonition that her unborn child would be a singer, channeling the mystical powers of the legendary Greek musician and poet Orpheus, who was said to be able to charm all living things with the power of his music. Boy or girl, Orfeh’s mother knew one thing: the name would be Orfeh. Her mother could not have been more on target. After growing up in New York City and graduating from High School, Orfeh was immediately signed to a recording contract with EMI records. What should have been the start of an illustrious career turned into a nightmare for Orfeh. “My recording career went wrong,” she has said. “Really, really wrong. We had the business manager that stole all the money, the hit record that was about to become a mega-hit record and suddenly the rug was pulled out from under us. After being on the road for years and devoting my life to recording, I found myself at home saying, ‘What do I do now?’” It wasn’t long until Broadway called, in a big way.
In 1998, Orfeh made her Broadway debut as the understudy to all the female leads in the original company of Footloose. Orfeh’s talents did not go unnoticed in the theater world and she was soon on her way to stardom. In 1999, Orfeh debuted as Tony Manero’s jilted sidekick in the audience-favorite Saturday Night Fever and received raves thanks to her powerhouse rendition of “If I Can’t Have You.” Orfeh’s power vocals immediately caught the attention of critics and the eye of Rosie O’Donnell, who invited her to perform the smash on her show. Saturday Night Fever ran for 15 months on Broadway—8 performances a week—and Orfeh never missed a show. The success of Saturday Night Fever served as a foundation for Orfeh’s stage career that eventually lead to a Tony-nominated performance in Legally Blonde, critically acclaimed performances in benefit concerts of Dreamgirls and Hair, and lauded runs as rock icon Janis Joplin in Love, Janis and Pippi in The Great American Trailer Park Musical, two Off-Broadway smashes.
Orfeh is no stranger to small and silver screen as well, appearing in Sex and The City, Law and Order, Chapelle’s Show, and in Julie Taymor’s Across The Universe, where she sang alongside Joe Cocker on the Beatles classic “Come Together.” In addition to her TV and movie successes, Orfeh is one of the most sought-after voice over artists around. Orfeh’s solo debut, “What Do You Want From Me” was released on Sept 30th 2008 on Sh-K-Boom/Ghostlight records. The CD is available everywhere in stores and online now.
It was her run in Saturday Night Fever that lead to Orfeh’s favorite role to date, the wife to Andy Karl. When the handsome and stately Andy Karl took over the role of Joey in Saturday Night Fever, Orfeh was immediately smitten. By the end of the run of the show, the two were inseparable. A few weeks after the show closed, the two eloped in Miami in early 2001.
Andy Karl started performing in high school before attending Towson State University to study voice and music. After moving to New York City in 1994, Andy was cast as an understudy in the touring production of The Who’s Tommy and then played Rum Tum Tummer in the legendary touring production of Cats. It was then in 2000 that he joined the cast of Saturday Night Fever alongside Orfeh. Andy has since had stellar and celebrated performances in The Wedding Signer, Legally Blonde, 9 to 5, and Wicked. He is perhaps most well-known for his portrayal of Luke in the original cast of the off-Broadway hit Altar Boyz. Andy recently was seen in the hit movie Joyful Noise earlier this year, and can currently be seen on Broadway in Jersey Boys.
We met with Orfeh and Andy at the illustrious “Heaven Over Hell Suite” at Kimpton’s INK48 Hotel in Manhattan. With the charming duo came one their adorable and spunky canine companion Boo, also known as Bruiser from the Broadway company of Legally Blonde. Orfeh and Andy met Boo on the first day of rehearsals for the show. There were 5 dogs in the show and Boo was the smallest. All of the canine stars were trained by the famous animal trainer Bill Berloni, and he allowed Boo to remain in Orfeh’s dressing room for the entire run of the show. When the show closed on Broadway, it seemed that Boo was too small to head out on the road, but that didn’t matter–Orfeh and Andy refused to be separated, and Bill allowed them to adopt him. Since then the Broadway family travels together, performs together, and most importantly, raise awareness together. Orfeh and Andy have been working with the North Shore Animal League for quite some time, as well as the Humane Society, NYC’s ASPCA, and various no-kill animal shelters. The duo has performed in Bernadette Peter’s and Mary Tyler Moore’s annual adoption event, Broadway Barks on numerous occasions. Most recently, Boo wed his girlfriend Piper in a wedding in New York City that was a benefit for North Shore Animal League and Waggytail Rescue.
While at INK48, we spoke to the proud parents about their careers, how they’ve been able to stay so strong together while working together at the same time, and how Boo has changed their life. Read on for the complete Q&A.
LIFE+DOG: What were some of your favorite parts of performing in Legally Blonde?
Orfeh and Andy: Being a real life couple, playing a couple, was nothing short of hilarious. And doing the big group production numbers was always fun. There’s an energy there that can’t be beat.
L+D: What is your favorite part of being able to perform in shows together?
O+A: Really, there is no downside for us. We perform together as often as they’ll let us and we have an incredible amount of chemistry for a real life couple, which doesn’t always happen.
L+D: How do you separate work from your personal life when you share both together?
O+A: We just do, because you have to. We rarely ever talk shop at home unless we absolutely have to.
L+D: What are some of your favorite things to do in your downtime?
O+A: We love to travel, but there isn’t much time for that, so we try to escape by going on long weekends now and again. And of course, going to the movies is always a favorite pastime.
L+D: What is your favorite thing to do with Boo in NYC?
O+A: We love to go to dog-friendly restaurants with outdoor seating when weather permits. Boo loves to be everywhere with us.
L+D: What is your favorite memory of Boo?
O+A: The first time he went on in Legally Blonde, he was so little you could barely hear him bark, but he hit all of his marks and the cast was so proud of him. It was just a perfect night!
L+D: Have you always had dogs growing up or is Boo your first?
O+A: We’ve both had dogs and cats our whole lives.
L+D: If you could describe your relationship with your dog in just one word or few words what would it be?
O+A: Mellow and hilarious.
L+D: What is your favorite thing about dogs?
O+A: No matter or how long or short a time you’ve been away from them, they greet you as if you haven’t seen them in 10 years.
L+D: How has Boo changed your life?
O+A: In every way. All for the better.
To learn more about Andy, visit his website at www.andykarl.com.
This article was written by LIFE+DOG editor Ryan Rice.
To read more from Ryan, visit his blog on our site.