With his amazing and quintessential American charisma, Derek Keeling is poised to be one of his generation’s most memorable performers.
Keeling is best known for his run on NBC’s Grease: You’re the One That I Want, in which he placed third in Broadway’s largest national casting call. But his experience covers a wide range of dramas and musicals, touching every genre and audience. A student of the spontaneous and engaging Meisner acting technique, Keeling has been a part of many new and upcoming projects, such as the reading of the new musical Dreamweavers, in which he starred as Jack Jerome; a reading of Happy Days in Los Angeles, in which he played the iconic Arthur “Fonz” Fonzarelli; a role he later played in the full production; and a prestigious, pre-Broadway run of A Tale of Two Cities, starring as Charles Darnay.
Keeling was seen playing Chad in the regional premiere of All Shook Up at Musical Theatre West. The performance was hailed by critics at top publications such as the Los Angeles Times, which calls Keeling “that rarity seldom seen since the days of Cary Grant -- namely, a hunky guy who can play comedy.”
And, of course, sing and dance. A born performer who has studied dance since the age of three, Keeling made his Broadway debut in the summer of 2008 as Danny Zuko in Grease. He and the musical have an illustrious, 6-year history; excluding his NBC Grease experience, Keeling estimates he has brought his own James Dean-style swagger to the classic musical for nearly 1000 performances -- across nearly every state in the nation, and always in a professional-level production. He has even taken the All-American story across the border to Canadian and European audiences. After two high-energy years on the musical’s national tour -- performing along with pop icons Frankie Avalon and Chubby Checker -- Keeling feels Broadway was the “cherry on top” of his Grease experience.
“I'll never be as cool as Danny Zuko,” Keeling laughs, “but I've gotten pretty good over the last six years at pretending that I am.”
After his successful Broadway run Derek took on a challenging off-Broadway production called Connect-Disconnect where he had to stretch himself as an actor playing two very different roles in the two person two Act musical spanning comedy and drama. For his efforts he was awarded the Midtown International Theatre Festival Award for BEST LEADING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL.
Derek returned to NYC this summer to bring his duet concert Sunday Kind of Love to the infamous Feinstein’s Night Club.
Keeling recently finished a run of the new Roger Bean musical
Life Could Be A Dream at the Hudson Theatre in downtown
Hollywood and in the summer of ’11 he performed the music of
Rodgers and Hammerstein with the Cal Philharmonic.
Derek will be taking on the roll of the Man in Black
“Johnny Cash” on the National Tour of Million Dollar Quartet
the fall of 2011 through 2012.
Regional highlights for Keeling’s career include Shakespeare’s
As You Like It, When Pigs Fly, Zoo Story, and The
Lost Colony, directed by Terrance Mann.
Keeling went to Mars Hill College where he studied musical theatre. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Kentucky, where he studied theatre and worked with the opera department.