FOXBOROUGH — Ted Karras has played in Super Bowls, but stepping onto a small stage in the South End on Tuesday, he still had major butterflies.
The Patriots offensive lineman had a cameo in “The Office! A Musical Parody,” a, well, musical parody of the former NBC sitcom that’s running at the Boston Center for the Arts’ Calderwood Pavilion. So, the evening of his offday, Karras went into the city with his wife, learned his choreography, and made his on-stage debut.
“It’s a different kind of nervous,” Karras said. “I’m glad we practiced.”
Karras was part of the opening number, called “Welcome to Scranton.” He got to the theater about an hour before curtain and ran through what he’d be doing three times with Madeline Glenn Thomas, who is the dance captain and also plays Pam Beesly.
“[Karras] came out with Devina [Sabnis], who plays Kelly Kapoor, and he had a little moment with her and they were able to have a little moment and then he had an interaction with Dwight and with Roy, as well,” Glenn Thomas said.
The main thing Karras needed to do was take a piece of paper from the character Roy Anderson that was made to look like an order form for the infamous Dunder Mifflin Party Planning Committee and pin it on a piece of corkboard that was part of the set. Then he had another moment with the entire cast before exiting. (“Stage right,” Karras said.)
It all went off without a hitch, though there was almost a little mishap with the set. Most likely through some combination of nerves and adrenaline, Karras must have pressed the pin in much harder in the actual performance than he had in rehearsal.
“I pressed really hard live and I felt the wall kind of shake and I put my hand on it,” Karras said. “I was talking to a cast member and I was like, what a football guy thing to do, goes to the theater and knocks the set over.”
The set did not actually fall over, though, and Glenn Thomas said she didn’t notice a thing.
“I never would have known, he was a natural,” she said.
A thespian streak runs in the family for Karras. His great-uncle, Alex Karras, followed up a 12-year NFL career with a TV and movie career that included roles in “Blazing Saddles” and the ABC sitcom “Webster.”
Ted Karras took a couple of theater classes in college and would like to do more when he’s done playing football, but Tuesday was his first experience on a live stage.
Karras got involved after the show reached out to him a few weeks ago. He’d met Kathy Rochefort, who counts “The Office! A Musical Parody” among her public relations clients, in the spring because of another show she works with, the Big Apple Circus. The circus asked the Patriots if there was a player who might want to be the ringmaster for one night, the team suggested Karras, and he donned a tophat and did the honors in Peabody this past April.
It went well, so Rochefort reached back out about having Karras take part again when she had another client show in town.
What they didn’t all realize is that Karras is a massive fan of “The Office” and can quote its lines at will. The cast figured that out quickly, though, when they were hanging out backstage before the show and Karras wound up beating them in Office trivia.
A recent tour date in Binghamton, N.Y., coincided with an Office-themed trivia night nearby, which the cast went to. They did pretty well, but lost when they bet all of their points on one question and got stumped. The question, which they posed backstage to Karras: In Season 8’s “Doomsday” episode, Jim sees flights to where on Robert California’s phone?
“Ted goes, ‘Oh, Buffalo. JetBlue,’ ” Glenn Thomas said. “We were like, ‘Yes, how did you know that?’ ”
Perhaps the AFC East connection made it extra memorable.
Karras said the cast did stump him on one trivia question: Who was the manager of the diet pill company Michael Scott works for? (Answer: Nick Figaro, manager to the stars!)
All in all, the fact that Karras was already a lover of the show’s source material made it the right place for him to get involved with professional theater for the first time.
“They incorporated pretty much every reference you can get in the whole show,” Karras said. “They had some really good songs. The vocals were unbelievable and it was really funny.”