Please Meet Daniel Gorman!
Danny has been a part of our West Chester Summer Stage program for many years now – he even performed in two of our productions in our first year at Limelight. He has a no-fear approach to performing, gives the Director everything he’s got and he’s not afraid to take chances which always leaves the audience wanting more. We thought it would be great to share the experiences of this young accomplished performer with our members. Enjoy!
Danny – It’s been such a pleasure watching you perform on stage over the years — you seem to always commit to the role you are playing and give it 100% every time. For us in the audience — we always have fun watching you, too. What has been your favorite role to play so far?
It is definitely difficult to choose, as I have played some very fun and good characters over the years. But I would have to say portraying Feargal McFerrin III, the nerd from Back to the 80’s was a favorite. He was such an over the top comedic and likable character and it was a blast being able to create all of his quirks while defeating the bully in the end. When I was younger, I was Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol the Musical and Gavroche, in Les Miserables, they would also be my favorites childhood characters I played.
When did you become involved in performing arts — how old were you and what was the production?
My first production was with West Chester Summer Stage in 2005, The Wizard of Oz. I was five years old and part of the Little Rascals, now known as the Broadway Babies. All I remember was being really excited to play a munchkin. I also got one line in TV Time, where I played Herman Munster from The Munsters. I remember I practiced and practiced to get that right.
I love it — even with one line you were super committed. Were you hooked from that moment or did you need to be encouraged more to continue to perform?
I enjoyed doing The Wizard of Oz, but I wouldn’t say I was hooked right away. It wasn’t until the next year that I really found I enjoyed doing theatre. Summer Stage was a big part of why I continued to perform. My family also enjoyed doing talent shows and stuff like that…so that was fun too. At one point I decided I wanted to be a movie director too.
Be honest — when doing a show — do you still get nervous seconds before walking on stage?
Definitely! There is always a little voice in my head pointing out all the possible things that can go wrong in a scene. I know I just have to think positive and hope for the best.
We mostly see you in musicals — have you ever tackled a dramatic or comedic play?
I have been doing musicals for almost 11 years but didn’t do a play until this past spring. I participated in the Academy of Notre Dame’s spring production, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten (it is a mouthful to say). It was a terrific experience and differed greatly from any past productions I’ve performed in. Putting on a play is more laid-back and character focused. The set was just a few blocks and a chalkboard, so the show really depended completely on the performances of the cast members. I don’t think I have enough experiences with plays yet to have a preference between the two. I will say, though, there is nothing I love more than a show stopping musical number!
You have a great singing voice — has that always come naturally?
It definitely took work. When I was younger I had a pretty severe lisp, so I really had to come over that. Luckily, I have been able to really grow vocally with the help of my amazing voice coach Kim Russell (Kim Russell Voice Studio). I started with her last year.
It’s clear you have a love for music — what Broadway score do you find yourself singing in your head the most?
There are lots of amazing shows but my favorite is West Side Story. Every song in that show is incredible and the story is fantastic. I hope to be a part of that show cast someday.
That is an amazing show — couldn’t agree more. It can’t always be about the performances — do you actively train, take acting or other performance classes to keep you in shape for when it’s showtime?
Definitely! As I mentioned, I have started taking voice lessons and have participated in many acting lessons workshops, some of which were at Limelight! I also participate in Forensics, a public speaking/acting club, at school. Through this I compete in the performance of prose and dramatic plays. Students act out a 10-minute piece from a play or literature and you are judged on your performance. I really enjoy bringing characters to life and this “sport” has helped me a lot.
Last winter – you stepped in last minute (with maybe two days before opening night) for another actor who got sick for Limelight’s production of Annie – how exciting or scary was that experience? What prepared you to step into that role so effortlessly?
It was very exciting but definitely stressful. It was lots of fun meeting the cast and getting acquainted with the set and choreography. Playing Rooster Hannigan has been a character I’ve always thought would be fun for me. My years of Summer Stage really helped with my ability to memorize and the production staff and cast were both so helpful in making sure everything would go smoothly. I had a great time.
Well, you did an awesome job — and not one line missed I might add. Let’s change gears a bit — for our readers who are contemplating joining a theatre group — share with us what excites you the most about being on stage?
The most exciting thing is the spontaneity and energy. Every time you go on stage, you are taking a risk. You don’t just give the same performance each night of a show, you change things up to see how it goes over. Someone in the audience is going to love what you are doing, so be fearless. Actors feed on the energy of the audience — if an audience is inactive, the show might lose steam. I love grabbing the audience and bringing them into the brilliant world the cast and crew have created.
I agree — positive risk-taking at its finest. That said — participating in a musical production takes focus and dedication to the craft — learning the music, memorizing lines, the choreography — does it feel like work or fun during the rehearsal process?
It is always a mix of both. It takes lots of hard work and self-discipline to get through the rehearsal process. Though it can be exhausting, it really is lots of fun to learn new music, blocking, and choreography. And its great camaraderie when the finished product is performed. Your cast is like your family and great memories and friendships come from it.
What part of all of that doesn’t come as easily as the others — and requires more focus and work from you to make it look so easy?
Memorization of lines comes easily to me now, but it takes lots of effort to master choreography and music. Luckily I have been blessed to have so many helpful mentors that help work on these things.
You can’t always get the lead or featured role (although you have had many) — tell us about a time when you didn’t get the part you wanted. How did you handle the rejection and what did you learn about yourself in the process?
Not too long ago, I auditioned for a show and didn’t get a main or supporting role. Initially I was very disappointed-that is only natural. I spent that night wallowing in my disappointment. When I woke up the next morning, I picked myself back up and found I was over it. I had done my best and needed to move on. The show ended up being an amazing experience, and I learned that it is important not to get too caught up in the shenanigans of casting. When cast lists come out, it is natural for there to be some negativity from some people. It is important to not be one of those people stuck in the self-pity stage and spreading the bad vibes. Embrace the show and do your best and you will have a much better time!
Wow – such great life advice too! Tell us how your experience working with a team and putting a show on it’s feet have positively impacted you in other areas of your life?
It has helped me tremendously in many different areas. Socially, theatre teaches such valuable lessons about teamwork and communication. It also teaches time management, which is very important with my hectic schedule. I am confident on stage and that has come from having amazing teachers and friends to learn from. Teamwork and respecting your fellow cast mates creates an environment where we all do our best. Not to mention that I’ve made some of the best friends of my life. We truly enjoy each other and build each other up.
You were honored (deservedly so) with the Nick Mullin Scholarship at West Chester Summer Stage this year — only one person each summer is bestowed this honor in memory of a young man who lit up the stage and the lives of his family and friends like you do. What was going through your head the seconds leading up to Mrs. McCarney announcing your name?
There are so many kids who would be deserving of this scholarship. It was a truly surreal experience for me. I wasn’t thinking it was going to be me until the moment Mrs. McCarney mentioned that the recipient was someone who had been with her for a very long period of time. That was the moment I realized it might be me. Then she announced my name! I started shaking and tearing up. I was honestly taken aback by the whole thing. I’m not normally a very emotional person, but I immediately started bawling. It is such an amazing honor – Nick seems like he was a fantastic guy from all that I’ve heard. And the foundation Mr. and Mrs. Mullin have started, Nick Smiles on the Fine Arts, has already done some truly amazing things for fine arts programs in many schools. Mrs McCarney has been such an awesome teacher for me since I was five years old, so it meant the world to me to receive that honor from her. I am very honored to be the 2015 Nick Mullin Scholarship recipient.
What’s in your near future — any shows you are already committed to doing or hoping to audition for soon?
I was so happy to be a part of Bishop Shanahan’s production of White Christmas and Notre Dame Academy’s production of Anything Goes. I also hope to participate in some of the Limelight high school productions coming up soon.
Well, folks — there you have it — keep an eye out for Danny in theatres this season (including Limelight) – we guarantee you will love all of his performances. Thanks Danny – have a great season!