Daniel Gorman

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 Gorman

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!


Meet Nora Fitzgerald

Meet Nora Fitzgerald – currently knocking our socks off as Amazing Mayzie in our professional production of Seussical The Musical.

NoraNora – Thanks for taking the time to allow us to learn more about you and your love for the performing arts. Honestly, you do it all — actress, choreographer, dancer, director — tell us what you are working on today.
Well, after taking a break from performing for several years, I am finding my voice again–Literally!   The voice is a muscle and I gotta get back in the gym!  Being a part of Seussical at Limelight has been a fun challenge.  After directing/choreographing students for so long, it has been a humbling experience stepping into the student/performer role again!

Let’s talk about your performing life first – Tell us about your start — how old, dancing, acting?
I started dancing when I was four, continuing into high school taking ballet and jazz.  My first show was Bye Bye Birdie in sixth grade.  I joined the musical because my older sister did it and I wanted to be like her.  I was in the ensemble but then got to play the part of Margie one of the two nights because two girls skipped rehearsal one day to go watch a volleyball match and as punishment, one of their performances was taken away.  We had more auditions and I got the part.  At age 11, it was terrifying.  We didn’t have many body mics then so the song was done with hand mics.  We had to hand it off after each solo.  I only had two lines, trembled through each one and then it was over.  My first night in the spotlight was pretty anticlimactic.

Not to mention terrifying. What are some of your favorite roles or memories from stage performing?
After college, I got to perform with some of my dearest friends from school for several years.  We all stayed in the area and auditioned for the same shows.  Favorite roles would be Velma in Chicago (twice–I loved it that much) and Anita in West Side Story.  Also, my first big role was Winifred in Once Upon a Mattress in eighth grade so that will always hold a special place in my heart.

That’s great – What do you love the most? What is your true north when it comes to performing arts?
I truly love directing and choreographing teens.  It is such a vulnerable age.  I enjoy challenging them with movement and encouraging them to be brave, giving themselves permission to make choices that are not always comfortable in “real” life.

Let’s not forget your commercial acting career — you seem to be on every channel some days — how fun is that?
Commercial acting is a totally different medium and often looks more “glamorous” on screen than it is behind the scenes.  Working in front of the camera taught me a lot about myself and gave me valuable experience to share with my students.

How did you know it was time to jump back in — besides knowing you’d be in the company of some of Philly’s finest?
When the notice came out that Limelight was doing an adult production, I hoped I’d have the chance to be part of something professional where I might have the opportunity to grow.  I find as I get older that I welcome moments in which I can be a student again!

Every actor has a story — what was the funniest thing that ever happened to you on stage — planned or unplanned?
This is a tough one.  There’s always so many stories, which one to choose?  I guess one of the funniest things that happened was at Three Little Baker’s Dinner Theatre.  I was a swing for the Easter Show.  This means you understudy several roles and are ready to go on for any of them at any time.  We knew I was going on for one girl who was going to miss a show so there was an understudy rehearsal  ahead of time.  I knew the general blocking and dance steps but I never had the opportunity to run the show with full tech—sets, props, lights.  I got through the whole show with some lip syncing and faking of steps.  The other actors push you around too if you are not sure where you are supposed to be.  Just keep a smile on your face and the audience won’t notice.  So we get to the last big finale number—an Irvin Berlin tribute.  The girls are wearing long gowns with gloves and little black bob wigs and the men in tails and top hats.  We hit our end pose and I think I made it, I’m in the clear.  Baker’s stage was a very large thrust stage that had audience on three sides.  I am all the way downstage at the edge.  The furthest down you can be from the back of the stage.  I am leaning in a pose extending my leg and leaning back with my hand flexed in my “tah-dah” pose.  I smile and hold waiting for the final blackout.  And wait.  And smile.  And wait.  I start to subtly peek over my shoulder and see the stage has cleared.  No one told me there is no black out and I have been holding my final pose and smiling for what felt like forever.  Even the audience applause has started to fade, probably wondering why this girl is still standing on stage and what she is going to do.  So I make a dramatic, intentional turn around and take my very long walk to exit the stage.  At the same time the “host” of the show comes on stage clapping and thanking the audience and laughing as he looks to me and gives me an extra clap and thank you for my extraordinary exit.

Nora – that is both hilarious and horrifying at the same time — thanks for sharing that with us. Let’s change gears a little – I know you have a special affiliation with Dance – including forming your own dance company, Confidance®. How frustrating and rewarding has that endeavor been?
Thank you yes, I believe that everyone can dance.  It can bring so much joy and release and does not have to look a certain way.  Starting my own business has been a mix of emotions.  I have many days when I say, “Why on earth did I do this?” and many days when that question is answered and I feel great about the positive influence I am trying to bring to my world.  After one school visit I received a handwritten letter from a seventh grader that said, “We haven’t been together long but you made the biggest boost in my confidence.  You are forever in my heart.”  These are the moments that make it all worth it.

What is your philosophy when teaching dance?
Positivity and encouragement.  If you don’t know the step, make it up and make it your own.

With respect to your directing career — every Director has their favorites – Tell us about your favorite directing experiences with your students?
Pippin and Kander and Ebb’s The World Goes Round with Twisted Art summer theatre program in West Chester were the first two shows I directed/choreographed with teens.  I remember how much time and creativity I enjoyed putting into the productions.  I never thought I would be interested in directing but all it took was an opportunity and I fell in love with the process!  More recently my shows at Rustin High School have been my favorites specifically Les Miserables, which is probably the largest production I have ever put together and Peter Pan cause it was just so much imagination and fun.

At our West Chester Summer Stage program — you choreographed the Mainstagers for a few years. A program where teens literally put a full blown musical on its feet in roughly two weeks. What has that experience been like?
Awesome.  The students come in with such enthusiasm and energy.  It’s exhausting for sure but incredible how hard everyone works with the same goal of creating a major production in record time.  I am always so impressed with how quickly the students memorize lines, learn dance moves and how dedicated the production team is to making it the best experience possible.

Tell us about your bucket list — the roles you want to perform, the shows you want to direct, the dances you want to choreograph.
I would love to play Janet in The Drowsy Chaperone and Kari in the play The Pavilion by Craig Wright.  I always wanted to Direct/Choreograph Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat for teens because it was my favorite show as a teenager.

Clearly some great choices there for sure. What’s on your horizon — after Seussical – what do you have in store?
I recently received my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training certificate and am currently teaching Vinaysa Flow yoga at Simply Yoga in Exton.  I also teach a program called Let Your Yoga Dance® at the Yoga Barn in Kennett Square that combines yoga, dance and breath.  I have taken a great interest in my own well-being and helping others to find their strongest self.  I plan to use my training and Confidance® program to travel more and spread the joy!

Thanks again for sharing your experiences and wisdom — our young readers in particular will find this most helpful. In the meantime —break a leg on the Seussical The Musical – with only two weekends remaining. You are awesome in the show and your hard work has really paid off.

Tickets for this family friendly production can be purchased online at www.limepac.com – I encourage you to get your tickets today to see Nora and the rest of this amazing cast!