Taking a closer look at Madison theater
Aug 14, 2014
02:17 PMStage Write
Stage Right/Stage Wrong: APT's David Daniel Has a Mustache in His Hand
PHOTO BY ZANE WILLIAMS
"It was what you'd call a beautiful death," says David Daniel, shown here as Hotspur (L) in APT's 2008 production of 'Henry IV: The Making of A King' of his final scene with Matt Schwader's Prince Hal.
As anyone in the theater universe can tell you, there are times when everything on stage goes just perfectly: The audience is thrilled and a unique and memorable magic is created.
And then there are the times when the line gets dropped, the prop falls over or the actor suffers a Jennifer Lawrence-at-the-Oscars-level stumble.
Most actors, directors and designers have the grace and style to appreciate and/or survive both types of moments, but it’s the really confident ones who are willing to relive and share them with us. American Players Theatre core company member David Daniel did more than that: The man who’s playing Benedick to Colleen Madden’s Beatrice in APT’s production of Much Ado About Nothing also gave us a couple quick peeks into his backstage routines.
STAGE RIGHT: It was a clash of acting titans when Daniel and Matthew Schwader crossed swords in APT’s 2008 staging of Shakespeare’s Henry IV: the Making of a King. Daniel played Hotspur to Schwader’s Prince Hal, and, as anyone who’s seen or read the play knows, Daniel’s character ends part one of the play on the business end of his rival’s steel.
“We were all feeling very manly, gritting our teeth and spitting on each other,” recalls Daniel.
The final lines of Hotspur’s dying “food for worms” speech end up being spoken by Hal, and director James Bohnen staged it such that Hotspur gave up the ghost while lying in his co-star’s arms. On one particular night, a bit of light rain combined with the stage lights—and Schwader’s good looks—to create another of those thank-you-Mother-Nature moments.
“I could see the lights flaring like little rainbows behind Matt’s head,” says Daniel. “Matt’s looking down at me with his beautiful baby blue eyes. It’s what you’d call a beautiful death.”
STAGE WRONG: In APT’s 2012 production of George S. Kaufman’s The Royal Family, Daniel played Oscar, agent and manager to a family of vain and all too self-aware actors. A key piece of his costume was a huge, bushy mustache.
As it happens, a big part of Daniel’s regular backstage routine includes having a little something to eat between acts or scenes to keep him focused and keep his energy up. For each break, he wisely removed the mustache to avoid having it spattered with crumbs (or worse.) On one particular night, he had returned to his backstage mark and was listening to Tracy Michelle Arnold’s character delver the speech that marked his cue…
…when he suddenly realized he wasn’t wearing the mustache.
“I did a frantic hundred-yard dash to the dressing room, grabbed the mustache and raced back to the stage,” says Daniel. “It was only after I was onstage that I realized it’s in my hand. I don’t have it on my face. Because, you know, that’s what’s important, I have my mustache in my hand.”
Arnold gave Daniel one of her trademark seriously? looks and played on, and Daniel did the entire scene sans ‘stache, re-adding it to his ensemble for ensuing scenes.
“I remember the complete sense of relief I felt—at least I brought it on stage,” says Daniel. “I take full responsibility for any audience confusion.”
Daniel’s APT season has much more yet in store. He’ll star as a mustache-free Heracles in David Frank’s production of Alcestis, set to open in October.