Meet the Cast of ‘Danny Boy’ at Unexpected Stage Company: Part 3: Meet Briana Manente

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In Part 3 in a series of interviews with the cast of Danny Boy at Unexpected Stage Company, meet Briana Manente.

Briana Manente (Dori), Scott Strasbaugh (Danny), and Justus Hammond (Gabe). Photo by David Lewis.
Briana Manente (Dori), Scott Strasbaugh (Danny), and Justus Hammond (Gabe). Photo by David Lewis.

Joel: Introduce yourself to our readers and tell them where you received your theater training and where they may have seen you before on the stage?

Briana: My name is Briana Manente. I am currently enrolled at Catholic University of America pursuing my M.F.A. in Acting. Over the past two and a half years, I’ve been involved in many projects at Catholic University where I most recently played Portia in Merchant of Venice directed Eleanor Holdridge. Outside of Catholic University, I’ve been involved in the Capital Fringe Festival in both 2013’s Pick of the Fringe Best Comedy The D.C. State Players Present: Agamemnon and in 2014 as Marina in La Llorona. Most recently, I worked with Annapolis Shakespeare Company in Moliere’s The Imaginary Invalid; I played Toinette.

Why did you want to get involved with this production of Danny Boy?

I saw the audition and I thought that the story was intriguing. I wanted the opportunity to be part of a new work.

Had you ever been involved with the show before or heard about the show before? 

Never.

Who are you playing in the show?

Dori. One of Danny’s best friends.

How do you relate to Dori?

Dori is headstrong and outspoken not unlike myself, so in that vein I identify with her. She is also very driven towards getting what she wants in her career and in her personal life, which I too can identify with.

What do you admire about Dori and what do you not admire about him?

I admire her blunt nature and her quick wit. I do not admire the way she handles her romantic relationships. She can be a bit manipulative and a bit superficial in that regard.

How will audiences relate to Dori? 

They will identify with her honesty and with her desire to see Danny be happy and empowered.

What have been some of the challenges you have had preparing for your role and how has your director helped you resolve them? What personal experiences have helped you develop your performance?

On the page, Dori can come off very mean! Chris really helped me find moments to soften Dori and take the edge off her. I think that really helped to humanize her and allowed for a few moments of her vulnerability to peek through her tough outer shell.

What scene in the entire show moves you the most? 

The scene where Danny finally confronts his mother about the Little People of America and the word “dwarf” is incredibly moving to me. It is a moment of power for Danny and he takes ownership of himself, which is just beautiful and heartbreaking. Scott and Lois do such a fantastic job bringing the mother-son relationship to life with all of its twists, turns and pitfalls.

What do you want audiences to take away with them after seeing Danny Boy?

I want them to really just take Danny’s story away with them. The story about love, loss, family and what it is to try and find your place in the world.

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Danny Boy plays from October 16-26, 2014 at Unexpected Stage Company-performing at Randolph Road Theater-4010 Randolph Road, in Silver Spring, MD. For tickets, call (800) 838-3006, or purchase them online.

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Joel Markowitz
Joel Markowitz is the Publisher and Editor of DCMetroTheaterArts. He founded the site with his brother Bruce to help promote the vast riches of theatre and the arts in the DC Metro area that includes Maryland, Virginia, and DC theater and music venues, universities, schools, Children's theaters, professional, and community theatres. Joel is an advocate for promoting the 'stars of the future' in his popular 'Scene Stealers' articles. He wrote a column for 5 years called ‘Theatre Schmooze’ and recorded podcast interviews for DC Theatre Scene. His work can also be seen and read on BroadwayStars. Joel also wrote a monthly preview of what was about to open in DC area theatres for BroadwayWorld. He is an avid film and theater goer, and a suffering Buffalo Bills and Sabres fan. Joel was a regular guest on 'The Lunch and Judy Show' radio program starring Judy Stadt in NYC. Joel founded The Ushers Theatre Going Group in the DC area in 1990, which had a 25-year run when it took its final curtain call last year. Joel is a proud member of The American Critics Association.