In Part 5 of a series of interviews with the cast of The Metropolitan Youth Theatre’s RENT, meet Danny Waldman.
Introduce yourself and tell our readers where they may have seen you before on local stages.
Hi, my name is Danny Waldman. I’ve done a lot work with community theatres in the Prince William County area, and with my high school, Woodbridge Senior HS. I have also performed with the Theatre Lab in a few of the straight plays, during their summer acting institute. This is my first production with MYT, and so far, I am really enjoying the process.
Who do you play in RENT and how do you relate to your character? Does this character have any of your personality or traits?
I play the amateur film-maker, Mark, who introduces many of the characters and narrates certain parts of the show. I’d like to think that I’m similar to him in regards to his compassion. Even though Mark is struggling with poverty and loneliness, he still finds ways to support his friends and keep his family alive. I look up to him for that, and I feel that playing him will help me grow in that way as well.
What has been the biggest challenge learning to play this role?
Mark’s situation is very different from the other characters; most of his friends have AIDS, so he is struggling to accept the fact that one day they will all be gone and he will be left alone. This realization gives him an internal conflict that forces him to take up his camera and begin documenting the rest of his time with his friends. Mark’s character changes many times during the show and the difficult part about portraying him is figuring out how deep certain events impact him. In the script, Mark seems very shallow and surface level, but on the inside he is experiencing some very powerful inner turmoil, so the challenge is to show the audience both his outer and inner emotions
Which character in RENT is most like you and how?
I feel that I can relate to every character in some way. I share optimism with Collins, pride with Roger, and humor with Maureen and Angel. If I can learn to appreciate the characters off-stage, it makes connecting onstage easier.
What have you learned about yourself-the actor and singer-during this experience?
The show itself has taught me a lot about friendship and loyalty, and performing with such high-quality actors has given me tons of experience as an artist. Working on a show like RENT gives you a multitude of new perspectives, and through this process, my eyes have been opened to a variety of different outlooks. Coming out of this, I have new knowledge of the world that will inevitably help me in the future.
What does RENT have to say to theatregoers of your generation and how is it still relevant?
RENT, to me, is more than a story about AIDS and poverty, it is also a story about perseverance and support. RENT‘s message is both tragic and hopeful; life will undoubtedly hit you hard and tear you apart, but as long as you have friends and motivation, you can push past it. The story of RENT is a reminder to everyone that nothing is permanent but love. This show has been a huge inspiration to everyone I work with and working on it has been a dream come true.
What song that you do not sing is your favorite and why?
“I’ll Cover You (Reprise)” is one of my favorite songs in all of musical theatre history. Its composition is beautiful and heartfelt, and the emotional build that it has is overwhelmingly powerful. There is always a lot of improvisation when it is performed, so every artist is able to make it their own. The song also includes the chorus from “Seasons of Love” towards the end. It has always had a big impact on me and always will.
Have you appeared in other productions of RENT and if so-who did you play- and how is this production different and unique?
This is my first production of RENT, but I’m sure I will encounter it again at some point later on in my theatrical career.
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing your performance in RENT?
I hope that they will experience a different perspective on life, and take away a lesson about valuing love and friendship.
The Metropolitan Youth theatre presents a student directed, produced, and performed version of the Broadway musical RENT on July 31, 2015 at 7:30 pm, August 1st and 2:00 pm and 7:30 pm, and August 2nd at 2:00 pm – at 1st Stage – 1524 Spring Hill Road, in McLean, VA. Purchase your tickets at the door or online.
Meet the Cast of The Metropolitan Youth Theatre’s ‘RENT‘: Part 1: Marcia Cunning.
Meet the Cast of The Metropolitan Youth Theatre’s ‘RENT’: Part 2: Jordan Sledd.
Meet the Cast of The Metropolitan Youth Theatre’s ‘RENT’: Part 3: Ben Cherington.
Meet the Cast of The Metropolitan Youth Theatre’s ‘RENT’: Part 4: Cara Bachman.