In Part 1 of a series of interviews with the cast of Silhouette Stages Next to Normal, meet Jeremy Goldman.
Joel: Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Jeremy: I live in Howard County, MD with my wife, Allison, and my two kids, ages 10 and 7. I started performing at age 10 and continued performing throughout high school and college; I graduated from the University of Maryland in 2000 with a degree in Theater. After performing in a few shows in the Washington, D.C. area, including a national tour with the Kennedy Center, I eventually enrolled in law school at the University of Baltimore School of Law and graduated in 2009. I now work full-time for a large defense contractor and volunteer with several non-profit organizations, including as a member of the Silhouette Stages Board of Directors.
Why did you want to play Dan?
Dan is a character that is both relatable and challenging. I think many fathers and husbands like me can relate to Dan. He always puts his family first and will do anything at any cost to maintain harmony in his household – even to his own detriment. Dan has a great sense of humor, is an eternal optimist, and a hopeless romantic. I enjoy playing a character to which audiences can personally connect. However, I am also fascinated by Dan because of his optimistic, unconditional loyalty combined with his deep emotional struggles.
What are some of the challenges of playing Dan?
This role is a challenge for me as an actor and as a singer. Dan presents an acting challenge because on the surface he appears to be keeping it all together, but internally he is battling many emotional demons. How and when those internal struggles come out over the course of the show is something I continuously work on in rehearsals. The show is also vocally demanding because most of the dialogue is sung. I have never had the chance to play such a complex character, nor have I had the chance to sing such a difficult score. So for me, this role is an opportunity to stretch both my acting and singing skills, and I am grateful for that opportunity.
How have Director Steven Fleming and Musical Director Scott AuCoin helped you shape your performance?
Steven is a brilliant director and I enjoy his process in shaping characters and creating moments. He allows the cast to try new things on stage to see what happens organically, but also gives detailed blocking to create specific moments. Through both methods, Steven allowed me to explore different ways in which Dan experiences things, which ultimately taught me a lot about the character’s journey throughout the show. Our musical director, Scott, is incredibly talented and has helped the cast maintain good vocal health during rehearsals of this intense score. He has skillfully shaped the sound of our show, provided singing techniques to support my performance, and his passion for this score will be apparent to our audiences. Steven and Scott are a dream team for a production like Next To Normal, in which both the characters and the music are both critical to the performance.
What do we learn about Dan when you sing your songs?
Many of Dan’s songs happen when he finds himself at a critical moment in which things are about to change for the better (like the song “It’s Gonna Be Good”) or for the worse (like the song “I’ve Been”). Those songs offer a glimpse into Dan’s inner struggle, his optimism, and his hopefulness. Like I did initially, audiences might question why Dan makes certain critical decisions in the show; those questions are usually answered through his songs. My songs generally happen at a time when the audience needs to better understand why Dan has made or is about to make an important choice. My favorite song as Dan is the ballad “Light in the Dark,” which is the last song in Act 1.
What challenges have you had learning Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey’s score?
The score is as challenging as it is beautiful. Some of the vocal harmonies contain so many dissonant notes that often the correct chord sounds wrong. For example, in the song “Better Than Before” the final chord sung by Dan, Diana, and Natalie is held over the opening of the next song, which is in a different key. I believe these musical complexities reflect of the complexity of what the characters are going through; that dissonant chord I mentioned is sung at a transformative moment for certain characters. The score’s genius is that its complexity is character-driven – the unique rhythms and harmonies reflect what the characters are going through at that moment, which enhances the experience for the audience.
What are you doing next on the stage?
I don’t know what is next for me on the stage, but as a member of the Silhouette Stages Board of Directors, I will be involved in some capacity with our exciting 2016-17 season of musical comedies: Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein, Lucky Stiff, and Legally Blonde.
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing Next to Normal at Silhouette Stages?
This show is a roller coaster ride of emotions, but I believe the ride ends on a high note. Without giving too much away, the show ultimately sends a message of hope for those struggling with mental illness and family dysfunction. The last song of the show is “Light” which conveys the message that there will always be light after the darkness. I hope audiences take with them that message of hope. “Light” also contains my favorite lyric in the show:
The price of love is loss, but still we pay… we love anyway.