In Part 4 of a series of interviews with the cast of A Grand Night for Singing at Montgomery Playhouse, meet Danny Santiago.
Joel: Please introduce yourself and tell us where we may have seen your work on our local stages before? Who did you play?
Danny: Hello, I’m Danny Santiago, you may have recently seen me as Eugene in Brighton Beach Memoirs with SSTG at the Arts Barn or as Fyedka in Fiddler on the Roof with Damascus Theatre Company at Olney Theatre Center.
Why did you want to be part of the cast of A Grand Night for Singing?
For one, I’ve been achin’ to work with our director Kevin Sockwell, since I was Jay in his Lost in Yonkers nearly 4 years ago now, But also because I was criminally underexposed to Rodgers and Hammerstein before the show and was looking to acquaint myself more intimately. Not to mention I’ve been wanting to sing more, in shows and just in general, recently.
What were the biggest challenges learning your songs?
Learning to really go with the flow of the songs, especially with some of the more radical arrangements and obscure songs. It was a really rewarding experience, though, when I finally got all my parts down.
What do your songs/solos mean to you?
My first song In the show, “Surrey with the Fringe on Top” from Oklahoma!, is a lot of fun for me because it’s very charming and endearing and those are two things I would certainly like to imagine myself being.
“Maria” from The Sound of Music is my other big song. It’s a lot of fun because I can play off of the audience a little and use some of the very real very nervous energy I have on stage to tell the tale of a lovelorn young lad.
How would you describe a Rodgers and Hammerstein song?
Lots of repetition! Beautiful nearly-universal lyrics that are very easy to relate to.
What do these songs have to say to today’s audiences?
I think a lot of the songs, especially in this show talk about the sort of inherent magic to being in love. And I think that even if the audience has never been in love, the songs can really give good examples of the good the bad and the ugly sides of falling in and being in love.
What song that you are not singing is your favorite and why?
Probably “If I Loved You” from Carousel. It’s an absolutely breathtaking piece of music and I adore the lyrics, that personally really resonate with me, and it’s just a gorgeous song.
This is an ensemble piece. What do you admire most about your fellow cast members? And what have you learned about being a member of an ensemble that you hadn’t experienced before?
I’ve been in shows with each of these actors (minus one) in various configurations in the past couple years that I’ve been doing community theater shows, and I absolutely adore every single one of them. They all have such a spark and willingness in them to try anything and I admire that so much. Being in such a small cast has helped me learn to embrace the idiosyncrasies within myself as well as my other cast members, as with larger casts I would often be more afraid to be myself.
Why do you think Rodgers and Hammerstein’s music is till so popular and if you had to describe their legacy-what would it be?
Oscar Hammerstein II is a master of dialects in lyric, and Richard Rodgers’ music can be anything: soaring, claustrophobic, melancholy, or the very embodiment of cheeriness. It’s interesting to note that even while being sort of reconceptualized as a couple of the numbers in this show are, the music’s flexibility never tampers with the meaning. If I had to describe their legacy I’d say it was and possibly will always be near unrivaled in the world of musical theater.
What are you doing next on the stage?
Rock And Roll Revival #45 at Sherwood High School.
If you could have any role in a Rodgers and Hammerstein show, what would it be?
Lieutenant Cable in South Pacific or Billy Bigelow in Carousel.
A Grand Night for Singing plays from February 12-27, 2016 at Montgomery Playhouse performing at The Arts Barn – 311 Kent Square Road, in Gaithersburg, MD. For tickets, call (301) 258-6394, or purchase them online.
Meet the Cast of The Montgomery Playhouse’s ‘A Grand Night for Singing’: Part 1: Brian Lyons-Burke.
Meet the Cast of The Montgomery Playhouse’s ‘A Grand Night for Singing’: Part 2: Jennifer Georgia.
Meet the Cast of The Montgomery Playhouse’s ‘A Grand Night for Singing’: Part 3: Lauren-Nicole Gabel
Meet the Cast of The Montgomery Playhouse’s ‘A Grand Night for Singing’: Part 4: Danny Santiago.