Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Spotlight On...Douglas McDonnell

Name: Douglas McDonnell

Hometown: Manhattan

Education: BA, Computer Science and Geology double major, Cornell University. BFA, Classical Voice, City College of the City University of New York

Select Credits: Tom Jones The Musical (Tom Jones), The Death of Don Juan (Don Juan), Beauty and the Beast (The Beast, opera version by Lois Spohr), The Beggar's Opera (Macheath)

Why theater?: Because I love the drama, love being the character, I love being able to connect with a role, and to connect with an audience in that fashion. Also because I love the release and freedom of stepping outside myself and owning a character, pulling the audience out of their world for a time, and getting them to feel what's going on in the world we are creating for them.

Tell us about Nicholas Nickleby, A New Musical: Robert Sickenger did a phenomenal job of condensing the Charles Dickens novel into an action-packed stage adventure. After Nicholas' father dies, he finds himself penniless and at the mercy of his uncle's begrudging generosity. In Nicholas' travels he has the opportunity to defend the well-being of the oppressed, as well as the honor of his sister Kate. There is a colorful acting troupe, evil school masters, and of course, romance!

What is it like being a part of Nicholas Nickleby?: It's a wonderful experience. I'm working with an amazingly talented and diverse group of actors – from seasoned stage veterans to kids. And I'm thrilled to work with our director, Lissa Moira, again!

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I enjoy all aspects of theater if there is a high level of commitment from the actors. I'll admit to very high expectations when music is involved – it can be highly experimental, but it has to be exact. That being said, I love performing in all genres. Musical Theater, opera, and operetta – to me, when done well, they are all the same. The styles of their music may differ, but other than that, good acting is good acting, period.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: My two favorite musicals, and it's so hard to pick favorites with the amount of good work out there, are Evita and Kismet. Che and Caliph are both dream roles for me. But my dreams don't stop there – I'd love to play the Phantom, and Sweeney Todd. And on the comic side, just for fun, I would absolutely love to play Miles Gloriosus from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum!

What’s your favorite showtune?: That's a tough one, because there are so many that I like. I'd say "Stranger in Paradise" from Kismet if I had to pick one. But pretty much anything from Evita, or A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, would also be up there. I'd also throw "Defying Gravity" from Wicked into the mix!

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Mandy Patinkin – definitely - he's always been an actor and singer I greatly admire. With TV, film, theater and musical credits in which he has always been the consummate actor, I don't think it's an exaggeration to call him my idol.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: How about Leonardo Di Caprio? As to the title, perhaps "The Many Loves and Lives of Douglas"?

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Actually, I like to recommend La Boheme or La Traviata as a way to introduce my friends to my great love, opera. Their stories are modern, the plots are powerful – Rent is of course based on La Boheme – and they are a perfect way to gently introduce someone to the art form.

What’s the most played song on your iTunes?: Billy Joel – “And So It Goes”

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: A really good bottle of red wine – a nice Barolo, Brunello, or a Tignanello.

What’s up next?: Nothing definite, but I'm contemplating an offer to sing opera in Germany this fall. And of course, I look forward to continuing on with Nicholas Nickleby as it moves forward.