Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Daniel Goldstein: You Gotta Have Heart

photo by Jeremy Daniel
You Gotta Have Heart!
 -Richard Adler, Damn Yankees 

The show: Damn Yankees at Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam.

What's it about?: Fiftysomething Sox fanatic Joe Boyd offers his soul to the devil (in the guise of Mr. Applegate) if Joe's beloved team can beat the Yankees in the '52 pennant race. In an instant he is transformed into "Joe Hardy," a strapping, handsome super-hitter who takes Boston by storm, rallies his once-woeful teammates and eventually edges the Sox to victory. But in order not to have Joe exercise his "out" clause, the Devil brings in a vixen named Lola to tempt Joe and to get him to miss the deal's deadline.(Source: Frank Rizzo)

DANIEL GOLDSTEIN (Director) was most recently represented on Broadway by the revival of GODSPELL.
He has directed over 100 plays and musicals worldwide, including work at major theaters across America and Asia.
I first became familiar with Daniel's work, although I knew the name,  when I saw Hello, Dolly last summer at The Goodspeed Opera House, starring Klea Blackhurst and Tony Sheldon. The matchmaker who brought these two actors together and created magic in the process is Daniel Goldstein. I am excited to announce he has done it again. He has hit a home run with Goodspeed's currently running (through June 21st) Damn Yankees.This production is kicking off their 2014 season.   
In the midst of torrential rain (good luck in the theatre for opening night), I went to the press opening. I encourage ALL who love old fashioned musical comedy to go and see this production.

What fun to be able to leave the theatre actually singing the songs you've just heard. Same thing happened after seeing Beautiful last week.This version of the musical replaces the Washington Senators who battle the New York Yankees in the storyline with the Boston Red Sox. See Frank Rizzo's Review HERE.
Daniel and I sat down in the midst of his busy schedule yesterday to discuss his journey to Damn Yankees and where he goes from here.
Hello, Dolly was the first time Daniel directed at the Opera House.
He had directed over in Chester previously.
He was the associate director for All Shook Up, which was also in Chester.
Next season at Goodspeed is currently being planned. He hopes to be back, but as of this interview, who knows what the fates may have in store? Between May and April, he did three shows in a calendar year.
He feels like they have given him plenty of employment. He is OK taking a breather right now!
Daniel grew up in the suburbs of New York City, in Westchester. He went to Northwestern as a performance studies major.
Nicky Martin
He acted in shows and wrote adaptations of things and he was in the very first production of Metamorphoses which was then called Six Myths. He them moved to New York and started acting for a "hot minute" when he decided he didn't like that too much. He became a full time director and really got his start at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, where he was an intern for three or four summers. He was working with the very recently departed Nicky Martin.
Nicky became a dear friend and mentor. Daniel assisted him on five different shows. Nicky gave Daniel a job as the associate director on Fully Committed,which debuted at the Vineyard Theatre in 1999 before transferring to the Cherry Lane Theatre.
That led to Daniel directing all over the country and Canada for about three years. At twenty four and twenty five, Daniel was making his living in the theatre as a director. From there, he started doing a lot of his own work at various regional theatres. He also had a job for a little while as the resident director at Mamma Mia on tour. Some of that was helpful in terms of learning furthermore on the commercial side of theatre.
He was also the associate director of the original production of All Shook Up. That offered him a wonderful experience in the theatre.That led to Goodspeed, Chicago, and then New York.In the meantime, he did regional theatres in Pittsburgh, Boston, California, Dallas, shows in Japan, and internationally. Then, the Godspell revival on Broadway.
Now, he is a freelance director. As a writer, Daniel is currently under commission by the Public Theater, for which he is writing a musical adaptation of Tori Murden McClure's memoir A PEARL IN THE STORM with singer/songwriter Dawn Landes.  This is the true story of Tori Murden McClure, the first woman to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean. McClure’s memoir, subtitled, “How I Found My Heart in the Middle of the Ocean,” is more than a woman-against-the-elements adventure tale; it is, in the words of actress Candice Bergen, “a story of courage, adventure, and personal discovery that will appeal to women and men of all ages.” He was the recipient of an inaugural Calderwood Commission from the Huntington Theatre Company, for which he wrote an original musical with Michael Friedman entitled UNKNOWN SOLDIER, which was developed at the Manhattan Theater Club, O’Neill National Music Theater Conference and The McCarter Theater.
With Michael, he is also the author of THE SONG OF SONGS, an adaptation of the Sholem Aleichem novella.
During Hello, Dolly, the powers that be at Goodspeed Opera House took Daniel out for a drink and told him they were planning this season, which included Damn Yankees and if he was available to direct it.
Daniel believes that what Goodspeed is really good at is matching projects with directors with the right temperament. 
That means the right mood and sense of humor. For Damn Yankees, they needed someone who could find both the humor and the heart.Daniel looks at Damn Yankees as a love story between Joe and Meg.The real theme of the show, for Daniel, is really getting Joe back home. It's like The Wizard of Oz. How do we get him home? If that story doesn't really play, old Joe and Meg's relationship being something that we really believe in and rooting for, something is missing. The rest of the show is really fun and silly but doesn't really carry any weight to it. Daniel really worked hard to cast the right people and worked with them to make sure that story was central to the show.
When Daniel takes on a project, he takes it on as a completely new project, even when a show has a history such as Damn Yankees.
Klea Blackhurst makes a grand entrance as Dolly
When it came to Dolly, Daniel admits that he had never seen the movie. He had never seen a "proper" production of it, except when his brother appeared in it (as a small and adorable Barnaby) in the fifth grade. That was a good long time ago.
He didn't KNOW the show. He did know The Matchmaker very well.In fact, Klea and Daniel, as they were working on Dolly's speeches, each time, they put a couple of lines back in that had been cut from The Matchmaker. The material is almost a direct replication. Daniel looks at everything as a new project. He feels that if he is just doing something again that he can't do anything new with, he doesn't really see the point of doing it.  
Daniel is VERY involved in the casting process of his productions. He feels that is when the director can make the biggest impact that can be had. He has seen everyone prior to production and he knows what he desires from everyone.
Ann Arvia plays Meg Boyd and James Judy plays her husband, Joe Boyd,  (Cloe Poisson, )
The cast performs Shoeless Joe From Hannibal Mo Photograph by Diane Sobolewski
Some directors know it when they see it. Some directors know what they desire. Daniel likes to allow his actors to show him what they have to offer when they come into the room. He tries not to have a preconceived notion of what he wants. What is it that they do in an audition that surprises him about that character? What are they going to bring and how are they going to be collaborators in that process rather than people who are just going to do what he wants them to do, like puppets.
This is a really terrific cast. What Daniel really loves about this cast is that they are all "real people". In terms of a team, they worked hard not to make them look like a bunch of chorus boys. Daniel wanted a cast that looked like guys and looked like athletes, smaller and fatter and skinnier and taller and felt like a real "motley crew" of people.
Especially in those days, baseball players didn't look like giant steroided stars. They were players with large arms and all that stuff. Daniel thinks that these points were really important. This production isn't necessarily "period correct". The Red Sox were notoriously the last team in baseball to integrate.
The color line in American baseball, until the 1950s, excluded players of Black African descent from Major League Baseball and its affiliated Minor Leagues. Racial segregation in professional baseball was sometimes called a gentleman's agreement, meaning a tacit understanding, as there was no written policy at the highest level of baseball organization. Some older leagues did have rules against teams signing black players, with color lines drawn during the 1880s and 1890s.
Daniel believes very strongly that casts need to reflect our CURRENT society.
He also desires to reflect wishful trends in our country rather than having it all white.
Damn Yankees, Daniel had seen before, the recent Victor Garber/Bebe Neuwirth Broadway revival when
Victor Garber and Bebe Neuwirth: Photos - Playbill Vault
he was in high school. He didn't remember a whole bunch of it.It has been a solid twenty years since then. This is also a new adaptation by Joe DiPetro
After Daniel got the job, he and Joe sat down for a few afternoons and started working on the street so that they would be able to answer some questions for Daniel. They moved it from it's original setting of 1957 to 1952 so that when they asked for a long ball hitter, Ted Williams wasn't in the picture.
In 1957, Ted Williams wasn't playing for them and that would have been strange. In 1952, Ted Williams was in Korea. Williams name was called from a list of inactive reserves to serve on active duty in the Korean War on January 9, 1952.
A version of the Goodspeed script has been performed prior to this production. Joe was commissioned to originally do it for Northshore. For that production, a lot of changes were not made from the original script. It wasn't a "copy and paste", but rather simple substitutions.When Daniel got the job, he asked if they could look at the script a little more carefully. They made more changes and found more ways they could continue to tighten the script and continuing to make the show better, to continue to find ways to make the show more at home with making the Red Sox part of it. Daniel also likes the idea of trying to cater a production to the people you have in it. A case in point are Alyce Beasley (as Doris) and Kristine Zbornik (as Sister).
David Beach as Applegate (Diane Sobolewski)
Daniel added a lot more for them. They end Act One. That came out of the rehearsal process. They "messed around" a little more with the script to make it seem more at home on this path.
For me, personally, my only frame of reference is the movie and recordings. I recalled a larger female chorus, not the case with this production. The original production was created with a larger female chorus. Fosse was originally nervous that there wouldn't be enough "show biz", song and dance. That is why Who's Got The Pain? is in the original book. It is cut from Goodspeed's production because it has absolutely nothing to do with the story. In the original, it takes place within a talent show for the Senators (now Red Sox). Although it is a fun number, it doesn't further the story at all. In Six Months Out of Every Year, rather than just having it be Meg and the boys (as it is here), it was Meg and all the wives. Daniel and company felt much more excited about their version. The guys sort of "invade" her home. This was a decision that was made AFTER the casting process in terms of figuring out how to do that number without the female chorus.
Daniel (photo: Diane Sobolewski)
They decided they would make it be about Joe watching TV and Meg seeing all these men who emerge from the TV.
Daniel really loves the end of Act Two when Joe comes home after the team has lost and she smacks him on the chest and says, "Where have you been?" That has not been there in previous productions. It has been more of a careful question. Daniel thinks the way this is played now makes the moment much more real.
After the first read through, Daniel KNEW they had a great show here. They started with music and then did a read through. The same thing happened with Dolly.
Daniel in rehearsal (photo: Diane Sobolewski)
It was so much to just hear them and hear how silly and creative the entire cast was. Getting to watch them do different bits and create new things, once David Beach (Applegate)for example, started throwing in different things with props, it all began to gel. That's the way Daniel likes to work. Throw out a million idea and see which are the best ones. Get rid of all the rest.
For Dolly, they had four full weeks of rehearsal  before they did tech.
For Damn Yankees, they took away three full days and actually added an extra day of tech. It was three weeks plus two days in the rehearsal room.
(photo: Diane Sobolewski)
With Dolly, it was four full weeks in the rehearsal room. With Dolly, they had a lot of run throughs.They had a good amount for Damn Yankees. Daniel likes to run a lot of things fast. He believes everyone learns a lot as they are running it. Everyone also gets a real strong sense of how it is ebbing and flowing. He does the best he can with all of this.
It is a luxurious process.
I asked Daniel what his worst experience has been as a director. He says that comes along when he is working with actors who don't trust him. There are some who have no trust from beginning to end. There are road blocks when there is a lack of ability to trust.
It’s all about “The Game” Photo Credit © Diane Sobolewski
As for the score for Damn Yankees, Daniel likes it very much. He doesn't feel that is the greatest score every written for musical theatre. Some of the songs are a little less than interesting. He does, however, feel that there is so much heft to the show which keeps it really exciting. In so many ways, he really loves what this company has done with this production.
He really appreciates that what they are able to do at Goodspeed. He also loves working with Dan Delange (orchestrator) on these orchestrations. He says he is so smart and they have a really great working relationship. Daniel gets to work really hard with him to continue to craft the show.
Photo by Diane Sobolewski

Has Daniel ever been truly satisfied with any work  he's created? Has any work turned out exactly as he desired it to? 
He has one or two. "It's never perfect."
Daniel feels like a very lucky person. He gets to show up in a room and people sing and dance and act silly for him because he's asked them to. Not many people get to do that. 
Words and Music by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross | Book by George Abbott and Douglass Wallop | Based on the novel by Douglass Wallop The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant  | Book Adaptation for the Red Sox Version by Joe DiPietro | Scenic Design by Adrian W. Jones | Costume Design by David C. Woolard | Lighting Design by Brian Tovar | Sound Design by Jay Hilton | Music Direction by Michael O'Flaherty | Choreographed by Kelli Barclay
Angel Reda (Lola) Photo by Diane Sobolewski

To learn more, go to Goodspeed Opera House's website for more info and to order tickets.

Keep checking their website for updates.
Read more about Damn Yankees.

Review: “Damn Yankees” Opens Goodspeed Musicals Season
By Westfield NewsRoom on May 5, 2014

Thank you ALL of the artists mentioned in this blog for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give!

 With grateful XOXOXs ,

Check out my site celebrating the FIRST Fifty years of  Hello, Dolly!

I desire this to be a definitive account of Hello, Dolly!  If any of you reading this have appeared in any production of Dolly, I'm interested in speaking with you!

If you have anything to add or share, please contact me at


Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!          

Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!
With grateful XOXOXs for your support!
Richard Skipper

I hope you can join us June 1st in Nyack for Treason! Would LOVE to see you! Bring friends! It’s going to be star-studded party!

Keeping Entertainment LIVE!
Richard Skipper Celebrates

Damn Yankees (1955 Original Broadway Cast)       

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