Talking in the Green Room With: Dan Kelley

Welcome to a regular, if intermittent feature: Irreverent, lighthearted question & answer sessions with some of South Florida’s best known professionals .

 In this edition, we talk with Dan Kelley (currently starring in  and directing A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at Broward Stage Door) who reveals what he says to a friend who’s appearing in a dog.

Dan Kelley

Hometown: Fort Wayne, Indiana

How long have you lived/worked in South Florida?
26 years

 I attended Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, for a year then moved to New York.

What role/play are you dying to do but no one would think of you for?
Mama Rose

What show do you wish somebody down here would produce?
 Gypsy…and cast me as Mama Rose.

What show will you be happy never to see again unless it gets you a job?

What do you say when someone you like is in a terrible show or does a poor job?
Wow!! It looked like you were having a blast up there !!

How do you cope when there are more people on stage than in the audience?
Play the show. I detest the actor who complains about the size of the house. The customer paid. You’re getting paid. Play the damn play.

What’s the hardest/easiest part of what you do?
Hardest — maybe dealing with a lot of “diverse” egos. Easiest – It’s easy doing what you love.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Getting there early.

What do you do after a show?
Drive home.

What was the first show you were involved in and what did you do?
 I was 11 years old and I landed the small yet pivotal role of Mr. Beaver in a production of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. It was a children’s summer program that toured the local parks. The bus driver gave us each a quarter and told us that we were now professional actors because we got “paid.” I thought that was really nice.

When did you know this was what you wanted to do and why?
I don’t know for sure. I remember in the first grade our assignment for parents’ night was to make a little poster out of construction paper and crayons that illustrated our long term career plans. ( First grade?!) All the other boys drew little baseball players and fireman. I drew a little red-curtained stage and my caption was ( I swear) “Acting, Acting, I Think I’m Cracking.”  My Mother saved it… I’m sure my Father wanted to burn it.

What do you think has been your best work in the theater to date, and why?
Acting — Man In Chair (in Broward Stage Door’s The Drowsy Chaperone) because doing the role taught me something about myself as a person and the part just seemed like a really good fit. Directing — Parade (Broward Stage Door) because I was really passionate about that piece of musical theater  and it pushed me outside of my comfort zone as a director.

What do you think was your worst, and why didn’t it work?
 I have done some pretty crappy stuff. I would say as an actor it would have to be Boca Bound at Jan’s Upstairs Cabaret Theatre. It was wrong…and my partner Greg still makes fun of some of those terrible lyrics.

What was your best experience working in theater?
I think maybe my first show with Bob Bogdanoff at The Ruth Foreman Theatre. At that time Bogdanoff was the king down here and to be cast in one of his shows was a big deal. The show was 1940’s Radio Hour and the cast was filled with a bunch of really talented folk and I was so excited to be a member of that company.

What was your worst?
Off The Top Of My Head, an oh-so-bad musical at The Carillon Hotel. Be careful what you wish for – all my life I dreamed of being on an original cast recording. Well, the  producers decided to record the show so my dream (?) came true… sort of.

What one role/show would you like to do over or just do again?
Man In Chair in Drowsy Chaperone.

What was the worst on-stage mishap you dealt with?
One time I was doing La Cage Aux Folles  and I was all dressed up in some pink sequined dress and the revolve got jammed at the end of the number. So I sort of hiked up my dress and tried to push the  revolve into the right position.  It wasn’t very pretty and it was too heavy so we played the rest of the act on the wrong “set.”

What’s your day job?
I work as a booking agent for Costume World. It is really fun speaking with producers and directors all over the country and helping them with their productions.

What’s the weirdest/worst non-theater job you ever had?
Nothing really, just same old waiting tables, retail, nothing really odd or interesting.

Do you have unexpected special talents and skills?
It turns out I am a really good cook.

What would you do if you couldn’t be in theater?
I would never not “be” in theater. I don’t care if I had to go down to the community theater and monitor auditions. I will always have my hand in the theater.

What’s your most unforgettable theater experience?
I forgot.

What TV programs do you DVR when you’re working a show?
Nothing on television grabs me enough to feel the need to do any of that.

Whose music can you not live without?
Show music…I know…what a surprise.

Why doesn’t South Florida theater have a higher profile nationally?
Because it doesn’t get cold down here and everyone knows that good theater can’t be done anywhere that the seasons don’t change.

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