From Aldolpho to Billis: Tony Nominee Burstein Enjoys the Creative Challenge

Tony Awards   From Aldolpho to Billis: Tony Nominee Burstein Enjoys the Creative Challenge
 
"It was a difficult birth," Danny Burstein says about the audition process for the current, acclaimed Lincoln Center Theater revival of South Pacific. "I had like six callbacks and never thought I would get it. They just kept calling me back time and time again. I pinch myself that I'm actually here."

Victor Hawks, Danny Burstein and Noah Weisberg in South Pacific.
Victor Hawks, Danny Burstein and Noah Weisberg in South Pacific. Photo by Joan Marcus

Burstein continues, "I keep using the word 'honor.' That's truly what it is. It's an honor to be in this show, South Pacific, the very first [Broadway] revival [of the musical]. It is such an iconic show with so many wonderfully talented people at the top of their game. I keep thinking, 'What the hell am I doing in the room?' It's a great thing. This is my tenth Broadway show, and I have never been part of anything like this. This is just a revolution. It's a juggernaut that's taken off in ways that I never could have imagined."

Burstein is Tony-nominated for his portrayal of the entrepreneurial sailor Luther Billis in the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, which is currently playing to sold-out houses at the Vivian Beaumont Theater.

Burstein says that director Bartlett Sher gave the cast much freedom in developing their roles. "I think that Bart encourages you to make things up and just try and find different facets of the character that nobody knew was even there before," Burstein says. "That, I think, is my job. When people say to me, 'Oh, I didn't know you were the same actor who played this or played that,' [then] . . . I think I've done my job. They are so overwhelmed that that's the same person. I'm very proud of that."

In fact, audiences who only know Burstein as Aldolpho, the Latin lothario of The Drowsy Chaperone, would hardly recognize the actor in his latest role.

"I actually thought about whether to put that in the bio, 'Aldolpho in Drowsy Chaperone,'" Burstein explains, "and I didn't because I wanted people to not think of me in that other way, but to think of me in this different way. Let them think it's a different actor [and they're] seeing somebody brand new." He adds, "When I was first auditioning for the role, I told a friend of mine I was auditioning for it and she said, 'It's not really you, a wheeler dealer, a schemer…' And I thought, 'Boy that gives me the challenge to really, really go after it and be different.' That's what I like in acting. That's the most challenging part in finding and being someone that is different from you, not just in your heart but physically and everything."

Burstein has also been seen on Broadway A Little Hotel on the Side, The Seagull, Saint Joan, Three Men on a Horse, The Flowering Peach, Company, Titanic and A Class Act.

Danny Burstein (center) and the cast of <i>South Pacific</i>.<p><br></p>
Danny Burstein (center) and the cast of South Pacific.


Photo by Joan Marcus
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