PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: Golden Boy's Daniel Jenkins
By Matthew Blank
December 25, 2012
Tony Award nominee Daniel Jenkins, who appears in the role of Barker in the current revival of Clifford Odets' Golden Boy at the Belasco Theatre, fills out Playbill.com's questionnaire of random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.
Past Broadway credits include Billy Elliot, Mary Poppins, Wrong Mountain, Big (Drama Desk nomination), Angels in America and Big River (Tony nomination).
He has appeared on screen in "O.C. and Stiggs" (dir. Robert Altman), "Tanner ’88," "The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial," "Joshua," "Cradle Will Rock," "Glory," "In Country," "What Comes Around," "Infested," "The Perfect You" and "Five Corners."
Full given name:
Where you were born/where you were raised:
Born in Manhattan. Raised in Kentucky and Ohio. Go figure, y'all!
What your parents did/do for a living:
My dad's still
acting: Ken Jenkins - best known as "Dr. Kelso" on "Scrubs."
My mother, Joan Patchen was an artist, teacher and activist. My stepmother Katharine
Houghton is a writer and actor.
Matthew is a musician living in Chicago and Joshua is a best boy in L.A.
Current audition song/monologue:
An old Sondheim tune on the ukelele. Fun to play, but I'm not sure what it's like to listen
I play a bunch of instruments, lacking mastery in any of them.
Something you're REALLY bad at:
Tap dancing. I love to attempt it, but I look a bit like a junkie being shot at.
First Broadway show you ever saw:
A Chorus Line with my high school class
Did you have any particular mentors or inspirations when first starting out?
My dad, of course. Watching him play Hamlet, Cyrano, McMurphy. But my high school drama
teachers were huge in my life - Becky Brunsman and Suzanne Grote. They gave me an enormous
sense of belonging and validation. Forever grateful.
If you could go back in time and catch any Broadway show, what would it be?
Wow. Hmmm. I think of the original Odets, Miller, O'Neill pieces... but I would have loved
to see Carol Burnett in Once Upon a Mattress. (Is it redundant to say we did it in
Current or recent shows you recommended to friends:
Pig Pen's The Old Man and the Old Moon
Favorite showtune(s) of all time:
I love how weird and cool "My Time of Day" from Guys and Dolls is. And absolutely
everything from Ain't Misbehavin' - Fats Waller is genius. And so is Randy Newman.
And of course, Mr. Sondheim, who I will spend the rest of my life just discovering the
first layer of...
Some favorite modern musicals:
I loved Light in the Piazza,Caroline or Change, Spring Awakening and
Some favorite classic musicals:
Guys and Dolls Oklahoma! West Side Story Oliver!
Some favorite modern playwrights:
Russell Davis, Nicky Silver, Athol Fugard, Tony Kushner
Broadway or screen stars of the past you would most have loved to perform with:
Ethel Merman - so I could tell some good stories. Dustin Hoffman - to see his grin in
person. But truly, I love and learn so much from the amazingly gifted people I actually
get to work with -- I am hugely fortunate.
Your personal vocal or acting idols, living or dead:
Well, my dad is hard to beat. But there is rarely a time when I go to the theatre and
don't come away thinking, "How do they do that?!"
The one performance – attended - that you will never forget:
James Earl Jones and Mary Alice in Fences. I moved downstairs for the second act
and was blown away.
And - my dad again - watching Cuckoo's Nest as a youngster. I couldn't stand up for
the ovation because I was so affected by it.
Music that makes you cry, any genre:
Classical guitar. I learned a little and played my boys to sleep when they were younger,
but I was crying even before then...
MAC or PC?
MAC. Since you had to wind one up.
Most played song on your iPod:
Probably something by Randy Newman. "Shame" perhaps.
I'm a NY Times.com guy. I love watching the Mark Bittman cooking videos.
Last book you read:
"Gypsy Boy" by Mikey Walsh
Last good movie you saw:
I enjoyed "Argo," but I have a lot of movies to catch up on.
Some films you consider classics:
I love Bergman, Hitchcock, Preston Sturgess... So many more.
Performer you would drop everything to go see:
Ha if we're talking "guilty," then probably Beyonce or Ke$ha. Also "Jersey Shore" and
Randy Newman is a favorite. If there was a triple bill with him, James Taylor and Bonnie
Raitt, I'd mortgage the apartment.
Pop culture guilty pleasure:
Nicki Minaj. Just so wonderfully out there.
Three favorite cities:
NYC, of course. Siena. Seattle.
I love watching the Knicks this year. They're playing like a real team. Fun to see.
First CD/Tape/LP you owned:
"Zenyatta Mondatta" by The Police. Vinyl.
First stage kiss:
With my dear pal Esme in high school. Me: Will. She: Ado Annie. Oklahoma!
Favorite or most memorable onstage role as a child/teenager:
loved getting to play El Gallo in The Fantasticks. Way too young to understand it --
and way too much fun.
Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living:
After my apprenticeship in Louisville I was invited to join the company the next year. I
felt like I had won the lottery!
How you got your Equity card:
Favorite pre-/post- show meal:
I do love the matzo ball soup from the Edison Cafe.
Favorite liquid refreshment:
Hmmm. How about a root beer float?
Pre-show rituals or warm-ups:
I love tongue twisters. Send me some!
Most challenging role you have ever played:
Yikes. Prior in Angels in America maybe? More recently, Max in Blue Flower
(I had to create my own language...) Or maybe Charley in Merrily We Roll Along .
Craziest audition experience:
For a Robert Altman movie, I danced with the wonderful Cynthia Nixon as we said words that
began with the letter "A." Yep.
Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap:
I pulled a Leslie Uggams and made up some ancient tongue during a line or two of a song
from Big River in '85. Still recovering.
Worst costume ever:
All of my costumes have been stunning, of course. But I did wear a football helmet in a
production of Julius Caesar once. An homage to their sporting culture. Perhaps a bit
Some favorite screen or commercial roles:
"Tanner '88" with Altman was a blast. We traveled around, following the presidential
campaign with a candidate of our own. Such fun.
Who have you played on "Law & Order"? What editions?
A doctor, a doctor, a priest, a lawyer and.. a candlestick maker. Kidding. All editions
but the short-lived LA version. They never should have left NY, yo!
What drew you to this current project?
I love the play. Period.
What research went into the role?
Reading, watching documentaries, going to my first boxing match!
Leading man role you've been dying to play:
I'm one of those that doesn't think that way. I love doing what's in front of me. And I've
been crazy lucky.
Something about you that surprises people:
That I can bench-press 400 pounds. Which would surprise me, too!
Something you are incredibly proud of:
Wow. I love watching my boys enjoy each other. But... I'm a little afraid of pride, to be
Something you're embarrassed to admit:
Um. See above...
Career you would want if not a performer:
So many! Cook/baker, lawyer, carpenter...
Three things you can't live without:
My sweet family, the pursuit of beauty, really good coffee.
"I'll never understand why…"
... people don't move into the middle of the subway car.