THE LEADING MEN: Danny Burstein Digs Into a Group Theatre Classic, Golden Boy

By Mervyn Rothstein
05 Dec 2012

Seth Numrich and Burstein in Golden Boy.
Photo by Paul Kolnik
Tell me a little bit about yourself — where you were born, grew up, how you got interested in theatre, and how you made it to Broadway.
DB: I was born in Mount Kisco, NY — we were living in the Bronx, but that's where I decided to come out. My parents were divorcing when I was born, and by the time I was two months old they had split. My mom raised me alone until I was about six. She was Costa Rican, so Spanish is my first language. Then my stepfather, Harvey Burstein, came along and basically changed my life. He was a writer and philosophy professor, and he got me interested in plays and reading books, and that started me off.

He gave me many plays. It was very funny — I was like an eight-year-old kid reading Ibsen, reading The Wild Duck. I loved it. I understood the dramatic form. It spoke to me, to my heart, more than any other form of writing.

When I was 13 I was lucky enough to audition for the High School of Performing Arts. Over 4,000 kids auditioned that year, and 128 made it in. So from ages 14 to 18 I was at that high school, [which was then] on West 46th Street right in the middle of the theatre district, and it changed my life. All of a sudden, from loving plays, I had this idea that maybe I could be an actor and actually make a living at it.

I got my bachelor's degree from Queens College, where I studied with a fellow named Ed Greenberg, another person who was very important and changed my life. He ran the St. Louis Muny [theatre], which [calls itself] the largest outdoor theatre in the country, and he gave me my Equity card when I was 19. I started doing musicals out there. All the time I'd been doing community theatre and things like that, trying to make it as an actor.

I always worked. I was never lacking for work. But I hadn't made an impression on the people in the business yet. Finally, that came along really in The Drowsy Chaperone, when I played Aldolpho. That show really changed my life.

Is there anything on the horizon for you after Golden Boy?
DB: Another play. I'll be doing double duty starting Jan. 8. I'm doing Roundabout's revival of Lanford Wilson's Talley's Folly, with Sarah Paulson. Jan. 8 is when rehearsals begin. Golden Boy is scheduled to run until Jan. 20, and Talley's Folly's previews start on Feb. 8. [It opens March 5 at the Roundabout Theatre Company's Laura Pels Theatre, Off-Broadway.]

Read the Playbill magazine feature about young actor Seth Numrich, who plays the title character in Golden Boy.