PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: Potted Potter Star Daniel Clarkson
By Matthew Blank
July 2, 2013
Daniel Clarkson, one of the stars of Potted Potter at Off-Broadway's Little Shubert Theatre, fills out Playbill.com's questionnaire of random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.
Clarkson is best known for being one-half of the double act "Dan and Jeff," creators of both Potted Potter and Potted Pirates.
He has appeared onstage in Accidental Death of and Anarchist, Little Shop of Horrors, Art and Sketch Machine.
TV credits include "Big Brother's Little Brother," "Where The Heart Is," "Coronation Street" and "Emmerdale."
Full given name:
Daniel Taylor Clarkson
Where you were born/where you were raised:
Queen Charlotte's Hospital in Hammersmith, London. Raised just outside London in the county of Buckinghamshire in a tiny town called Little Chalfont, with a three year stint in Hong Kong.
What your parents did/do for a living:
My dad was once a performer but gave it up to get a real job so he could raise a family. Hard to explain what he does now so I just tell people he's a secret agent!
My mum is the cleverest person I know. She speaks several different languages and has a brain faster than any calculator, but she took on the hardest job ever: raising me.
She did actually just get awarded an MBE (an honour) from the Queen for her work in charity. (Not for raising me, although that would have been well deserved).
Two younger brothers, Sam and Tom, and a younger sister, Amy.
Current audition song/monologue:
Launce's speech from Two Gentlemen of Verona where he talks about his little dog Crab.
After doing a job in Lapland for four months I now actually have my skidoo (snowmobile) license! Not had to use it in Manhattan yet, but you never know.
Something you're REALLY bad at:
Throwing a frisbee. I just can't do it. I can throw really well, I can catch but for some reason add a frisbee to the equation and it just becomes embarrassing!
First Broadway/West End show you ever saw:
Barnum at the London Palladium with Michael Crawford. I was about 10 and found the whole experience amazing.
If you could go back in time and catch any Broadway show, what would it be?
Would had loved to have watched an original Shakespeare production at the Globe in London. Imagine being there for the first ever showing of Romeo and Juliet. Although if I could go back in time I'd probably get all Shakespeare's work, go back further and take full credit for them.
Current or recent shows you recommended to friends:
Peter and the Starcatcher. I was lucky enough to catch this last summer. Was truly amazing, one of the greatest pieces of storytelling I've ever seen.
Some favorite modern plays:
Rhinoceros, Noises Off, The Room, Black Comedy
Some favorite modern playwrights:
Dario Fo, Harold Pinter, Michael Frayn, Eugene Ionesco
Broadway or screen stars of the past you would most have loved to perform with:
Audrey Hepburn, she was just perfect wasn't she? We would have worked together, she'd have fallen madly in love with me and we would have married and become the greatest Hollywood couple. I've taken the fantasy too far haven't I...
The one performance – attended - that you will never forget:
First show I ever saw on Broadway was Les Miserables. It was my first time in New York and the whole experience was indescribable, the closest I think life gets to actual magic.
Music that makes you cry, any genre:
One song that still to this day makes me well up is "Somewhere Out There" from "American Tail." No idea why but it gets me every time. In fact wouldn't "American Tail" make a great Broadway show? You heard it here first!
Reddit.com and Twitter- @Daniel_Veronica, follow me! My life goal is to get more followers than Justin Bieber.
Last book you read:
"The Fall of Giants" by Ken Follet. The first book of the Century trilogy - I picked it up at the airport in Detroit and couldn't put it down.
Must-see TV show(s):
At the moment I'm all about "Game of Thrones" and "Doctor Who." I am such a geek.
Last good movie you saw:
"The Gangster Squad." Saw it on the plane over. Ryan Gosling... can that man do any wrong?
Some films you consider classics:
The original Star Wars trilogy obviously, Charlie Chaplin's "The Kid" and I still think "Life is Beautiful" is one of the most exquisite films of all time. Never a dry eye when I watch it.
Performer you would drop everything to go see:
Robin Williams. To see him perform some of his stand up live would be amazing.
Pop culture guilty pleasure:
I'm a huge fan of The Killers.
Three favorite cities:
London, New York, Bruges
Tottenham Hotspur. They're a soccer team based in North London. Not the best team but I've stood buy them since I was six.
First CD/Tape/LP you owned:
I think (and I hold my head in shame), it was "Do the Bartman" by Bart Simpson on LP.
What are some of your most memorable roles as a kid or teenager and how old were you?
I remember playing the Donkey in the school nativity when I was five and coming home crying to my mum as I was afraid Mary was going to sit on me and she was a lot older and bigger. First professional job was playing John in Peter Pan. I got to fly and everything!
First stage kiss:
When I was seven playing Prince Charming in a school production of Snow White. This part had nothing to do with my natural good looks, more that I was the tallest kid in the class so I couldn't be a dwarf.
Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living:
The day my dad told me you could actually get paid for acting. I remember being quite young, already enjoying being on the stage and just finding it unbelievable that people would pay me to dress up and mess around with my friends. I still find it unbelievable now!
Favorite pre-/post- show meal:
Currently love going to the Amish Market on 9th and 49th. They do an amazing salmon filet and have one of my favourite salad bars!
Favorite liquid refreshment:
Hot water with honey and lemon (and sometimes a spot of single malt whiskey purely for medicinal purposes).
Pre-show rituals or warm-ups:
Annoy Jeff, remind our theatre manager Joe that I'm Batman in case he has forgotten, and play Star Wars Angry Birds on my phone. Real professional stuff!
Most challenging role you have ever played:
The Maniac in Accidental Death of an Anarchist. The most challenging role but probably the most fun I've ever had on stage.
What has been the biggest challenge about this project?
Some of the darker moments from the book - like Harry's first encounter with Voldemort in book four - were definitely challenging, as were trying to find a more comedic and accessible approach in keeping with the parody style of the show.
What has been the most fun or fulfilling aspect?
Definitely the Qudditch match we play with the whole audience. This is always my favourite part of the show, as you never know what's going to happen and lets us flex our improvisational skills!
Favorite Potter book:
Book 5, "The Order of the Phoenix"
Four favorite characters in the entire series:
Gildroy Lockhart. I think he's a great character and as much as it pains me to say probably the wizard I'd end up being.
Dobby the house elf. Yes I cried in book seven and I'm man enough to admit it.
Severus Snape. Thought Alan Rickman nailed him in the films, my interpretation isn't bad either.
Colin Creevy. I feel sorry for him, the character is pure cannon fodder so I'm giving him a shout out.
Do you have a favorite moment or character for yourself in Potted Potter?
I love playing Voldemort, I just feel he's very misunderstood! He's considered the greatest dark wizard of all time, the most powerful dark lord yet he keeps on being beaten by an 11-year-old school boy. That can't be good for your ego.
Have any Potter movie cast members come to see the show, and what was their response?
Warwick Davis, who plays Professor Flitwick, came to see the show with his family. When we asked what he thought of his character in the show, he shouted back that I was too tall, which was fair enough!
Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap:
I remember doing the show in Edinburgh, the stage was quite wet and I slipped and went to a 180 degree angle and face planted the floor. It was during book five and I was playing Sirus Black so I'm sure there was some irony there.
Worst job you ever had:
Playing an eight-foot-tall garden gnome for a street festival in Covent Garden. I spent the days in a suit I couldn't see out of, being jumped on by kids and having ice cream stuffed in places ice cream should never see.
Leading man role you've been dying to play:
Black Stache in Peter and the Starcatcher. If ever we are fortunate enough to have it come to London I will be standing by and ready!
Leading lady role you'd like a shot at:
Can I say Miss Trunchbull in Matilda? Or is that cheating?
Something about you that surprises people:
That I have Jeff's face tattooed on my stomach. And that I'm a liar.
Career you would want if not a performer:
Have a real fascination with history so would have loved to go into archaeology, and have a fedora hat, and a whip. In fact I just want to be Indiana Jones.
Three things you can't live without:
My family, my friends and my rubber duck that looks like William Shakespeare which travels everywhere with me.
"I'll never understand why…"
… people in New York can ever say they're bored. I think you could live three lifetimes and still not have enough time to see and do everything this amazing city has to offer.
Words of advice for aspiring performers:
Don't give up and you'll be able to be part of the most amazing industry in the world. The path can be really tough but it is a reward like no other when you get there.