February 2015 “Actor Stealing the Spotlight” (ASS)

Hiya!  Welcome to a regular feature at TBO.  Every month we highlight an Actor who is currently Stealing the Spotlight (or, the ASS).  This is someone from our community who particularly stood out for their performance or body of work the previous month (obviously from the shows that we actually reviewed).  We think it’s fun to shine some light on those who continue to make the Baltimore theater scene just fucking great.

AND THE ASS FOR FEBRUARY 2015 GOES TO:

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DANIEL DOUEK

I’m always seeing Daniel Douek all over the place – he’s one of the hardest working actors around.  He’s always just fab, honestly, this is probably long overdue.  I absolutely adored him in last month’s I Hate Hamlet – he’s just always so fucking funny.  Here’s what I said about him in the review:

“Daniel Douek steps in as the slimy producer and there is just something about that man that tickles me to death.  He’s just always so delightfully off in the most enjoyable of ways.  The way he says:  “Shakespeare, right?  That’s like algebra for the stage!” simply killed me.”

I strong-armed Daniel into an interview, so here’s what he said.

Hi, Daniel.  What are you doing right now?

I’m in the office, I’m sorry to be late.  I’m an engineer and a project manager so things come up all the time.  Thank you for this.

Not a problem.  So, I’ve been listening to your beautiful accent for years now and something tells me you didn’t come by that growing up in Baltimore, hon. Give me a little of your back story – when did you come to town? How long have you been doing theater?

Oh, you mean before the witness protection?  I am from Argentina, I was born in Mar de Plata.  My family is from Italian and French decent.  I left Argentina in 1998, I lived in the U.S. for awhile and then in Mexico for a few years.  I started dating this American girl, she ended up being my second ex-wife.  She’s the mother of my son, my ten-year-old son.  I came to Baltimore in 2002 because she’s from here.  The accent is going to die with me, I think.

I keep seeing you pop up in these really interesting supporting characters. You were Father in Tales of Ordinary Madness (for which you earned a BULSHIT nom, of course), Lord Warwick in Edward II, the King of Spain in The Spanish Tragedy, and now sleazy L.A. lizard Peter Lefkowicz in I Hate Hamlet. Do you find that there’s more you can do with these “character” parts? Would you ever want to work a lead?

When I look for auditions, I look at the roles and at the place, I never pay attention to what theater, just the distance, if it’s too far away or something.  I like supporting roles because many times they are richer and more interesting.  I am definitely a character actor.  I did lead before, I was the lead in five plays and four musicals.  But you’re right, lately, I haven’t done any leads.  I auditioned for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, I’d love to get that, but I really do love playing supporting roles.

Of all of the parts you’ve had recently (you seem to work all the time) which one was your favorite and why?

I would say doing Tis’ Pity She’s A Whore by John Ford.  I did that with Rude Mechanicals, I don’t think you saw it.  It’s a story of betrayal and murder.  I played Vasques, who is a guy who controls everyone else’s life.  He’s kind of like Iago in Othello.  I loved that part.  He has no position in society, but he manages to control everyone else.

You’re part of a lot of different theater “families” in Baltimore. I see you at Fells Point Corner, Spotlighters, Mobtown, etc. etc. Is this preferable for some reason than sticking with one company?

You’re right, I am a promiscuous actor in that I work with many companies.  Many, many times I am the new kid on the block.  Like in Hamlet, everybody in that had worked together before.  So, yes.  Since 2007, I did 30 plays with 15 different companies.  What I like to do is put myself outside of the comfort zone, not just in theater, but in life in general.  It helps me to grow, to grow up.  I like working with different teams, different directors.  I see the plays from different eyes.  I really like fresh stuff.

You also made your directorial debut recently,right, with Picasso at the Lapin Agile over at Salem Players. Did you enjoy that experience?

Oh my God.  I got to tell you.  Like I told my girlfriend, it was an orgasm.  It was an orgasm of creativity that lasted for three months.  So you tell me if I enjoyed it.  Really, I always enjoy creating a character when I’m acting, so to be able to create 11 characters was an exponential pleasure activity.  And to design the stage and have a say in the lights and everything.  It was an avalanche of pleasure.  I never imagined I would be so happy.  I want to thank Salem Players and particularly my friend Tim Van Sant for that great opportunity.

Wow.  Are you planning to direct again?

Yes.  Yes.  Recently I directed two readings for the Baltimore Playwright’s Festival and I’m scheduled to direct my first musical, Man of La Mancha

Oh, that’s one of my favorite musicals!  It’s really hard, too, hardly anyone does it.

I’ll be doing that one in the spring of 2016 for Laurel Mills Playhouse.  It’ll be a challenge, it’s a small stage, but challenges are good.  Laurel Mills has put on amazing musicals before, like, for example, Ragtime in 2012.  Many thanks to Maureen Rogers for that opportunity.

Okay, let’s talk about Hamlet for a minute. I loved the show, of course I did, and one of the best parts about it, other than yourself, was Fred Nelson’s take on John Barrymore. Nelson, though, had played that part several times before – did you feel like the staging, etc, was kind of on autopilot or did it feel fresh?

I met Fred on the first read through.  It was like, hi, hi, everyone knows each other and then we start reading.  Every once in awhile he would very dramatically raise his eyes from the script and start saying the lines.  I thought “Wow, this guy is good, he already knows all these lines within a week of having the script?”.  Then I learned he had done it before.  But I tell you, he made it fresh every time.  Probably because the director [John Wakefield] was giving him new ways to do it, but he’s a great actor.  Every time you play with him it’s fresh.  Even during tech week.  I think he’s one of the best actors around.

Were you bummed you didn’t get to sword fight? This is the second play I’ve seen you in where there’s badass sword fighting and you didn’t get to play. Unfair.

I actually did get to sword fight in Tis Pity, but lately no one has put a sword in my hand.  There was a lot of blood in that show.  It was awesome.  Like a whole bucket of blood on the stage.

Oh, man, you know I love that.

I know.  Someone extracts a woman’s heart with a knife at a banquet.  It was awesome.

I’m sorry I missed that one!  

Yeah.  It’s a movie, too.

Sweet.  For some reason, one of your lines made me giggle for days on end. It was really the kind of thing where I couldn’t explain to anyone why your delivery was so funny – kind of had to be there I guess. It was “Shakespeare, right? That’s like algebra for the stage!” How do you actually feel about Shakespeare? Are you a fan? I warn you, he’s one of my followers on Twitter, so be careful how you answer.

I am a fan, yes.   The first time I was introduced to Shakespeare I was in Argentina, you know, as a kid.  I read Romeo and Juliet, but it was in Spanish.  In Argentina, they translate Shakespeare into old Spanish, like Cervantes, Quixote-style.  Then I learned English in high school, good enough to start reading, and I read Othello.  I was fascinated.  The characters are so complex.  There are no cowboys and Indians.  I’ve had a chance to play Shakespeare, I was in Comedy of Errors and I was also in Othello in 2011 at Mobtown.

Who is the best actor in Baltimore? You should know, you work errrrrywhere.

I really don’t know who would that be because many actors are doing great in community theater.  It’s hard to say, sometimes you’ll see an actor who is very good in some particular play but not that great in another play.  Frank Vince, you saw him in The Spanish Tragedy, he was Hieronimo.  I would say he’s one of the best.  We have a special relationship, we’ve worked together many times.  But again, there are many, many good actors.

Wanna talk some shit about anyone in the cast or crew and have it attached to your name forever on the internet?

Yes.  The cast and crew, they were lovely.  They were lovely to me and lovely to work with.  They included me.  But.  They did not get me a codpiece.  I was the only male, there were three males.  And I was the only male not wearing a codpiece.  So.

Anything you’ve been dying to say to the Baltimore theater scene? 

I would say to the stages: help each other.  Try to reduce costs by helping each other.  Be open to new blood.  That’s one of the reasons, you asked me why I work with so many companies, I think the more blood you have in your theater the better.  In these theaters, there are not resident companies and I think that’s beautiful.  New actors, new directors.  And to the community:  raise the bar.  Keep doing better and better.  Go and see theater.  Buy tickets.  Fifteen, twenty bucks.  It’s not the end of the world.  It’s amazing what you can see for fifteen bucks.

What’s coming up next for you?

Besides Man of La Mancha next Februrary, I was cast in The Rock Opera 6-Pack with the BROS (I’m playing the devil!) so that’ll be in late May, nine shows.  I’m also going to be in Dirty Blonde, which is a musical and the story of Mae West, at the Little Theatre of Alexandria in June.  I’m going to be wearing some drags.  Little by little, I’m going all the way.  I was in high heels and a dress in Tales of Ordinary Madness, this time I’m going to be in high heels, a dress and a wig.  The whole thing!

Got someone you’d like to nominate for next month’s ASS? E-mail me at emailthebadoracle@gmail.com.

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