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Palm Coast Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022 7 months ago

'Company' at the Playhouse: a character shift starring Danno Waddell

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Show dates: March 3-6 and 10-13, at the Flagler Playhouse in Bunnell.
by: Brian McMillan Contributing Writer

Updated Feb. 25

When former punk rock singer Danno Waddell was invited to audition for Bobby, the lead role in Flagler Playhouse’s upcoming musical, Stephen Sondheim’s “Company,” he decided he better get familiar with the soundtrack. He gravitated to one of the final songs, “Being Alive.”

“I fell in love with it,” Waddell recalled during a recent interview at the Playhouse, sitting across the table from Director Bob Pritchard. He hoped he would get to play Bobby, just so he could fill the next few weeks with singing “Being Alive.” “I had it on repeat for a while,” he said.

The song’s contradictions about love and marriage summarize the feeling of the rest of the play, Pritchard said. In the first half, Bobbie feels stifled by the idea that he would have “someone to hold you too close”; by the end, he wishes he had “somebody to hold me too close.”

“It is the character-shift song,” Waddell said.

“Company” will be the first musical performed at the Playhouse since “Mamma Mia! in 2019, according to President Jerri Berry. The most recent scheduled musical was “Guys and Dolls,” but rehearsals had to be canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.

"This season, the Playhouse opened with productions of smaller casts to test the waters to see if patrons would return with an ongoing pandemic, but also to see if actors would return to the stage," Berry said in an email to the Palm Coast Observer. "The production of 'Company' is a big deal for the Playhouse because of the size of its cast (nowhere near as large as that of prior musicals) but also due to the recent death of the great Stephen Sondheim. We are thrilled to be able to bring to theater lovers a Sondheim musical to honor his memory."

Pritchard agreed to direct a musical for the spring 2022 show, and his experience with “Company” made the show an appealing choice.

As director, Pritchard’s biggest challenge was having enough actors available. The waning impacts of the pandemic inspired many theaters to start new shows, so there was a lot of competition.

“Half my cast, when I started rehearsing, was in another show,” he said. “So the rehearsal process was a nightmare.”

Waddell has been in local shows at City Repertory Theatre in recent years, including “All in the Timing” and “Urinetown,” but not as the lead. Being the lead comes naturally in one way, since hew as the lead singer for a band in college called Nothing Ordinary. But, he said, “it’s been a bit of a challenge finding the singing voice again,” a voice that would feel right for musical theater.

Does he pull it off?

“I’m very pleased with the whole cast,” Pritchard said.

In the end, Pritchard believes the show is all about the music. The mark of success: if the audience is humming the tunes as they leave the theater.

 

The cast: Manon Stonecypher, Diane Neighmond, Laniece Fagundes, Kelly Rivera, Nick Rodrigues, Peter Gutierrez, Rich Lacey, Michele O’Neil, Danno Waddell, Andrew Trotter, Junine Johnson, Jen Chidekel, Ethan Fink, April Whaley.

 

Brian McMillan was editor of the Palm Coast Observer from 2010 to 2022. He was named the Journalist of the Year for weekly newspapers in North America by the Local Media Association in 2012. He lives in Palm Coast with his wife and five children....

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