At the time of the interview Daniel was appearing as part of the Ensemble in Love Never Dies at the Adelphi Theatre London.
Love Never Dies: From the Gothic surrounds of the Paris Opera House to the dazzling heights of New York’s Coney Island – the Phantom returns. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s spectacular new musical reunites the masked Phantom with his only true love and musical protégée, the stunning beauty Christine Daaé. Love Never Dies is a roller-coaster ride of intrigue, obsession and romance – where little is as it first appears.
Daniel was born in Albury Wodonga, New South Wales, Australia. He grew up in the state of Queensland and at the age of six his parents enrolled him into the Conroy Dance Centre in Brisbane.
He made his stage debut when he was ten as Young Sammy in The Jolson Story (Lyric Theatre, Brisbane).
At the age of 18, Daniel made his professional debut, working for six months as a dancer on a cruise ship, and thereafter returning to Australia to perform as Sportacus in Lazy Town Live at the Melbourne State Theatre and the Sydney Theatre Royal.
He subsequently made his UK debut alongside Barbara Windsor in Dick Whittington at the Bristol Hippodrome, before making his West End debut in Love Never Dies, February 2011.
Still in the early stages of his career, Daniel is a young star now, but a potential superstar of the future.
Daniel very kindly agreed to answer some questions that I put to him this week.
Was there anyone in particular who inspired you to dance and have a career on the stage?
When I watched Hot Shoe Shuffle and the Tap Dogs it inspired me to start dancing and aim for a career on the stage. I would also have to say my mum helped out a lot, as if it wasn’t for her driving me to my classes and eisteddfods I don’t think I would be where I am today.
Where did you study performing arts?
I studied a full-time dance course at the Conroy Performing Arts College. One of my favourite memories that meant a lot to me was choreographing my end of year solo to ‘Mr Bojangles’ that I got to perform in our end of year concert.
What memories do you have of your time at the Conroy Dance Centre?
I have many memories of my time at Conroy’s, but my favourite is that as the Dance School is in one of the hottest states in Australia, we always had a lot of water fights in our breaks!
Also, I received training from great teachers and some of the best choreographers from around Australia, to become the all-round dancer I am today.
Another recollection is that I got the chance to go to the USA with the Starz Production Team, which is one of Australia’s leading junior performance groups. We had to audition every year and with them I got to perform in Disney World Florida and outside the Lincoln Centre, as well as doing some amazing workshops with some of the best Broadway performers.
You made your stage debut at the age of ten, as Young Sammy in The Jolson Story, at the Lyric Theatre in Brisbane, what was that like?
I would have to say it is every kid’s dream to be on stage every night in a big musical that comes to town. I had that chance performing in Jolson alongside Rob Guest who is one of Australia’s best musical theatre actors. I made some great friends and good contacts, also it was always fun getting up to things backstage.
You made your professional debut as a dancer on board the cruise liner Pacific Princess. What was life like working as a dancer on board a ship for six months?
I had a great time and I got to see some amazing places that I never would have otherwise seen at a young age. I don’t think there is any other way in seeing the world than on a cruise ship doing something you love, in singing and dancing.
What was it like performing as Sportacus in the stage production of Lazy Town?
It was one of the best jobs I have ever done! To run out and hear the reaction from over 500 kids was so amazing. I think one of my favourite things with performing in the show was seeing all the kids dressing up as Sportacus and Stephanie. Also, it was fantastic meeting the producer and director of the TV show. It was great that he said that, apart from the UK cast, ours was the best he had seen. LazyTown is a show that if I was offered the job again I would definitely do it.
You made your UK debut in Dick Whittington alongside Barbara Windsor at the Bristol Hippodrome. What was it like working alongside such a prominent actress?
Dick Whittington was a brilliant laugh with lots of good memories and I ended up making some great new friends. Working alongside such an amazing actress as Barbara Windsor was something else. It was amazing watching and listening to the reaction of the audience when Barbara flew in after our opening dance, it was such a wonderful feeling to hear and see. What was also great was performing in the home town of my girlfriend and her family who I met on the cruise ship, having people I knew in the audience was such a terrific feeling.
You made your West End debut in Love Never Dies, what is it like working on the show?
It is fantastic working on Love Never Dies. It is my dream come true to perform in the West End and I am now here working in one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s biggest shows. It is also brilliant working with such an amazing cast and creative team. I have had lots of laughs already and I am looking forward to the rest of my contract with them.
If you could choose a character to perform in any play or musical, who would it be?
As I am a big fan of tap dancing and acrobatics I would love to play Cosmo Brown in Singin’ in the Rain.
Who would you most like to work alongside?
I would love to have worked alongside Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly and Sammy Davis Jnr. These are three people I look up to and aspire to be like.
Are there any long-term ambitions that you have either on the stage or off it?
I would have to say my long-term ambition at the moment, is to either be a lead in one of the biggest West End shows, or to choreograph a big musical that everyone would love to perform in that would also be a success on Broadway.
Who is your favourite actor? Who is your favourite actress?
I don’t really have a favourite actor or actress although I am a fan of quite a few.
Which is your favourite part of London that you like going to?
I think that would be St James’s Park, partly because it is near Buckingham Palace but also as it is a great place to relax. I enjoy watching all the tourists because I was one of them only a couple of years ago.
What is your favourite musical & film?
My favourite musical would be Avenue Q, as I am a big fan having seen it on Broadway, the West End and in Australia. I have too many films to have an all-time favourite, but from current films, it would have to be The Hangover and The Hangover Part 2.
Anything else you might like to add?
I would like to add a big thank you to my mum, my girlfriend and her family, as well as the Conroy Dance Centre, and all my friends here in the UK and back home in Australia, for all the support and friendship they have given me.
Training: Daniel began dancing when he was just six years old at the Conroy Dance Centre, Queensland, Australia, during which time he covered all styles of dance.
Theatre includes: his debut aged ten as Young Sammy in The Jolson Story (Lyric, Brisbane). At 18, Daniel made his professional debut travelling to the Mediterranean to perform on the Pacific Princess (Princess Cruise Line) as a dancer for six months. On returning to Australia, Daniel landed the role of Sportacus in the Australian production of Lazy Town Live (Melbourne State Theatre and Sydney Theatre Royal). Daniel made his UK debut in Dick Whittington alongside Barbara Windsor (Bristol Hippodrome).
Other work includes: working with some of Australia’s top choreographers in and around the corporate scene of Australia. Love Never Dies is Daniel’s West End debut.
Article editor Neil Cheesman – follow me on Twitter @LondonTheatre1
1st June 2011