Daniel C. Levine has theater in his veins. A veteran of the Broadway stage and Broadway national tours for over 15 years, Levine has starred in many iconic productions, including Les Misérables, Mamma Mia!, Chicago, Tommy and Jesus Christ Superstar.
Currently, Levine serves as artistic director for the Broadway and Cabaret Series at the Ridgefield Playhouse and is artistic director and co-founder of ACT of CT (A Contemporary Theater of Connecticut).
This month, Levine brings a rousing rendition of the highly-acclaimed Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat to the Ridgefield Playhouse on Feb. 24 and Feb. 25. The contemporary-sounding, family-friendly show will feature 20 Broadway performers, 35 young local performers, and be conducted by Bryan Perri, conductor and music director of Broadway’s Wicked. Levine offered insight into his career and new venture.
Pamela Brown: Being a former Broadway actor, how did you transition into directing/producing?
Daniel Levine: I’d always been very interested in directing (and producing) and I decided to work on my own productions. I created a show called Broadway Backstage and followed that up with Dancin’ Broadway and I really enjoyed the process. We tour these shows around the country and it’s been really fulfilling for me to watch an idea come to life. I was given the opportunity by Stephen Schwartz (composer of Wicked, Godspell and Pippin) to create and direct a very large production for Princess cruise lines. The show was called Born To Dance and that process was so eye opening and demanding that it almost felt like going to graduate school for theater.
PB: Having performed in productions of Joseph, does this show hold special meaning?
DL: It was one of the first shows that I saw when I was about 10 and it played a big part in my falling in love with theater. Revisiting the show after all of the years is thrilling.
PB: You’re in the midst of designing a new professional Equity Theater on the former Schlumberger property, opening in June. Why embark on this major project?
DL: We will be producing four shows per season (three musicals and one play) and we will be bringing Broadway stars to star in the shows. Shows will run for about a month at a time. We will also be casting local talent. My producing partner (Katie Diamond) and I realized there are not a lot of professional theaters in our area that present limited run engagement shows. When we learned about the Schlumberger property [in Ridgefield], we envisioned this could be an amazing venue for our theater company.
PB: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat has seen numerous revivals, national tours, and a movie. How are you making this production your own?
DL: This version is going to feel like a hybrid between a fully-staged production and a rock concert. Looking at our company of Broadway talent, the cast has appeared (collectively) in over 30 Broadway shows. The talent is off the charts!
PB: The musical is based on the biblical story of Joseph. How does his story resonate with audiences today?
DL: The story is about redemption and forgiveness. It’s very relevant. It’s a very sweet story and one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s best scores. It’s a story of a very complicated family and sibling rivalry. It’s a story about a boy who overcomes adversity and rises to power — and ultimately forgives those who have harmed him. We are transformed and mesmerized by these “biblical” characters that feel totally relevant and current.
PB: How are you adjusting the show for the Ridgefield Playhouse, a more intimate setting?
DL: I love the feel of the Playhouse. You have to be very creative when directing and presenting large musicals like this, but we’ve come up with some pretty awesome ways around that including adding a video element to the show. It’s going to be incredible.