BWW Interviews: ROCK OF AGES' Dan Domenech Talks Being a 90s Grunge Kid and Bud Frump
New York, July 22, 2011 -- Similarity is attractive: Bryne's law of attraction points out that the attraction towards an individual (or a stage role) is positively related to the proportion of similar attitudes shared by two or more persons. It's no wonder smash Broadway musical Rock of Ages' new leading man, Dan Domenech (who shares similar attitudes toward his new stage role), has been having the time of his life since he made his Broadway debut five months ago -- playing the part of Drew, a rocker wannabe from Detroit.
"I really love singing the show's kind of music. It's loud and high. And I love singing loud and high. The thing that I also like about Drew is that he's a big nerd. In high school, I was a big nerd. When I grew up -- Oh yeah, I'm still a big nerd. I kind of relate to him at lot. Drew wanted to be a rock star. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a Broadway star. And it worked out," Domenech told BroadwayWorld.com in a recent interview held at the Helen Hayes Theatre.
Chris D'Arienzo writes the book and borrows classic rock hits from the '80s in the Tony Award-nominated musical Rock of Ages. The story follows the flimsy premise of boy meets girl (Domenech meets Rebecca Faulkenberry - who plays Sherrie) who are abruptly separated because of their Hollywood dreams. However, to see the cast breaking out into songs from the crazy '80s, for example, "We Built this City," "Cum On Feel the Noize," "Can't Fight this Feeling," and "Don't Stop Believing," which bring the house down at every performance, is absurdly fun.
Rock of Ages celebrates its first 1,000 performances on Broadway in the summer. It's on its way to the big screen -- in a big way too (Tom Cruise, Catherine Zeta Jones and Russell Brand lead the cast)
Although Puerto Rican stage actor Domenech is a self-confessed geek, he's not the type who would burn the midnight oil studying for the final exam for Calculus II. He'd rather free up his academic coursework and digress to back-to-back musical productions at the Cultural Arts Playhouse in Long Island, where he practically grew up.
"I got into theater when I was 11 or 12 years old. My course teacher at that time got me involved in it and I instantly fell in love with it -- became obsessed with it -- to the point where that was the only thing that I look forward to doing every year at school," he said. "As soon as I got out of high school, I started doing back-to-back shows. Well, I also tried to go back to school, but the thing is theater was the only thing that kept me focused."
Like some of the big names on Broadway today -- Adam Pascal, Idina Menzel et al. -- Domenech's first professional theater experience was in a national tour and an international tour of Rent. He was able to play the minor role of Paul, the character in charge of the life support group, and the major role of Angel Dumott Schunard, a young drag queen infected with AIDS, at some of the performances.
"My first professional theater audition was for Rent in 1999. It all started from there when I got cast in that show in 2001. I didn't have an agent then. I got audition notices through Backstage magazine," he recalled.
For the past five years, Domenech has been shuttling back and forth between assignments in New York and Los Angeles.
He pointed out, "My television and film credits come from choreography. And that was a whole another chapter I discovered in Los Angeles. I was working with choreographer Marguerite Derricks from Sister Act and Wonderland. And it was great to see a whole different kind of creative process and to see the different kinds of energy that were flowing around."
"I started as swing for Rock of Ages' first national tour. I played the role of Drew once." He recalled, "On my first month with the tour, we're all hanging out at this great little place across from the stage door in Boston. My stage manager walked up to me; and I looked up to him; and he looked down at me; and I said, 'Should I go home and go for my stuff?' And he said, 'Yeah.' The next day I went on. My director was there. The producers were there. The show went really great because the rehearsal process that we had before couldn't have been any more perfect."