BWW Interviews: 'Nashville's Own' Drummer Danny Young Takes on THE NUTTY FIVE


As the clock clicks and the calendar moves ever closer to the first night of previews for The Nutty Professor Musical, things are getting pretty serious down at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, where the cast and crew of the Broadway-bound musical have set up shop in preparation for their first out-of-town tryout.

Led by director Jerry Lewis, "the king of comedy" upon whose 1963 classic film comedy the musical is based, the show features a book by three-time Tony Award-winner Rupert Holmes (whose The Mystery of Edwin Drood will be revived on Broadway later this season with a star-studded cast that includes the legendary Chita Rivera) and with a score by Marvin Hamlisch, one of only two people to have earned a Tony, an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy and a Pulitzer Prize (Richard Rodgers is the other person to occupy some rarefied space).

JoAnn Hunter, who started her professional career at Nashville's late and lamented Opryland USA, provides the show's eye-popping choreography and Tony Award-winner David Gallo is designing the gorgeous sets (which rival his Tony-worthy designs for The Drowsy Chaperone) for the production, and Nashville's own Stephen Kummer will be in the pit, conducting the nine-member orchestra (which includes eight Nashvillians including Barry Green and Paul Carrol Binkley).

Members of the Metro Council haven't yet declared Nashville as "The City Where Nutty Musicals Are Born"-although we will continue our efforts to convince them to do so at least for the next five weeks while the company is still in town-so we will continue to be known all over the world as Music City USA. But we're a friendly bunch here, so we're delighted to welcome the mega-talented Nutty Professor company to our fair city and, since they're here now, we'll henceforth refer to them all as "Nashville's own…" (we know people, we can make this happen) and we're honestly happy they're now part of our local theater community. They add to our already rich ambience.

Suffice it to say, we feel even more welcoming after seeing the cast (they were absolutely amazing and were in perfect sync-even in a number they had learned only hours before) in action at TPAC's rehearsal hall  last week where they dazzled the assembled media types with their spirited performance of several of the show's best songs. Since there's no doubt that you'll be bumping into these newfound Music Citizens all over town in the next month, we think you need to get to know them better.

Last week we launched The Nutty Five as our way of welcoming all these talented people into our midst-even the ones who have Nashville connections, like today's star of the show Danny Young, who is the drummer for The Nutty Professor band (who may be just as jazzed up about his new drum set for the show as he is working with Jerry Lewis).


"I've been working with the cast since the start of rehearsals and have also been working with the dance composer and orchestrator writing the drum book for the show," he says. "It's a crazy process being in dance rehearsals writing the drum book."

"I grew up in a tiny, rural town of 500 called Viola, Wisconsin," says the energetic, enthusiastic and completely focused Mr. Young. "I studied percussion performance at Luther College [he's a 2007 graduate] and I have been living out of various makes and models of suitcases for the past five years. I'm currently based in Nashville, but have planned to my move to the Big Apple upon finishing The Nutty Professor."

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Jeffrey Ellis Jeffrey Ellis is a Nashville-based writer, editor and critic, who's been covering the performing arts in Tennessee for more than 25 years. He is the recipient of the Tennessee Theatre Association's Distinguished Service Award for his coverage of theatre in the Volunteer State and was the founding editor/publisher of Stages, the Tennessee Onstage Monthly. He is a past fellow of the National Critics Institute at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center and is the founder/executive producer of The First Night Honors, held during Labor Day Weekend, which honor oustanding theater artists in Tennessee in recognition of their lifetime achievements and includes The First Night Star Awards and the Most Promising Actors. Midwinter's First Night, held the first Sunday in January after New Year's Day, honors outstanding productions and performances throughout the state. Further, Ellis directed the Nashville premiere of La Cage Aux Folles, The Last Night of Ballyhoo and An American Daughter, as well as award-winning productions of Damn Yankees, Company, Gypsy and The Rocky Horror Show, with Ellis honored by The Tennessean as best director of a musical for both Company and Rocky Horror.

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