BWW Interviews: AMERICAN IDIOT Touring Actor Dan Tracy Shares Experiences of Playing Tunny
A critical smash on Broadway and in London, the two-time Tony Award® winning hit musical AMERICAN IDIOT tells the story of three lifelong friends, forced to choose between their dreams and the safety of suburbia. Their quest for true meaning in a post 9/11 world leads them on the most exhilarating theatrical journey of the season. Based on Green Day's GRAMMY® Award-winning multi-platinum album, AMERICAN IDIOT boldly takes the American musical where it's never gone before. As the shows tours throughout North America, Broadway World caught up with actor Dan Tracy who plays the role of Tunny in his award winning show. Dan shared with me his experiences and his feelings of being a part of this award-winning show.
Tell us a little bit about your experience in college and some of the shows you were in.
In the spring, I just graduated from the University of Michigan. I studied in their musical theater program there and received a bachelor's in Fine Arts. It was a really great experience. I loved going to school in Michigan even though it was a little too cold for me. When I was there I did a few plays some student run and some main stage. My favorite was a play called, "Our Country's Good" which is a play from the 80's. I also was able to dance in the ensemble of "Chicago" and I played a leading role in "Little Women" directed by one of our alums who was actually in the original company on Broadway so that was a really awesome experience. I loved my time in Michigan and it was a great school.
How did you get started performing?
When I was a little kid, I was the person in church who sang too loud at mass so my mom put me in the children's choir when I was in first grade; basically as soon as you could read you could be in the children's choir. So, I did that and through that I got my first performance opportunity which was in a little sit down production of a one man show written by John Lithgow and that was a really cool experience. It was at this big theater where I'm from in Providence, Rhode Island and from there my parents just saw that it really excited me and I was super into it so I started doing more serious work in middle school and then did all the shows in my high school in Providence and then decided to study it in college. I always felt passionate about it and wanted to be where I am now and it's great to be here.
When did you start with AMERICAN IDIOT?
I just joined the company in August. It was a long casting process that started pretty much right after my senior showcase in May. I got the appointment from the senior showcase and from there had my initial appointment and I went on to do summer jobs and then callbacks and we started rehearsals early in September. We rehearsed for 2 weeks then we went onto Vegas and did some previews in Vegas and teched our new production there. People were returning who were in last year but I think there's only 5 of them left of the 16; the other people, they're all new company members and I'm one of them.
What interested you in auditioning for AMERICAN IDIOT?
I was always a Green Day fan. When I was in middle school, one of the first CDs I ever bought and learned all the way through. As somebody who grew up in the post 9/11 - being so young when it happened - really, this album just kind of spoke to me even though I have a very supportive family and I grew up in a very different situation than the characters in this show. It still felt like it resonated with me. From then I've really always had it in my sights and I was fortunate enough to see it on Broadway right before it closed. It was really just something different. I've seen a lot of shows and it's in its own world the way the ensemble thrives. The story is told so effectively and powerfully. It's an amazing show and it's awesome to be a part of it. People (should) come to our show with an open mind and an open heart and willing to listen to the story because I think it's really beautiful and it may come across as violent or angry but it's also equally as joyful and it's as much about love as it is about rage. We are excited to be in Texas. I can't wait.
What have you learned by playing the role of Tunny?
I found a lot of different aspects of my life to reach into this place. It's very difficult to understand what it's like to go to a war and to fight and right now, it's a very difficult climate in the Middle East and that is something that my character has to do through something really difficult but I found a lot of interesting documentaries Restrepo and American History X and it's been really interesting to try and find what this hardcore cultural life in Oakland and then translate that to somebody who drops everything and goes off to fight in the war and eventually my character has a really tragic event happens while he's over there and then discovering what that might be like for me even though it's not happening. It really taught me a lot about how to understand the blessings that I have and to be happier every single day.