BWW Interview: Danny Campos and Donald Andrew Danford in BABES IN TOYLAND at The Growing Stage

BWW Interview:  Danny Campos and Donald Andrew Danford in BABES IN TOYLAND at The Growing Stage

The Growing Stage, The Children's Theatre of New Jersey kicks off the holiday season with its original musical production of Babes in Toyland from November 23 to December 16. The production is adapted from the popular 1934 MGM classic that featured the famed comedy team Laurel and Hardy and was originally inspired by the Victor Hugo operetta of the same name. The Growing Stage's show was conceived by the company's Founder and Executive Director, Stephen L. Fredericks. Their Artist-in-Residence, Perry Arthur Kroeger wrote the adaptation and song lyrics that are set to Victor Hugo's music. The show is directed by The Growing Stage's Director of Educational Programming, Lori B. Lawrence, with musical direction by Stephen Fox, and choreography by Jillian Petrie.

In Babes in Toyland, something is amiss in the Land of Make Believe. Barnaby is threatening Mother Goose with eviction unless her daughter, Bo Peep, marries him. One of the Three Little Pigs is missing and on top of that, even Christmas is in doubt. Who could possibly save the day? Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum?

Babes in Toyland features the talents of four professional equity performers in the cast. Returning to the Palace are Growing Stage favorites Danny Campos as Tweedle Dee; Donald Andrew Danford as Tweedle Dum; David Spellman as Barnaby; and making her Growing Stage debut is Sarah Daniels. Rounding out the cast are 26 performers, adults and youth from across the tri-state area. had the pleasure of interviewing Danny Campos who plays Tweedle Dee and Donald Danford who plays Tweedle Dum about their roles in the upcoming production.

Danny Campos is excited to return to Toyland, as this is his 3rd time portraying the role of Tweedle Dee. Some other Growing Stage credits include: The Wizard of OZ (Cowardly Lion), Frosty (Frosty), A Christmas Carol (Mr. Fezziwig) and The Neverending Story (Falkor). When Danny's not on stage, you can find him behind the scenes as a Director (last directing the world premiere of Boy Sees Flying Saucer), TGS Teaching Artist and the Director of the New Play-Reading Festival. Danny has a Master's in Educational Theatre from New York University and a Bachelors in Theatre/Music from Albright College. He's also studied at the Eugene O'Neill National Theatre Institute and the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. Danny's a proud member of Actor's Equity Association.

Donald Danford is thrilled to be working with The Growing Stage again! Recent credits with The Growing Stage include, Boy Sees Flying Saucer (Frank) Beauty And The Beast (Lefou), The Cat In The Hat (Fish), and The Neverending Story (Engywook/Night Hob). Other credits include Mary Poppins (Robertson Ay) with Centenary Stage Company, Start Down (Matty) with Centenary Stage Company,The Norwegians (Tor) with Alliance Rep, The Lion In Winter (John) with 12 Miles West. He also had the pleasure of working with the Monomoy Theatre in Chatham Massachusetts. Some of his rolls included Stanley in Brighton Beach Memoirs, Billing in An Enemy of The People, Professor in South Pacific, Valentine in Twelfth Night, Sandy in The Man Who Came To Dinner, and the Haberdasher in Kiss Me Kate. In 2014 he received his B.F.A in Theatre Performance from Ohio University. Donald is a proud member of Actors Equity Association.

How does it feel to be performing again at The Growing Stage?

Donald: Performing with TGS is one of the best experiences an actor can have. The audiences are younger, so they're more responsive and have just as much fun in their seats as the actors have on stage.

Danny: It feels wonderful! Since my "day job" is Audience Development Director at The Growing Stage, I don't always get to perform, so when the opportunity presents itself I always jump at it because acting will always be my 1st passion and getting to do it at The Growing Stage with professionals who I respect and admire is icing on a cake.

Why do you think children's theatre is so essential for young people?

I think almost every actor remembers a piece of theatre they saw when they were young that still sticks with them today. Maybe it was a show that had a lot of spectacle, or something that required a lot of thought. Either way the theatre is a place for you to dream and think. That's why theatre is important for everyone, not just young people.

Danny: I think if we want the arts to thrive and essentially survive, we need to introduce young audiences to theatre. The theatre-goers of the future are the young audiences who come to children's theatre. I also think children's theatre provides a young person the opportunity to go on a journey with a story or an character that they're just not going to get from film or television (or a video game for that matter). Children's Theatre also provides an opportunity for families to connect and interact-I just love watching The Growing Stage audiences leave our theatre after seeing performance talking about the show. "What did you think?" "What's the message of the story?" It's a great way to start a conversation and memory maker for you and your child. At The Growing Stage we always say, we're looking to creating not just a moment, but a lasting memory in the theatre and that happens with children's theatre.

Tell us a little about your role in the show.

Donald: I play Tweedle Dum, and the script we're using is almost identical to the Laurel and Hardy version. The role is a lot of fun to play, especially when you have Danny Campos by your side causing trouble!

Danny: I play Tweedle Dee, a role made famous by Oliver Hardy. This is actually my 3rd time playing the character and I just love him. He's funny, over the top, tends to be the "brains" of the operation, but also an all around great guy. As an actor, I always cherish the opportunity to be able to do lots of physical comedy and that's something you're going to get to see in this show and in particular with Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum (played brilliantly by my scene partner Donald Danford)

Why is Babes in Toyland so special for this holiday season?

Donald: Babes in Toyland is a classic that the entire family can enjoy. Many parents will remember watching the film as a child, and relive happy memories as their children make their own.

Danny: It has something for everyone-the kids will love the physical humor, the nursery rhyme characters that their parents read to them and I think the adults will get lots of the great jokes plus get to relive the famous film, March of the Wooden Soldiers, brought to life on our stage.

The Growing Stage has become known for spectacular productions. What would you like people who have not been to the theatre to know about the company?

Donald: It's a beautiful theatre that produces productions of well-known and well-loved stories.

Danny: Well, for starters, The Growing Stage is the ONLY Professional Theatre with its OWN facility devoted to young audiences and their families. That's huge and makes our home, the Historic Palace Theatre extra special in our great state of New Jersey. Also, we respect our audiences-we treat children as adults and we hope adults can go back to that time of "Once Upon a Time" when they were children. If you haven't been to the theatre OR you're looking to bring your child to their very first show, The Growing Stage - The Children's Theatre of New Jersey is the right place to start!

Tell us a little about your future plans.

Donald: I love NJ, and NJ theatre. I plan on staying in the state for a long time and continue to pursue acting jobs with my wife!

Danny: In addition to my work as an actor and Audience Development Director at The Growing Stage, I'm one of the theatre's Teaching Artists, teaching grades Pre-K through High School PLUS I'm going to be directing our next musical at The Growing Stage, CURIOUS GEORGE AND THE GOLDEN MEATBALL.

You can follow Danny Campos at @onstage82 and my dog @FelixtheDog529 and Follow The Growing Stage: @thegrowingstage on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter.

Babes in Toyland runs from November 23 through December 16 at The Growing Stage, located at 7 Ledgewood Ave, Netcong, NJ 07857. Performances are Saturday and Sunday matinees at 4:00 PM and a special Opening Night Performance, November 23rd at 7:30PM followed by a post-show reception. Ticket prices are $28 for adults, $22 for seniors and $18 for children. To purchase tickets, please visit or call (973) 347-4946. Group rates and Season Membership Plans are still available.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Danny Campos and Donald Andrew Danforth

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