DE - Yes. I loved it. It was a whole year since the show had been running and I was sitting in the stairwell in the upper balcony. I was like ... WOW!
EF - Were you critical of it and the guy who understudied your part?
DE - I was absorbed. I had never seen or heard it from an audience perspective. I wanted to feel it, not critique it. The show works. I was so moved. I think one reason people identify with the show is not just the people who were on board that lost their lives but that it could have been anyone on the ship and to die like that ...
EF - Funny, Brian (d'Arcy James) said the same thing. He told me he saw it after he left and that it was the best theatrical experience for him.
For someone who is not familiar with the person you portray in Titanic, who is Frederick Fleet?
DE - I don't know all the specifics about his background. I know he was 25 and was the second lookout. He was ostracized during the trials after the sinking for bringing up the fact the binoculars were missing. There were three on the bridge. There was no light to see anything by and he was upset by that. He and his wife lived reclusively. After she passed away, he killed himself.
EF - You make quite an entrance in the crows nest. It certainly captivates people. What are you thinking as you are descending?
DE - It is neat to know it has an impact theatrically. It is so dark, it is like being in a void. There is only the light beneath me. Until my eyes adjust, I'm staring into complete blankness. I'm straining to hear the music especially with that hat on. The wool coat makes it very hot. There is a little fan that blows air on my face because it is so stifling. When I clear the edge of the ceiling, there is a kind of a rush. Then I try to create the mood with the song.
EF - You know that the song "No Moon" is popular.
DE - Really?!
EF - Yeah, a friend of mine, Jonathan Frank, just released a CD and that was one of the songs on it.
DE - I would love to hear that and what he did with it. That is so cool! It is a beautiful melody.
EF - You have a little dance sequence in the show.
DE - Yeah, the Ragtime dance. I actually had a rough haul getting seen for this show. My agent tried to get me in several times. People had seen me dance a lot and it is hard to change people's perception about how this guy is a great dancer, but can he sing? It is more like a doubt thing even though I had done Joe Hardy. Lynne Taylor-Corbett, who choreographed that Ragtime number, worked with me previously and convinced them to see me. I sang "No Moon." They liked that and the fact that I could dance.
EF - What is it that makes this cast, in particular, so cohesive?
DE - Everybody feels important. I've seen dancers or the ensemble get disenchanted because they don't feel important. They don't feel their contributions are important to the show. This group of people are the most dedicated, true artists in their craft that I've ever met. They are very accepting.
EF - How would you compare the movie to the show? What did you think of the movie?
DE - Visually it was stunning. I liked it a lot. I was very entertained. I didn't get emotional though. It wasn't a dislike of the movie. I guess I just didn't buy into part of the story being fictional. I think that was hard. There were many important people on board that became secondary in the movie.
EF - Tell us about the next project you will be involved in?
DE - Well, it is called Fascinating Rhythm. It is a cast of ten people. There are five principals and five dancers. It is all Gershwin music done in a very contemporary style. It is like Saturn Returns meets Rent. There isn't any real dialogue. There are little snippets or vignettes. It is very exciting. I haven't seen Smokey Joe's but people have compared this to that show except that obviously the music is different. It starts in Tucson on December 8 and plays through the end of the year. It then goes to Phoenix until January 25. Right now there is a tentative tour with hopes of bringing it to Broadway.
EF - You mentioned you are an actor, singer, dancer. What order would you put them in?
DE - It is hard to grade them. What I personally love doing is singing. That is a passion. Whether I'm the best at it, I don't know. Some people might say I'm a better dancer. It was great to incorporate them when I did Strike Up the Band. It was a dream come true and a great experience for me. In most shows there is an emphasis on either singing or dancing. Strike Up the Band had both.
EF - I saw you in a tape of Broadway Bares. The dance sequence you were involved in with the two other people was just superb. One of the best I saw. Did you choreograph that yourself?
DE - It was with Artie and Pascale. It was called Adam, Eve and Steve. Artie came from that background of ballroom and hustle. He just has a vocabulary of those lifts we did. The three of us had worked together before and we met and discussed different ways to do this. We are a tight knit little group. She lives in our building and is a dear friend of ours. You know in the number she was totally topless. She had her chest painted?
EF - Get out of here. I did not know that.
DE - She has a beautiful body. That guy to guy dance we did was great as well. It is all real because we feel that way about each other.
EF - How would you define success in terms of being an actor?
DE - I would just say whatever job you are doing should be rewarding for you. You should feel passionate about it. Once you've lost that spark and desire, then you can't be successful at it.
EF - You are successful. How does it feel to be in the limelight knowing there are people waiting to talk to you outside the stage door and asking for your autograph?
DE - I feel completely honored. Honored that somebody is touched enough by my performance to want that for themselves. It just validates that I'm doing the right thing.
EF - What advice would you give people who want to enter this business?
DE - Just to know what they are getting into. Know there are dark times and all the money you may have made with a job starts to disappear so fast. The advice would be to study and hone every skill you can.
EF - What is your message to your fans?
DE - Thank you! I'm so appreciative and thankful that people like what I do. I can't even say the right words on how that makes me feel. It is very rewarding. I'm humbled by it. I couldn't be more grateful. I like to know that I touched somebody. I do it because I love it. Anything else that comes because of that is like dessert. I feel so lucky.
Maybe it's his smile. It could be the inflection of his voice or perhaps his sense of humor. Whatever it is, it makes for a special connection to others. I can't help but think that this connection translates onto the stage. David's passion, steadfast determination, and quality work ethic nourish that connection and the positive impact his performance has on audiences. David mentions luck played a part in his pursuits. I say it is because he is a visionary. He sets goals for himself and through hard work and his given talents, accomplishes these goals. Where does it lead him? With the admiration of many who are touched by his performances. With the validation that he is indeed doing the right thing.