And the Tony Nominees Are…


Daniel Kluger, Tony Award Nominee, “Oklahoma!”

In this episode of “And the Tony Nominees Are…” Daniel Kluger, 2019 Tony Award Nominee, Best Orchestrations for his work on “Oklahoma!” shares how he’s haunted by Richard Rodgers and talks about his middle school band, being a show tune nerd, catching the musical theater bug while playing Young Patrick in “Mame” and the importance of coming together as a group.

AIRED: May 31, 2019 | 0:04:22

It would be hard to overstate

the degree to which I'm haunted by Richard Rogers

through these songs.



My name is Daniel Kluger.

I'm nominated for Orchestrations for "Oklahoma!"

I'm extremely grateful to my parents,

in particular my mother for the unthinkable amount of energy

they put into making me sit at the piano and practice

when I probably wanted to do something else.

My father worked for the New York Philharmonic.

When I was 1 year old, we moved to a suburb of Philadelphia,

and I grew up there.

I had this early memory of...

waiting around in my dad's office

while he was working during a concert,

and he had one of those old, closed-circuit monitor TVs

playing the concert at like a really low level.

That's how I heard a lot of classical music --

through that little speaker.

My child self was a big nerd about show tunes, so...

[ Chuckles ]

But he was learning the songs from a Real Book,

playing jazz versions of them.

A couple of friends from middle school

started a band and I played guitar and drums.

Nirvana -- Those guys are amazing.

[ Chuckles ]

Anyway, I think I got all that out of my system,

although I still would like to be in a rock band.

We had a household where there was all kinds of music

playing all the time.

So, we were going to the orchestra,

we had orchestra recordings playing all the time,

we also loved James Taylor and Billy Joel,

and I was playing jazz,

learning songs that I had never heard before from a Real Book.

I was a chorus boy in "Oliver"

and I played young Patrick in "Auntie Mame"

in the community theater,

and so I think I absorbed some of the culture of it,

fell into it I think before it was a huge --

before it was a choice --

and then did high school theater,

and I wanted to pursue music seriously and played jazz piano.

I got a job as an accompanist

for actors taking singing lessons,

and it's a very deep, meditative practice

about figuring out how to be a musician

in support of what someone's doing dramatically.

I caught the bug of being around actors,

and then I figured out, I think,

that I could make a living providing music for drama.

The collaborative space of theater

is one of the best things about it.

I didn't become a performing musician

because I couldn't stand to spend that much time alone.

We live in a pretty solipsistic culture

that is totally focused on individuals,

and the theater is one of the places

that celebrates what a group of people can do,

and I think it's important not to lose track of that.

Yeah, I'm extremely excited,

and I'm excited for myself but for the production

and for the material to get another look.

These songs are really important to musical theater culture,

but I think that our approach to this production

is reaching outside the usual musical theater culture

in a way that could have a really beneficial impact

on other kinds of cross-pollination

in the theater and different collaborative models

of approaching classic works in a different way.





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