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.
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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