3 years ago

February Issue - Stage Directions Magazine

February Issue - Stage Directions Magazine

Feature By Kevin M.

Feature By Kevin M. Mitchell | Dennis DeYoung Wags Into Theatre Styx’s co-founder, composer of “Lady” and “Come Sail Away,” teaches himself new tricks for 101 Dalmatians musical The canine cast of 101 Dalmatians are featured at times, but are not treated as a circus act, acting like, well, like normal dogs. When rock singer and cofounder of the hit generating band Styx, Dennis DeYoung, was asked to be in a musical by producer Danny Goldberg, he had just one reaction: “I told him he should empty his bong water.” Thus began an unexpected journey from arena rock to musical theatre for DeYoung that culminates in the current touring production of The 101 Dalmatians Musical. It started in 1993, when he and his wife, Suzanne, flew to L.A. to attend a wedding. There he met Goldberg, who was the mounting the 25 th anniversary production of Jesus Christ Superstar. “He asked Dennis DeYoung in concert me to play Pontius Pilate out of the clear blue,” DeYoung recalls, still seemingly stunned by the idea. Despites the many ways DeYoung said no, Goldberg was undeterred and eventually talked him into going to New York, which he did. So on a lark, he found himself performing eight times a week in a demanding role to great reviews. His takeaway? “I should write one of these things.” Bridging Two Worlds DeYoung’s youth was relatively theatre-free. “I played an accordion in bands, and we would play excerpts from My Fair Lady, but that’s about it,” he recalls. “My number one desire was to be the Beatles.” Through the many hit songs and best-selling albums Styx produced, he “conspired” with lighting designer Jeff Ravitz, who had a degree in theatre from Northwestern University, to bring more theatrical elements into their increasingly DeYoung-led concept albums and rock opera-inspired stage shows. But no one was more surprised than he to be on Broadway doing eight shows a week. After Jesus Christ Superstar, Goldberg talked DeYoung into doing a collection of Broadway songs, and in 1994, he released 10 on Broadway. “It’s a misconception that I had aspirations in that [more traditional show tunes] direction—I never solicited any of this,” he says. “My aspirations were joining the world of rock and theatre.” Inspired, he picked up the text of Hunchback of Notre “It does seem that we’ve lost sight of the importance of the songs. They are after all called musicals not playsicals." —Dennis DeYoung 12 February 2010 •

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January 2011 PDF - Stage Directions Magazine