By James Manso
Meet Daniel Youngelman, the male lead in Tisch New Theatre’s latest production, ‘Little Shop of Horrors.’
“It’s interesting that my trajectory has been, especially in college, these more aggressive male roles,” Steinhardt senior Daniel Youngelman said. “I definitely don’t see myself as that type of person. I’m quite shy, but I’ve been accessing these more complex, more dominant characters recently.”
Youngelman plays the male lead in Tisch New Theatre‘s ‘Little Shop of Horrors,’ Seymour: the typically helpless love interest and martyr. Now, Youngelman is going back to his past. “I’ve played Seymour before, six years ago. I thought it would be very interesting to come back and look at the role in a new light.”
And that he is. Eschewing Seymour’s inflated incompetence, Youngelman is looking more at the facts of his circumstances. “This production is about really, really looking at these characters microscopically. I think it’s about taking a second glance at what it means to be a working man, specifically, a poor man. Seymour was an orphan. I think it’s sort of about exploring the up-and-coming, working class person.”
The final result has been a thoughtful, insightful, modern portrayal of an otherwise cliché role, more dedicated to the restrictions on the character than the larger-than-life plotline (which is filled with abusive bad guys and plants with human-sized appetites, and the like). “This time, when I’ve talked with Casey [Whyland] and Julesy [Flavelle], we’re rooting it much more in the humane aspects of the characters and of the show. It’s about a man-eating plant. We don’t need to go this full-forced, stereotypical version or these cartoon-ized characters,” he said.
For the Vocal Performance senior, revisiting an old role has served his comprehension of character development – and how that carries over into his craft – now. Bouncing from Little Shop, to Hairspray, more musicals, and back to Little Shop, has invited time for Youngelman to reflect on his trajectory post-graduation “[Seymour is] not the kitschy role. To me, that’s on the easier side. It’s about challenge, for me. Moving through it into Seymour, I’m getting to look at another side of what it means to be an actor, and the different facets and tools that we can access.”