I first came to know David Burnham about four years ago when he released his album One Day. From the first note David sang on his album, I was engulfed! David's voice is so rich, powerful, and heavenly, I could listen to him sing all day! Follow that excitement to the theatre when I saw him in the Off-Broadway musical The Best Is Yet To Come: The Music of Cy Coleman...talk about stage presence! I could not keep my eyes off David! And take that one step further to a beautifully intimate concert at NYC's famed cabaret room, Don't Tell Mama where David raised the roof with Broadway hits, his own original music, and some American standards! This guy can do it all!
So, when I discovered that David was one of the creatives behind the new Off-Broadway musical Happy 50ish, I knew I had to get an interview with him! Thanks to Glenna Freedman Public Relations, David answered my call and I turned on David's song "I Can Fly" to celebrate!
Happy 50ish is a musical comedy that revolves around Bob’s surprise birthday party. As he turns the big five-0, he learns to laugh and make fun of all the things that inevitably come with age. He’s arrived early for his party, his wife is running late, and there’s a backyard full of party guests. While reading his birthday cards aloud, he learns that turning 50 magnifies the unintended and hilarious realities of middle age. Happy 50ish plays at Theatre Row's Beckett Theatre (410 West 42nd Street, between 9th & 10th Avenue) through August 30! Click here for tickets!
1. What made you want to be a part of the creative team of this Happy 50ish? Mark Vogel and Lynn Shore had been working on a first draft of Happy 50ish for a few months, when Lynn got the idea to rent a theater and present the show to friends and family. Mark, who is one of my best friends, called me and asked if I would come listen to the show in Lynn's living room and give my thoughts before they presented it to an audience. Mark and Lynn are amazing musicians and artists, but they wanted a fresh eye to take a look at what they had written. They performed it for me and I instantly "got" what they were trying to do with this piece. I gave my opinion and suggestions and we set about cutting and restructuring the musical. I may not be "50ish" but my sense of humor is the same as Mark’s and Lynn’s. They presented our new version to an audience that weekend and it was a success. The audience really loved it. And they laughed! What's more, the theater they performed in wanted them to come back and do an extended run. Mark and Lynn knew they had something special. They asked me if I would join them as a co-writer and continue to create this new show. So, for the next few years we re-wrote and workshopped the piece and had very successful runs in California. Now we are thrilled Happy 50ish has made it to NYC.
2. What did you enjoy most about co-writing this show? I love it when we come up with a new line or song that the three of us thinks is funny, then we present it to an audience and they laugh too. That is very satisfying.
3. What has been the best part about working with Lynn and Mark? The three of us would have writing weekends where we would basically camp out at Lynn's house for a weekend and write for 48 hours straight. We would throw out ideas, improv, and laugh. Then we would write a new song and laugh, then rewrite a scene and laugh. It was incredibly creative, supportive, and fun. Oh sure, sometimes we would get stressed, I mean writing a new show is not easy, but we always could make each other laugh. That is what Happy 50ish is all about, to quote our own show, "find the laughter."
4. What do you relate to most about this show's message? I think the lyrics to one of our songs says it best for me:
"All we really need to know we learned when we were six,
Share, hug, and take a nap and do things just for kicks,
Find the joy in little things, you'll be happy ever after,
If you feel you're growing old, find the laughter."
5. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Happy 50ish? One audience member said to me after a performance "I laughed, I cried, I wanna come back!" That works for me. I like that our 50ish plus audience find things to identify with in the show and can laugh about it, and I love that our audience who isn't 50ish yet can find things they see in their parents and laugh with them about it. Hopefully they all get their heart strings tugged at a little.
6. If you could give people one reason to come see Happy 50ish what would that reason be? If you want to laugh and have a great time at the theater, come see Happy 50ish.
7. What is the best advice you ever received? My Mom told me when I was very young, "David, whatever you do with your life, make sure you do what makes you happy." I have a life in the theater, and not only does it make me happy, but when people see my work, I hope it makes them happy too.
8. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? It is so important to be truthful in whatever you are performing. The audience can tell if you are not being honest and I think that it so important in life. You have to be honest and true to who you are.
9. How do you want to be remembered? I hope I will be remembered as a talented person who had a good heart and cared deeply about other people...and co-wrote one of the most successful money-making Off-Broadway musicals ever written!!!
10. If you could have any super power, what would you choose? I have always wanted to fly. I used to have dreams about soaring over a forest, feeling free and powerful. And mind control could be fun, "Go... see...Happy...50ish."
11. If you could create your own signature drink, what would it be and what would you call it? Well, "Sex On the Beach" has already been created. So I'd have to just go with a classic, anything with vodka I call "Mother's Milk."
12. What is your favorite way to stay in shape? Umm...sex.
David Burnham is a composer, an award-winning performer, director and choreographer. He has recorded two solo CDs, which include original music that he co- wrote with Mark Vogel. He co-founded "Camp Sing," a writing/performing camp for young artists. As a performer, David has appeared on Broadway in The Light In The Piazza and starred as "Fiyero" in Wicked. He has appeared in many national tours, and has performed his solo concert across U.S. and Canada.