Danny Harris Kornfeld helps celebrate 20 years of RENT as Mark

The lyric may be “there’s no day but today”, but RENT has had a long and lasting presence in the theatre community since it first premiered. In celebration of its 20th anniversary, RENT has gone on a celebration tour. As the next generation take up the iconic characters, Danny Harris Kornfeld on bringing Mark, the narrator and filmmaker in the group, to life every night.

Danny Harris Kornfeld as Mark in RENT
Danny Harris Kornfeld as Mark in RENT

Kronfeld studied musical theatre at Syracuse University and with credits like SPRING AWAKENING, and WRINGER under his belt is no stranger to contemporary and challenging shows or material. So how did he first get introduced to this now (classic) show?

“I was nine years old when my parents introduced the soundtrack to me. I’d listen to it in the car on the way to soccer practice. I got to see the show a few years later and it was my first Broadway show. Joey Fatone was Mark and that was VERY exciting.”

What do you find the most interesting about playing this character?

“Mark is the observer. We get to see the show through his eyes. Mark is onstage for the majority of the show, and the times when he is present but not directly participating in the action are VERY intriguing to me.”

Was there a hook or an aspect of him that you were able to find that made it easier to get into discovering this character for you?

“He’s single. I’m currently single. And there’s something about being the one who gets to watch other people in their relationships. But with that he has individual connections to all these different characters that we see collectively throughout the show. In my group of friends I have always very much been a ‘floater.’ I like having different people in my life from all different areas. That’s what I love about Mark and his chosen ‘family.’ On paper you wouldn’t expect for them all to have found one another…but they have.”

Since this is the 20th Anniversary tour of this show, being performed by actors from a new generation, and in a world where people may not be as familiar with this face of the AIDS crisis or this grittier side of NYC, why do you think this show still has impact? How do you feel it is relatable to people currently?

“Any story that promotes inclusivity and love is a story worth telling, and for that reason especially the show remains timeless. As a kid, RENT was my first introduction as to AIDS and homosexuality. It brought up so many questions that I had to ask to my parents about. Growing up in the Midwest, I didn’t have the exposure so I was intrigued. The show continues to have the potential of opening people’s eyes to lifestyles they have not yet encountered. “

What is your favorite moment in the show? Doesn’t have to be one you are in!

“It’s funny. This continues to change for me over the course of the run of the show. Right now I really dig ‘Life Support’ into ‘Another Day’. Getting to say ‘There’s only now, there’s only here. Give into love or live in fear’ every night it’s such a wonderful reaffirmation of a mantra I so whole-heartedly believe in. ‘Tango Maureen’ is also really fun. I like getting to be a little silly with Jasmine Easler.”

You have been in both RENT and SPRING AWAKENING, both shows that sought to tell a story differently than might have been expected through their choice of music, characterization, and bringing older material into a more modern re-telling. What is it that you think these shows have done that has managed to connect to audiences?

“I think it’s the music. Both these shows scores have been a defining change in style from anything audiences had been used to. RENT with its eclectic use of Rock, Pop and Gospel and SPRING AWAKENING with its folk and lyricism transfixed audiences into a different kind of story-telling than what they had seen before. The sound of these shows is easy to connect too especially in the time that they were first presented to the theatre scene.”

How are you enjoying playing in Japan? Is there anything in the show that gets a reaction here that you were surprised by?

“Japan has been the greatest experience. I love being thrown into environments where I feel like such an outsider, because that moment when you feel like you belong and have your bearings is one of the best in the world. The Japanese focus as audience members is astounding. No one is getting up to pee or texting or looking at their program. They are with you, transfixed for all two hours and forty minutes. That has been such a nice surprise. Also, their love for Angel makes me smile every night. Her entrance applause had me grinning from ear to ear. Audiences would clap all throughout the song- and on perfect beat too!”

Check out the Katie and the rest of the cast of the 20th anniversary tour of “Rent” from January 10th – 15th at the San Diego Civic Theatre. For tickets and show information go to www.Broadwaysd.com

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