Danny Stiles has been seen performing all over the country over the years; from the original Broadway casts of WONDERLAND, SISTER ACT, and LEAP OF FAITH, to playing the Genie among other roles at Disneyland’s theme park theatre. His travels in performing have taken him around Europe and back to Orange County, and his current performing home is as Dave, in San Diego Musical Theater’s production of THE FULL MONTY playing through February 26th at the Horton Grand Theatre.
A fun musical based on the hit movie of the same name, THE FULL MONTY is about a group of six down-on-their-luck steelworkers who dare to bare it all to raise some money while they look for work to support their families. Danny plays Dave, a married man who has his insecurities but tries to conquer them for himself and his marriage.
Having performed across the country, from Broadway to Disneyland, Danny finds that regardless of where it is located, it’s the live part of theatre that makes this a constantly compelling art form to participate in.
The operative word here is live, or living. There is a different energy to watch something or be a part of something that is happening in real time. It’s unpredictable and it is never the same twice. I learn something new about my character or about the story every time I perform live. Whether its Disney or Broadway, that electricity of watching a live performance keeps audiences entranced.
While the premise of the show is a fun and funny twist on a buddy comedy, it does cover a lot of emotional ground. Stiles says that it is this heartfelt core that brings him back to the show.
One of the reasons I love this show, or any show I have done, is finding the common ground with the character I am playing. I am revisiting the role of Dave after playing him a few years back, but I have to re-examine him and his emotional journey, the same way I examine my life and the journey I have been on in the last few years. I am not the same person I was when I forty played the role, so that keeps playing Dave compelling and challenging. I find myself connecting emotionally more to Dave now than I did before. But I also am seeing him as more of a survivor, and a fighter than I did before because I have been surviving and being a fighter in my career for so long. I think the key is to bring an element of me to the character, and as long as I present a portion of me on stage, I feel like the character is genuine.
What has been the best part of performing the role Danny in this show?
My favorite thing about doing this show, and playing Dave is to perform it with other actors who have not done the show before. When I first did the show, it transformed me. I came through the experience more confident, caring less about what others thought of me, and embracing my uniqueness. I am so excited to watch my fellow “strippers” go on that same transformative journey now, and to be next to them as they “go all the way”. I also just love the humanity of the character Dave and the moral message of the show.
Stiles also hopes the audience comes away entertained, but also with some food for thought as they leave the theatre.
I hope that they come in with an expectation of what they think the show is about, and they leave surprised that they actually were moved, changed and learned to love these characters. On the surface, the show could be said to just be about strippers, but it’s really about expectations, finding humanity defining gender roles, and going on a journey with these characters. In the end, you really want these guys to finish what they set out to do because you see their hearts and you champion for them.
When he isn’t traveling he is focusing on giving back by teaching his wonderful students as an acting, improvisation and audition coach in Orange County. As an acting coach for younger performers, he is excited to be working with this next generation of performers.
I am so excited about their bravery, their ambition, and their trust. Teaching and coaching have been so rewarding and humbling. As an acting teacher and coach, it is a huge responsibility to shape and mold their experience in the performing world, so it’s also important to respect that. In the end, I see them making bold choices, and trusting themselves. I think that’s what is so exciting. These are developing humans who are learning the importance of making bold choices, thinking critically, and loving themselves for who they are right now. Those lessons translate into important human lessons they can take with them through their entire lives.
If you want to follow Danny’s adventures in San Diego and beyond you can follow him on Instagram at dannystiles or on Snapchat at Mrsdannystiles. Or you can follow San Diego Musical Theatre on Twitter @SDMTmusicals or on instagram @sandiegomusicaltheatre
FULL MONTY is playing at The Horton Grand Theatre through February 26th at the Horton Grand Theatre. For ticket and show time information go to www.sdmt.org