DANNY BURSTEIN: The Only Constant Is Change
by Trish Causey
While on a brief holiday with his family, Burstein stops long enough to talk about his career and his personal philosophy on acting. He recalls his unassuming entrée into theatre.
“I was thirteen years old, at a horrible — I hate to say that, but it was at the time — horrible junior high school. When I was there, it was really kind of a tough school. I had a wonderful teacher named Stuart Glazer; he was my English teacher. He said to me, ‘You’ve got a wonderful affinity for drama.’”
The teacher saw something special in the young Burstein, and Mr. Glazer encouraged him, “You should go to the high school of performing arts.” Burstein’s response: “Great! What’s the high school of performing arts?”
The high school was the famed Fiorello H. La Guardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, a vocational school for actors, musicians, and dancers. Burstein recalls his teacher’s cautionary words, “’It’s a very, very difficult audition process, and in order to audition for it, you have to prepare a few monologues.’ And I said, ‘Great! What’s a monologue?’ He explained that to me, and I went and I auditioned. Out of over 4,000 kids that auditioned that year, about 123 made it in, and I was one of the 123 by some crazy miracle.” After all these years, he still sounds surprised.
“We were in just a little building on 46th. It was very tough to get in there, but it was a wonderful, wonderful four years, great experience for me, and it set me on the path of being a professional actor.”
Burstein laughs as he tells how serious the instructors at the “Fame” High School were about the kids’ education. “They said to us when we got in there, ‘Look, if you don’t want to be an actor for the rest of your life, if you’re not 100% sure’ — and here we are, we’re like 14 years old, on the first day of school — ‘There’s the door, right there.’ I loved acting, but I never thought I could ever make a living at it. All of the sudden, I had a goal. I had a direction, and it really, in many ways, saved my life.”
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