Fresh from performing in the role of Giles Ralston in the world famous The Mousetrap, Dan Burton is truly a triple threat, famed for his powerful vocals, smooth as silk dance skills and acting talents. He has stared in shows such as 42nd Street, Singing In The Rain, Top hat, Gyspy (Olivier Award nominated for his portrayal of Tulsa), and White Christmas. I was fortunate enough to talk to Dan about his time in the industry, his inspirations and his thoughts on #BoysDanceToo
How did you get into performing? Is it something that you always wanted to do?
When I was 14, I fell in love watching Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire, Tommy Rall, Bob Fosse, just some of the greats that sing, dance and act with such ease, grace and flair, all in their own way. This is what inspired me. Then once my voice broke around the age of 15, I realised that I could sing and that I had a powerful voice and range that could bend to fit all various styles and genres of singing. This has been instrumental in the various different genres of musicals I have performed in throughout my career so far.
I loved reading, and reading scripts. From 16 onwards, I wanted to be a West End leading man who did it all. It was, and is the only thing I have ever wanted to do!
Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to go into the performing arts industry?
Never stop , don’t look for fast tracks to success , work hard and it will pay off. Be prepared to sacrifice and most importantly you have to love what you do more than anything!!!!
Sing , dance , act , research , inspire and be inspired. And most of all have fun!
Can you tell us how it felt to be a part of The Mousetrap?
To be a part of the longest running play/show in the world is incredible!
You really feel like you are a part of history. Giles Ralston is such an amazing part full of depth and dynamic and you carry the weight of the piece on your shoulders, two hours per performance along with my on stage wife in the show. It has been nice to rest my voice and my legs (if only for six months) and to be part of a piece that let’s me flex my acting muscles in such a great way. My final performance in October this year marked the 28,000th performance since the play opened 67 years ago in the West End.
Is it difficult to come into a show as famous as The Mousetrap? I suppose that it’s quite a quick rehearsal period and changeover between casts?
No, not really, out wonderful director Ian Talbot had redirected this cast which in my opinion gives the production a fresh new lease of life. I am very lucky to be working with some wonderful co stars, Haley Flaherty, Sam Herron, Mary Galloway, to name but a few. The rehearsal period for this production is only two weeks, so it is quite a lot of ‘knuckling’ down to get everything ready and my part all set for the first performance. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being in The Mousetrap and have enjoyed the six month contract.
Had you seen The Mousetrap before joining the cast?
When I was called to have a meeting with the director, I went and watched the show. So I knew exactly what the piece is about and what my potential role would be within it. I loved it.
I assume that part of the fun of being in The Mousetrap is the fact that you get to be in on the best kept secret in Theatreland. Do you get asked about the secret at all?
All the time, I have to bit my lip. You have to keep the tradition. My Wife was away performing in Guys & Dolls in Paris when I opened , I didn’t allow her to read the 2nd act so she wouldn’t know who the killer was before she watched.
Do you have a favourite role that you have played?
Ooo good question…
I have been lucky to have played a few favourites. Don Lockwood in Singin In The Rain. Frankie Valli In Jersey Boys And Tulsa in Jonathan Kent’s revival of Gypsy have to be some at the top of the list. However each contract has different challenges and rewards. The combination of working hard and being fortunate has allowed me to play so many different roles, all with different skill sets required.
You are soon to be returning to White Christmas at The Dominion Theatre. Are you looking forward to spending another festive season with this feel good show after it did so well in Leicester last year?
Absolutely, I cannot wait to headline the Dominion this year with Danny Mac.
Phil Davis is such a wonderful part and I love getting to flex my comedy muscles along with the huge dance, singing and acting elements required and needed for this part. The show is perfect for Christmas and we have a wonderful cast. Getting to work with Danny mac is a joy as our friendship spills onto stage every night. We normally would be up for similar roles so to get to play opposite as book ends is a delight. The story is so warm and heartfelt throughout and this production is such a family show , there is something for everyone a feast for the eyes and ears.
How does it feel to go back to a role? Does it feel the same, or like a new challenge?
I love it, as you get to build , tweak and revisit something to try to make it even better and build on what you have created before. You never stop learning.
How did you get into dancing? Has it always been a love of yours?
I had the best teacher. Joanne Haylock in Lincoln. I started late for a boy around 14, but luckily I had the right turn out and body shape. And Jo was like Julie Walters out of the movie Billy Elliot. It was a small dancing school where I was one boy with lots of girls. I had to learn fast. And she is the main reason why I am at the level of dancer I am to date. Her perseverance and skill as a teacher is incredible.
She got me to the level in a few years required to get into further training at 16 in London. Along with this the love of watching Gene , Fred , Danny Kaye , Bob Fosse , Etc .. pushed me to try and emulate and be the best performer ( and actor singer and dancer ) I could be and still strive to be.
ou have been lucky enough to be involved in a number of big dance shows such as White Christmas and 42nd Street. Do you have a favourite of the famous dance shows?
Another great question. As previously mentioned each role brings a different challenge and skill set. Being completely honest, it is so hard to make “triple threat” performances look effortless. Especially live on stage. I wanted and want to emulate the greats like Kelly and Astaire. Those who have been captured on film, those famous performances which have been immortalised forever.
Recreating similar routines in 8,9 sometimes 10 performance’s a week is so hard on the body, and that’s just dance. Add singing ( breath control ) with dancing and acting on top. Making it look effortless is the hardest thing and it requires incredible discipline. Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I love a challenge and that I love to push myself a bit further with each of these ‘triple threat parts’ . People think it’s easy and the “easy option” to be in a musical. How wrong they can be!!!
I loved the tap routines of Billy Lawlor in 42nd street. Dancing the mammoth task of Don Lockwood in Singin in the rain , dancing the dreams of Tulsa In Gypsy, the beats of Jerry Travers in Top hat along with singing the amazing scores of Irving Berlin to Bernstein is a highlight. Each production a snapshot in time.
However, West side story, in my opinion is one of, if not THE hardest of dance shows. So getting to perform the Latin feel of Jerome Robins Bernardo, leader of the Sharks for the 50th Anniversary cast, and later in my career returning to play Riff leader of the Jets was a highlight. Classical ballet combined with technical jazz is one key element to the musicals success to date in my opinion. Of course getting to perform Phil Davis in White Christmas is a real treat.
Following on from the #boysdancetoo events, do you think that it is important that male dancers are celebrated so that any young boys wanting to dance have something to aspire too?
100 percent !!!!!
I cannot talk about this enough. If you have a dream, pursue it. Ignore people who mock as they are ignorant and shouldn’t stop you from pursuing what you want. We are athletes, the skill and strength required to do what we do is that of any Olympian performing like said disciplines, for example, gymnastics, ice skating or running. Not to mention the different dance genres, tap, ballet, jazz, ballroom, the list goes on.
People who mock that we are feminine are simply foolish and small minded. I have been called ‘Gay’ and names to that effect in the past because I do ballet and dance, but to be perfectly frank, even if I was gay who cares. I was mocked and bullied as a teen and if I had listened to these small minded individuals, I would have missed out on the best moments of my working life and life in general, meeting and working with the most amazing people. Including my now Wife.
Do what makes you happy. When I dance , when I sing , when I act, I’m happy! the happiest in fact and that feeling never leaves, Even Now! It’s a way of life for me! Getting to do all three at the same time is amazing !!
Do you have any words of encouragement for boys who want to dance?
This is my personal opinion , I was told that ballet was paramount in all the other disciplines to come together. It has helped me, It creates , line , structure , core stability , strength to name but a few traits , By training in this it helped me as a tap dancer , ballet dancer, jazz dancer , contemporary dancer, ballroom dancer. I found a local teacher who got me to the standard needed to further my training in London.
There are other styles and disciplines this is just my experience I’m mentioning. Don’t compare yourself to others everyone is running their own race, people achieve things at the time they are meant to , and never stop learning.
And most importantly , Never Give Up!! Personally , Through injury , recovery , rejection , disappointment, uncertainty, Keep going, Theatre is one of the best ways of expression , you can be whoever you want to be and express it.