Tony nominee Daniel Breaker (Passing Strange, Shrek, The Performers) makes his 54 Below debut with a new solo show of jazz standards and blues. Breaker and some special guests will take the stage for one night only on January 28. In anticipation of his concert, Breaker looked back on his classical musical influences, the random assortment of sounds he enjoyed in his 20s and more.
What record/album was your favorite growing up?
Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life was on constant shuffle throughout my childhood. I remember my dad playing some stellar Max Roach albums as well.
What concert most influenced you as a performer?
Classical pianist Awadagin Pratt. I first heard this eccentric and introverted performer when I was living in the Midwest. He was playing Brahms ballades—haunting.
What is your go-to audition song?
Oops, I don't have one. Which is maybe why I'm not booking many musicals.
What song are you most excited to perform in your show?
I love singing “Mr. Bojangles,” but I'm also looking forward to singing a lesser known Roberta Flack song called “Sunday and Sister Jones.” This song is full of ghosts.
If you could invite any performer onstage for a duet at 54 Below, who would it be?
I'm lucky enough to share the stage with my first pick: the extraordinary, velvet-voiced Condola Rashad (Ruined, Stick Fly). This will be our third go-around. This girl can sing!
What musical theater performer from the past do you wish you could collaborate with?
Sammy Davis Jr. Yep.
What album was the soundtrack to your 20s?
Impossible question! I was floating somewhere among Bernstein's recording of Mahler's Second Symphony, Radiohead's OK Computer and Coltrane's My Favorite Things. Oh, and Bach; lots and lots of Bach.
What’s your favorite love song?
Donny Hathaway’s “For All We Know.”
What is your favorite workout track?
Workout track??? The last time I was in a gym, Dukakis was running for president.
What’s the best hidden gem in on your iPod?
It's a three-way tie:
1. The soundtrack to the movie Babel.
2. Benjamin Britten rehearsal recordings of his War Requiem.
3. Brazilian guitarist Seu Jorge singing Bowie songs in Portuguese.
When this song plays, I can’t help but dance:
I refer this question to my four-year-old son, Rory. His favorite song to dance to is Shostakovich's “8th Symphony, 3rd Movement.” This has been a longstanding post-bubble bath tradition in the Daniel Breaker/Kate Whoriskey household. A kid who likes Shostakovich...let the therapy begin.
What song most makes you smile?
Any song from the Charlie Brown Christmas album.
Check out Daniel Breaker’s one-night-only show on January 28 at 54 Below. Click below to see Breaker perform the heartbreaking “Mr. Bojangles.”