W. Bloomfield native back home in ‘Rent’
BY ERIN BEN-MOCHE
OU News Bureau
There are five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes in a year, and West Bloomfield local Danny Harris Kornfeld cherishes every one of them while playing Mark Cohen in the “Rent: 20th Anniversary Tour.”
“Rent” follows lives of impoverished young bohemians struggling to survive New York City during the ’80s HIV/AIDS epidemic. Playwright Jonathan Larson devised the show in 1996.
“It’s been surreal,” Kornfeld said. “ ‘Rent’ was the first show I’d ever seen on Broadway and it was the first soundtrack I ever memorized. I never thought I’d be the next Mark. Getting to play this part during this time was truly a dream come true.”
Larson never saw his masterpiece receive a Pulitzer Prize or win three Tony Awards including best musical. He died one day before the show opened. After a 12-year run, the show closed in 2008 but has remained a musical theater classic.
“The show has a cult following. It’s the ‘Hamilton’ of the ’90s,” Kornfeld said.
“Hamilton: An American Musical” was written and composed by Lin-Manuel Miranda who has also won numerous Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize. Miranda has said he incorporated Larson’s “Rent” into his “Hamilton.”
“You can see the parallels, which are unbelievable,” Kornfeld said. “With all the hype comes a lot of expectation from the audience.”
Kornfeld had to go through multiple auditions to land the role of Mark. He found out the part was his while attending the Tony Award-winning show “Bright Star.”
“I called [someone from casting directors office] back, in the 10-minutes I had of intermission time and he told me I got the part,” Kornfeld said. “I don’t remember what happened the entire second act of the show.”
The new “Rent” cast was rushed into rehearsals and began performing Sept. 15, 2016. Rent performed at the Fisher Theatre in Detroit from March 21-26.
The week performances reunited Kornfeld with his friends, family and old teachers from metro Detroit.
Kornfeld’s biggest fan — his mother, Pam — couldn’t believe the local camaraderie regarding her son.
“It’s crazy I get these texts daily on people who saw Danny in the show saying how great he is,” she said. “The amount of support Danny has gotten from the community is really nice.”
“He always said it was a part he could play, and I never saw it. But he is a nice Jewish boy playing a nice Jewish boy. I should’ve seen it coming. It makes sense now.”
His high school choir teacher, Sheryl Hauk, was excited to welcome Kornfeld back to Michigan.
“I met him when he was a freshman and could tell he loved theater the minute he walked into the high school,” Hauk said. “He was the kind of kid that was always willing to try something new. He was good at singing and dancing, and he never let the word ‘no’ stand in his way.”
The “Rent” actor grew up performing at the West Bloomfield Public School Theater, community theater groups and Syracuse University, where he graduated with a degree in acting.
Kornfeld has performed in multiple shows since his graduation, including “Spring Awakening,” “Peter Pan” and the world premiere of “Wringer” but felt his role in Rent had the largest impact on his career.
“The job of an actor is to tell and share stories of the world,” Kornfeld said. “Sharing “Rent” during this political climate and getting to tell a story of love, celebration, acceptance and diversity every night is the most wonderful messages to tell. The power to change people’s lives has driven me to do this as a career.”
Short URL: http://www.ounewsbureau.com/?p=11238