Mr. Song, Mr. Dance — Mr. Tapdance, Danny Gardner is Crushin It!

By Kimberly Dijkstra

A tap dancer since the age of 5, Danny Gardner has been dancing and singing his way through the theater world. With a degree in musical theater from Ithaca college, Gardner spent years performing in national tours and regional productions. Ten years after graduating, he made his Broadway debut as Lucky in the tap dance extravaganza “Dames At Sea.”

Comparing Broadway to regional theater, Gardner sees no difference in the level of work ethic, talent, or overall quality of productions. Often shows in regional houses use the same costumes and sets that appeared on Broadway, not to mention creative individuals who work in both spheres. The main difference is the feeling in the air. Regional productions have a set start date and end date while Broadway shows must prove financially successful to have staying power.

“On Broadway you hope that the show will run for years, but at the beginning you don’t know that,” Gardner explained.

The song-and-dance-man loves performing in regional productions because he loves to travel and meet people in parts of the country and the world he may not have otherwise visited.

“You get to be a part of their community,” Gardner said.

Performing in “Singin’ In the Rain” has taken him to Chicago and Long Island. He’s played the iconic Gene Kelly role in the show that has had a warm place in the general public’s heart since the ‘50s.

“That’s what’s so special, the end of act one, they know it’s coming – they’re waiting for you to sing ‘Singin’ In the Rain’, the title number,” he said. “Then when it starts to rain, it’s like this magic moment…and it brings so much joy.”

In between projects, Gardner teaches tap dance and just before the pandemic shut down theater across the country, Gardner started teaching an online tap class with Steps on Broadway.

He’s also spent some of this pandemic-related free time writing parody songs and posting videos of them online to spread awareness about safety precautions and entertain his social media followers. ‘

’ to the tune of ‘Ya Got Trouble’ got thousands of views and gave Gardner the excuse to don formalwear at home.

Another fun expression of creativity, Gardner made a mini-sitcom called “

, a physical comedy video series.

“It’s purely physical. There is no talking, so that’s been an interesting challenge in this new medium,” Gardner said. “How do you keep someone’s attention with just comedic physicality?”

Beyond that, Gardner participated in volume three of

virtual series.

Somewhere in the middle of all of these projects, Gardner found time to move in with his girlfriend.

“It was an interesting thing to do during a pandemic, but we did it,” he remarked.

Like many others, Gardner realized how important physically seeing people is to feeling a sense of community and looks forward to getting back into a room with his colleagues and creating something new. Furthermore, he sees positive changes coming to the industry.

“I think we’re in a state right now that has a lot of possibility for social equity and the BIPOC community being able to take a larger space in the theater world,” he added. “I’m excited to be a part of that.”

 

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