Q: Have you been doing anything to prepare for your roles over the winter?
DAH: I've been maximizing my time with Ori and Jo because I know my days are about to get very full for the next few months. I'm hoping we can get into a rhythm where they can come and join us for lunch breaks. I had the intention of jumping back into hot yoga and doing some running to get my body prepared, but those plans quickly went the way of the dodo bird.
The holiday season was very good to us. It was Ori's first, and we were in Vancouver introducing her to friends and family who hadn't met her yet. I had the opportunity to play in Onegin at the Arts Club for a week or so before they head out on tour, so it did help to get the musical muscles working before coming out to Stratford.
DW: I adore the "homework" part ahead of a production. I have been doing a bunch of character research on who Marian might have been in her time, taking every singing lesson I can fit into my schedule and resting up for what is to come. I know that this rehearsal process is going to be really intense and I can't wait to get started! I have also been spending a lot of time with my family because I know I am headed into a whirlwind of costumes, choreography and words, words, words. The beginning of the new year was spent relaxing with some hot chocolate and a good movie on the most comfortable of couches.
Q: What are your favourite things about your characters, and do you recognize aspects of yourself in them?
DAH: I love Harold! He's a well-practiced hustler of the highest order. He does it all so easily and with such confidence and purpose. At the same time, we don't know an awful lot about why he is what he is or where he came from, so I get to do a lot of research and creation, which I relish. I'm looking forward to discovering a lot more about him while discombobulating my Marian at every turn - that is, until she finds her way to discombobulate me! Danielle and I only met for the first time when we performed a brief musical medley at the Stratford Festival Gala for Eric McCormack last fall, but I can tell I'm gonna have a great time trying every trick in the book to make her smile!
DW: Can we just talk about how cool Marian is? I absolutely love her strength. She's never, ever the damsel in distress: she takes her actions and ideas very seriously, and follows through with everything that she's got. She's intelligent, creative, witty and generally awe-inspiring for her time. It also helps that Daren, my wonderful Harold, happens to be one of the best in the business. I could tell from our first meeting by that mischievous look in his eye that the next few months are going to be filled with belly laughs and goofy grins!
Q: The Music Man begins rehearsals in February and runs into October, so it will take a lot of stamina. Have you been in long runs of productions in the past, and how do you pace yourself for the challenge ahead?
DAH: It sure will require stamina, but I feel prepared. I recently did the national tour of If/Then, with Idina Menzel, LaChanze and Anthony Rapp, and I learned a lot about sustaining over a long run. It will be different in that I won't have to be travelling from city to city during this contract, but I've done that too with the Dancap production of The Toxic Avenger Musical, here in Toronto. The main thing will be finding ways to maintain a healthy balance or, as my wife would say, "practising radical self-care."
DW: Self-care is going to be our best friend throughout this run. I have been incredibly fortunate to have experienced a long run before by playing Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz for almost two and a half years, so I feel prepared for what's to come. I try to get a lot of sleep, take care of my body and really fuel myself with the right things. It's so helpful that the Festival has so many accessible programs for wellness and betterment. Sleep is the most important aspect of staying healthy, and I get the napping gene from my mother, so I think I'm in good shape for that!
Q: What are you most looking forward to in your first season at Stratford?
DAH: The local community. I have no idea what I'm stepping into, which is exciting, but theatre folks are the same worldwide. When we work together, we form a family. We'll look out for one another, irritate one another and share laughs and mistakes over the next little while. I can't wait to vibe with the folks we'll get to meet, and I hope they'll enjoy the ride as much as I know that we will.
DW: I am beyond excited and fortunate to be surrounded by such talented artists and creators. I have had such wonderful experiences with the people I've met already, so I'm positive that it will only go up from here. I'm eager to learn and really dive into everything Stratford and the Festival have to offer. The theatre world is a funny one, because you forge such fast, beautiful friendships: I can't wait to get to know my new "family"!