Daniel Yearwood
Daniel Yearwood

5 Questions with Daniel Yearwood of Sweeney Todd

The Broadway revival of Sweeney Todd recently welcomed Daniel Yearwood to the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, taking over the role of Anthony from Jordan Fisher. Previously, across the way on 46th Street at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, Yearwood was starring in Hamilton where he had been playing John Laurens/Philip Hamilton since 2019.

Daniel Yearwood, Miguel Cervantes, Kyle Scatliffe and Ebrin R. Stanley in Hamilton. Photo by Joan Marcus.
Daniel Yearwood, Miguel Cervantes, Kyle Scatliffe, and Ebrin R. Stanley in Hamilton. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Now over on Fleet Street, the new Sweeney Todd star took some time to answer 5 Questions with Broadway Direct, revealing the Tony Award-winning icon that inspires him, all the assets of Sweeney Todd that will thrill audiences, and where he finds his escape as a New Yorker.

1. What inspired you to become an actor?

I saw my high school production of West Side Story my sophomore year at Bronx High School of Science, and I’d always been musically inclined (I’d been accepted at LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts as a Music-Instrumental major) when something sparked. My Junior year I sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” for our production of Thoroughly Modern Millie and our director Colleen Hawks Pierce asked, “Where the heck have you been?” She introduced me to Rutgers Summer Acting Conservatory—a 5-week intensive in the summer of 2012 where I remember taking an acting course with Kevin Kittle. It was there I learned about Stanislavski and Meisner -two of many techniques- and I fell in love with both the craft and the camaraderie that came with studying alongside other artists who felt so passionately about this incredible art form.

2. Who in your field inspires you?

This one’s tough—can there only be one?! I think Denzel Washington is the GOAT-I have so much respect for him and the work he’s done over his career. But narrowing it down to specifically musical theater I’d have to say Audra McDonald. I’ll never forget my first Broadway show (that I can remember, I saw The Lion King when I was 7) was Porgy and Bess at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in 2012. We sat in the back row, and it was her first performance back from a medical leave and she graced the stage effortlessly. To witness her career—the resilience she’s displayed on stage alongside the kindness and love she exhibits beyond the stage door is an example of how I hope to live my life. There are two “greatest emotions”- Love and Fear and everything else stems from those two and she chooses love, so frequently that I can’t help but try and follow her example. More personal inspirations are Shonica Gooden, T. Oliver Reid, Dominic Colon, Tommy Kail, Michael Arden and so many more that have quite literally shown me what it means to live fearlessly and to love not what we do but to love the people we do it with.

Daniel Yearwood in costume backstage at Sweeney Todd.
Daniel Yearwood in costume backstage at Sweeney Todd.

3. What will audiences be most excited about seeing in Sweeney Todd?

This cast is absolutely phenomenal and each member approaches this show with an intensity and fervor that keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire run. You will laugh from the depths of your being and your heart will have its strings pulled witnessing the tragedy of this tale. The performances are a beauty to behold, and I cannot express enough how brilliant the score sounds with this 26-piece orchestra. The details in Jonathan Tunick’s orchestration; Natasha Katz’s lighting design; Steven Hoggett’s shapes in movement; Emilio Sosa’s gorgeous costumes; Mimi Lien’s entrancing set design; Tommy Kail’s guidance in finding freedom within structure all transport you to an incredible world I’m so grateful to be stepping into. This show honors Sondheim’s work so gorgeously and whether you’re a Musical Theatre/Sondheim aficionado or curious and wanted to see a show on Broadway, Sweeney Todd is a marvel of storytelling.

4. If you didn’t need to sleep at night, what would you spend your time doing?

I’ve always been an avid gamer and love the idea of exploring other worlds that differ from the one we live in. However, I’m a guy born and raised in New York City and there are so many places in our world I haven’t gotten to experience. Because the sun will rise at some point, I’d probably spend my nights trying to listen to every genre of music and listen to as many artists as possible while stargazing. Light pollution comes with the territory for the city that never sleeps! I’ll never forget being in Maine during my summers of ’14-’16 working at Qusisana Resort and just taking in the night sky-especially close to the New Moon phase and reflecting on how infinitesimal our time is in contrast to how vast the universe is. Stevie Wonder said it best—”Music is a world within itself with a language we all understand.” Yeah—I think I’d spend it listening and looking. We’ve got two eyes and two ears for a reason. I’d want to take in as much of the universe as possible from the closest place with a clear view of our Milky Way!

5. What is your favorite NYC spot?

To eat? To have fun? To cry? I’d have to say between Battery Park City and the Cloisters are my two favorite spots. I love the peace and tranquility the sounds of the river provide but also love a good ol’ harbor. Because I’ve only really known the concrete jungle for most of my life—just finding anywhere with lots of trees!!! Sitting under a giant tree, feeling the energy of the roots, and reminding myself to breathe and release the tension this city can manifest. New Yorkers truly move differently and the pace here is unlike anywhere else! I love what I call the Big Three Parks-Central Park, Prospect, and Van Cortlandt, but find yourself near a river or a stream and balance it out. A different kind of movement surrounding me is ideal.

You can catch Daniel Yearwood in Sweeney Todd, now running at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.

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