Back On Broadway
Brendan Daugherty returned to Broadway this summer for the third time – and hopes one day to call it home.
USF.edu News Writer
College of The Arts
Brendan Daugherty can do flips, splits and somersaults. He can pole vault, juggle and water ski. He walks on stilts, navigates a tightrope and swings from a trapeze. He surfs, roller blades, plays the saxophone, piano, guitar, and the djembe. And then there’s dancing: tap, jazz, ballet, modern, hip hop.
Radiating spontaneity and exuberance, Daugherty needs a lot of channels for his unlimited energy – any fewer outlets and he might spontaneously combust.
Daugherty’s diverse talents have contributed to an inspiring resume for a rising performer at a relatively young age. He skateboarded in Hannah Montana: The Movie, had a background part in Sam Mendez’s Away We Go, and his gymnastic talents led to an MTV commercial that aired for more than a month.
Gymnastics, circus acts and djembe notwithstanding, what Daugherty does most – and best – is sing. Opera. Classical. Contemporary. He sings the national anthem on University of South Florida basketball and volleyball courts before all games, and he sings as he skateboards around the USF Tampa campus. But where he loves to sing most is on stage.
And his favorite stage is on Broadway.
It’s a spotlight the young performer has had the good fortune – and the talent – to stand beneath twice during his budding career. For two consecutive summers when he was in high school, the Connecticut native was part of the cast of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, first as a member of the children’s chorus and then as the character, Benjamin.
While not the typical teenager’s summer vacation, living and working in New York was, most certainly, a dream come true – a chance of a lifetime he had the opportunity to experience again as a student at USF.
Competing against more than 1,500 other college students, Daugherty was the sole candidate selected for an internship last summer with The Phantom of the Opera’s conductor, Tim Stella. For three months, he entered West 44th’s Majestic Theatre via the stage door, where once inside, he would descend into the orchestra pit to assist the conductor and his musicians with the myriad tasks associated with producing Broadway’s longest-running musical.
“I was Tim’s assistant and did a little bit of everything,” said Daugherty. In addition to learning first-hand about the technical aspects of musical production – such as the secret behind the musical’s trademark crashing chandelier – Daugherty says he gained invaluable insight from Stella on what is required for a successful audition. “Just being surrounded by so many professional and talented people was incredible. I love the whole ‘New York’ experience and the incredible level of energy, drive and competition it offers.”
The experience cemented Daugherty’s plans to make musical theater his life’s pursuit – a direction he has cultivated at USF through participation in numerous stage productions and choral ensembles: Sondheim Review; an original student musical called Inertia; Hair, in which he played the role of Woof; as well as the USF Lab Choir and the elite USF Chamber Singers.
“When I came to USF, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to pursue performing as a career. In fact, I started as a physical education major, and auditioned for vocal performance on a whim,” said Daugherty.
Daugherty admits that choosing to attend USF was also somewhat spontaneous – a decision he made instantly the first time he walked beneath the palms on Martin Luther King Plaza in his shirtsleeves in the middle of February. And while the tropical climate beckoned him, he says that the classical vocal training and personal guidance he has received from College of The Arts faculty and the abundant opportunities he has had to perform at USF have been life changing.
“There are amazing people here at USF. If you share your goals with the instructors, they support you 110 percent,” he said.
While Daugherty’s talent and unbounded energy have been key to helping him develop a resume that rivals that of performers twice his age, he admits that, from time to time, serendipity steps in, creating an unexpected opportunity to participate in a commercial or play a bit part in a movie. “Sometimes I just happen to be in the right place at the right time.”
Like walking underneath USF’s palms trees on a February afternoon.
Mary Beth Erskine can be reached at 813-974-6993.