Chichester Festival Theatre’s critically acclaimed revival of Gypsy was a runaway hit in its original run at Chichester, and is repeating that success at the Savoy Theatre during its West End run. Imelda Staunton has won over critics and theatregoers alike with her performance in the iconic role of Mama Rose, but there are plenty of other stars in the London company and Dan Burton is one of them. His performance as Tulsa in the production has made many sit up and take notice of this rising star, who is featured in this edition of In Profile.
Dan Burton earned a scholarship to Laine Theatre Arts, training at the same prestigious performing arts college that has produced such other stage talents as Louise Dearman, Ruthie Henshall, Aaron Renfree and Kerry Ellis, among many others. He performed in numerous productions while training there, including playing the Cat in a production of Honk!, and has gone on to carve out a successful career on the stage since graduating from Laine.
Burton has a long and varied list of theatre credits, starting with his first professional role in the National Tour of Miss Saigon as a member of the ensemble. He soon found his way into London’s West End though, making his début there on the stage of the Aldwych Theatre as part of the original London cast of Dirty Dancing in 2006. He spent a year with Dirty Dancing in his ensemble role before joining another West End show, this time appearing at the Cambridge Theatre in the smash hit musical Chicago. Once again in the ensemble, he played the on-stage roles of Sergeant Fogarty/The Jury, but also understudied and played the principal role of Amos Hart.
He left the show, and the West End, in 2008, and headed out onto the open road again in the National Tour of West Side Story. He appeared in the touring production as leader of the Sharks, Bernardo, performing alongside Daniel Koek and Sofia Escobar as ‘star-crossed lovers’ Tony and Maria and visiting venues all around the UK, including London, Glasgow, Cardiff, Leeds, Edinburgh and Sheffield.
He returned to the West End when his time on tour came to an end, joining his second original London cast as an ensemble member in the musical adaption of Legally Blonde. The West End production of the hit show opened at the Savoy Theatre in January 2010 (previews from 5th December 2009), starring Sheridan Smith as Elle Woods alongside Duncan James, Alex Gaumond, Jill Halfpenny and Peter Davison. Burton performed the ensemble roles of Padamadan/Nikos, but was also offered the chance to appear as part of the principal line-up as 2nd Cover Warner Huntington III, in addition to being 1st Cover to the roles of Grandmaster Chad/Dewey/Kyle.
He departed from Legally Blonde in October 2010 and joined yet another original London cast, this time at the Novello Theatre for the new Stiles and Drewe musical, Betty Blue Eyes. He played Barraclough/Prince Philip as part of the ensemble, while also acting as 1st Cover Francis Lockwood and 2nd Cover Gilbert Chilvers. Then it was onto the Prince Edward Theatre to play Joe Pesci in the West End production of Jersey Boys, in addition to understudying the lead role of Frankie Valli. As 1st Cover, he appeared as Frankie Valli on-stage on numerous occasions during his year with the show, and to great acclaim.
He was then cast as Kenickie in an international production of the musical Grease at Ljubljana Festival Theatre, Slovenia, before coming home to take on the role of Earl in Chichester Festival Theatre’s highly successful revival of The Pajama Game, which ran at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester from 22nd April to 8th June 2013 and starred Hadley Fraser and Joanna Riding as Sid and Babe respectively. The production proved so popular that it subsequently transferred to the Shaftesbury Theatre for a West End run in May 2014 with new leading man, Michael Xavier. Burton reprised his role as Earl, but also understudied and played Sid on many occasions, including representing the show in the role at West End Live 2014.
He returned to Chichester when The Pajama Game ended its West End run. Chichester Festival Theatre staged a critically acclaimed revival of Sondheim’s great Broadway classic, Gypsy, between 6th October and 8th November 2014, starring Imelda Stanton who was universally acclaimed for her performance as Mama Rose. Burton also appeared in he production as Tulsa, and similarly received a torrent of praise for his performance in the role.
He then travelled to France to star in Singin’ in the Rain at the Theatre du Chatelet, Paris through March 2015. He played Don Lockwood, his first lead role, in the new production, which also starred Emma Kate Nelson (Lina Lamont), Daniel Crossley (Cosmo Brown) and Clare Halse (Kathy Seldon) and was choreographed by Stephen Mear.
Later that same month, he was back in the UK for Chichester Festival Theatre’s 5* revival of Gyspy, which was given a second run in London’s West End this time. Returning to London for the first time in forty years, it transferred into the Savoy Theatre in April 2015 (previews from 28th March), which is where he can currently be found. Imelda Staunton reprised her role from the original production, as did Burton, who is delighting West End audiences with his performance as Tulsa. The critically acclaimed production has proven so popular that its West End season was extended, and it now remains in London until 28th November 2015.
His other theatre credits include the opening Gala for the International Festival of Musical Theatre (New Theatre, Cardiff), the Opening Royal Gala (Wales Millennium Centre), the title role in Jack and the Beanstalk at the new Theatre, Cardiff with Julian Clary, and Cinderella at the Mayflower, Southampton with Brian Conley and Gok Wan. He also features on the original cast recordings of Dirty Dancing, Legally Blonde and Betty Blue Eyes, as well as the new cast recording for Gypsy.
It was seeing Starlight Express at the Apollo Victoria which first ignited his passion for theatre, and at the age of fourteen, he realised that was where his future lay. He was told at school that a career in theatre was a waste of time and to get a ‘proper job’, but he’s gone from taking ballet and tap classes in Lincoln to starring on the West End stage and proven anyone who ever doubted him well and truly wrong in the process. Dan Burton is a true triple threat performer who is a highly valuable addition to the West End, and has gained quite a fan following through his various roles both here and outside of London. Following his time in Gypsy, the 30 year old singer, dancer and actor will next be heading back to Paris to play Don Lockwood again when Singin’ in the Rain returns to the Theatre du Chatelet in November 2015. The road after that is wide open and could take him anywhere. Dan Burton is a star on the rise and could very well be the next West End leading man.
You can follow Dan on Twitter: @danburton22
By Julie Robinson: @missjulie25
Saturday 1st August 2015