What fun I had catching up with actor/photographer David Perlman. It's been almost two years since we've spoken, but what better time to re-connect then when David is taking center stage in a brand new musical, written just for him!
David stars in A Dog Story with a book by Eric H. Weinberger and music/lyrics Gayla D. Morgan. A Dog Story is a charming new musical comedy about "Roland," a career-driven lawyer, who thinks he must be married to get the partnership he desperately wants. To solve his dilemma, he gets a puppy as a chick magnet. But through first dates, angry tangos, and a sudden disappearance, "Roland" ends up discovering there's more to life when you "get a dog!"
A Dog Story plays a limited run at The Loft at The Davenport Theatre in NYC (354 West 45th Street, between 8th & 9th Avenue). Click here for tickets!
1. Hi David. It's so great to catch up with you as you just started performances of the new Off-Broadway musical A Dog Story. What attracted you to this show? Actually, this is a pretty awesome story. In early 2012, Eric Weinberger asked me to be in a benefit concert that he was putting together; we knew each other peripherally and were fans of each other’s work, and I was excited to be part of this concert. After the benefit, he wrote me such a sweet message and a follow up email saying that he wanted to write a show for me! I was completely honored and flattered, and also there was part of me that was skeptical it would ever happen. But I didn’t know Eric then the way I do now! We ended up getting together and talking through ideas and of course had a bunch of follow up emails. I remember he emailed me Gayla Morgan’s website and said he was thinking of collaborating with her. Since we didn’t know each other, she asked me to send her clips of myself, which I happily did.
In July 2012, Eric sent me the first draft of A Dog Story! In 2013, I went to Key West to do a reading of the show, and in May 2014 I played "Roland" in the world premiere production at the Waterfront Playhouse in Key West. It’s pretty awesome to have been involved with this show from the very beginning. I almost cried when I read Eric’s bio for this Off-Broadway production, which includes "Many thanks…. to David Perlman, for whom I wrote the role of Roland." Eric is such an incredible man, and I am really so honored to be playing this role that I helped to inspire.
2. What do you relate to most about your character "Roland," a career-driven lawyer? "Roland" is a workaholic, and I definitely relate to that! I am an actor and photographer, and I’m often over scheduled with work; thankfully I love what I do. It’s not giving anything away to say that "Roland" gets a dog in this show. Interestingly, I didn’t have a dog when I first did this show…and now I do. I don’t think it’s a coincidence!
3. In A Dog Story, your character thinks he must be married to make partner in his law firm. When has there been a time in your life when you felt you had to do something in order to make it to the next step? What comes to mind is joining Actors’ Equity Association. When I was offered my Equity card, I remember thinking that it was an exciting, and also scary, step. I had been working a lot in the non-Equity world, and I knew it might be more difficult to compete for Equity jobs. I remember thinking "If I can’t compete in the Equity world, then this career isn’t for me. If I really want to make it, I need to take my card and see what happens." So joining Equity was a big and scary thing I needed to do in order to see if this career was really where I belonged.
4. In order to get married, "Roland," gets a puppy to attract women. What do you think the puppy does for "Roland" that he couldn't do on his own to attract women? "Roland" pretty much gets so anxious around beautiful women that he can’t even talk. His friend "Guy" suggests getting a puppy to attract women, and really, it is the ice breaker that "Roland" needs. I do understand this to an extent; while I have no problem talking to people, I generally don’t go around talking to strangers. However, when I’m walking my dog Winnie, I find myself talking to all sorts of people on the street; dogs are great conversation starters!
5. As someone who is married himself, what is something you did, perhaps out of the ordinary, to attract your husband Trey Gerrald? Honestly, I didn’t do anything to attract Trey. For some reason, he had decided he wanted to date me before we even spoke. So attracting him was easy, but I will say that keeping him around is where I had to get to work! I will say that our greatest strength is communication; we are so open with each other it’s crazy. It’s wonderful to feel fully accepted and loved by someone for all the things, good and bad, that make me who I am.
6. Through first dates, angry tangos, and a sudden disappearance, "Roland" discovers there's more to life when you "get a dog!" What was your first date with your husband? What were your initial thoughts after it? Trey and I did a show together, Sunset Boulevard at the Ogunquit Playhouse, in the summer of 2010. So we didn’t really have a first date, we just kinda were living and working together. We started as friends. The romance began about halfway through the five-week contract, and we did have one date near the end of the run where I thought "There is absolutely no way this is going to work." We’ve since talked about that date, and he was thinking the exact same thing!! I’m so glad we both gave it another chance.
7. What is something that suddenly disappeared from your life? I remember when my grandmother passed away when I was still pretty young. I was very close with her, and it was the first time I remember experiencing death and how someone is just suddenly gone. Grandma Winnie was awesome, and luckily my mother gave me her blessing to name our dog Winnie in her memory.
8. A Dog Story's by line is "Relationships are ruff." What has been the most challenging part of your relationship? How did you get through that ruff spot? The most challenging part was when I went on tour about three months into the relationship. Since we are both actors, we are often apart from each other for big stretches of time. Now, we can handle it pretty well, but distance is not great for a three-month-old relationship. That was a big turning point for us, because we were forced into the kind of honest communication that is necessary to sustain a relationship. Luckily, my tour got cancelled after about four months, or I don’t know if we would have made it through.
9. What do you love about originating a role as opposed to stepping into one/reviving one? The best thing about originating a role is to be working with the entire creative team on a show that is still evolving. It’s pretty cool to be in the room with the composer, who will say "Would this song be better for you in a different key?" That doesn’t typically happen when you step into a show that has already been published. It’s pretty amazing, also, to be part of the collaborative process. Since we are embodying our characters, it’s exciting to be able to question certain moments, which may lead to a rewrite that provides more clarity and therefore strengthens the piece. For better or worse, this show wouldn’t be this show if these particular actors had not been cast.
10. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? Time management! Like I said, I tend to be overscheduled. I love to work, and I am also very social. I have been better lately about making sure to have some downtime, but time management is definitely an area that I would love to improve upon.
David Perlman is thrilled to continue with A Dog Story, having originated the role of "Roland" at the Waterfront Playhouse in Key West. Broadway: Baby It's You! NY: Yank! (York Theatre), Anna Nicole the Opera (BAM), Madagascar Live! (Radio City Music Hall). Touring/Regional: "Motel" in Fiddler on the Roof (Goodspeed, PCLO, Arena Stage), "Woof" in Hair (European tour), "Calvin" in Calvin Berger (Barrington), "Sheldrake" in White Christmas (dir. Randy Skinner). TV: Mysteries of Laura, The Blacklist, 30 Rock, Law and Order.