The Book of Mor­mon

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When the road tour of “The Book of Mor­mon” vis­its the Broward Cen­ter for the Per­form­ing Arts Tues­day through Feb. 7, it will be a sort of home­com­ing for David Aron Da­mane.

That’s be­cause Da­mane, who plays the Broad­way show’s vil­lain the Gen­eral, hasn’t re­ally left South Florida since he grad­u­ated from the Univer­sity of Mi­ami in the early ’90s.

“I’m down there pretty of­ten,” Da­mane says dur­ing a tele­phone in­ter­view while the mu­si­cal-com­edy played At­lanta. “Slowly but surely, my fam­ily is mov­ing down there from New Jersey. They’re in Palm Beach Gar­dens, and I have an un­cle in Co­ral Gables.”

The 41-year-old has ap­peared on Broad­way in “The Life,” “Porgy and Bess,” “Don’t Dress for Din­ner” and “The Book of Mor­mon.”

“I started in ‘The Book of Mor­mon’ on Broad­way in June of 2012,” he says. “And then, that De­cem­ber, I started the na­tional tour. I’ve done this show for 3 1⁄ years.

2 It’s the long­est time I’ve been in a show.”

A satire and a send-up as well as an homage to the power of a religious story, “The Book of Mor­mon” fol­lows Mor­mon mis­sion­ar­ies, El­ders Price and Cun­ning­ham, as they travel to Africa. Price has a cri­sis of faith af­ter his con­fronta­tion with the Gen­eral, and Cun­ning­ham re­fash­ions the liturgy with dashes of pop cul­ture to win over con­verts.

“The thing that most peo­ple don’t re­al­ize is that [the Gen­eral] is based on a real per­son, even his re­demp­tion,” Da­mane says. “Most peo­ple have no idea. There re­ally was a Gen­eral Butt Naked [real name: Joshua Mil­ton Blahyi]. Al­most noth­ing in this show is made up. Eighty to 90 per­cent of this show is ab­so­lutely true.”

Here’s more about Da­mane.

you end up at the Univer­sity of Mi­ami?

un­cle went there in the late ’70s, early ’80s. I re­mem­ber vis­it­ing as a kid. I thought, “This is cool.” I had never been to South Florida be­fore. Any­way, I was a pre-med ma­jor in high school. So when I was go­ing to ap­ply to col­leges, I kind of al­ready knew about UM and Jack­son Me­mo­rial [Hos­pi­tal]. So I thought, “Well, UM I love.” Of course, I got there, and I took an act­ing class as an elec­tive and that was it.

never did any per­form­ing be­fore? Not even in high school?

was in cho­rus. I re­mem­ber I was, like, singing in the hall­way on my way to class and this teacher popped out of a room and said, “You’re in cho­rus.” I was in­her­ently shy, and I skipped a few grades in school, so I was a year or two younger than ev­ery­one else. I used to play sick when­ever we had con­certs. I was so anti get­ting in front of peo­ple. So the stage was the fur­thest thing from my mind. Then, I took act­ing. I took classes at Mi­ami Dade Col­lege with Bar­bara Low­ery. She is re­ally the one who stoked my fire to be an ac­tor. I fin­ished ev­ery­thing in 3 1⁄ years. I

2 grad­u­ated from UM with a ma­jor in drama.


did you live at the

first year I lived on cam­pus. Then, my grand­par­ents started spend­ing win­ters down there. My father started buy­ing a few con­do­mini­ums in North Mi­ami Beach. I stayed in one of them, a one-bed­room one.

is your fa­vorite part of “The Book of Mor­mon”?

do a lot of off­stage singing. We have a mon­i­tor on our con­duc­tor and one on the side of the stage. In the process of see­ing the con­duc­tor, de­pend­ing on what city we’re in, we can see the peo­ple be­hind him in the au­di­ence. I’d say we can see about six peo­ple wide and about three or four rows back. So we’re al­ways won­der­ing what kind of peo­ple are in the front row to­day. We all love it. We make up back sto­ries for the peo­ple. We try to fig­ure out who’s to­gether and who got dragged here. … When you’re in a show, you for­get how won­der­ful the show is, how good the show is. So that’s the clos­est we get to en­joy­ing it. We watch it in their eyes. I find my­self smil­ing and not even know­ing it. I saw [the show] 14 times. “Turn It Off” is al­ways my fa­vorite num­ber. It’s mag­i­cal. But you for­get it when you’re in the show. And then, you see it in their

When: Tues­day through Where: Broward Cen­ter for the Per­form­ing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., in Fort Laud­erdale. Show­times are 8 p.m. Tues­days-Satur­days and 6:30 p.m. Sun­days, with mati­nees 2 p.m. Satur­days and 1 p.m. Sun­days. Cost: $40-$175 Con­tact: call 954-462-0222 or go to BrowardCen­ eyes, and there it is. NowI re­mem­ber.

done a lot of TV, but you’re trained for the stage. What switch do you have to flick in your mind for the dif­fer­ence?

re­ally have to make a con­scious de­ci­sion, es­pe­cially if you do a lot of stage work, to bring it down a bit. And in­vari­ably when a film star does stage, they have to be told to build it up more be­cause they don’t read past the fourth row. When you see some­one act­ing on a film set, it looks like they’re do­ing noth­ing. You have to let your eyes do the work. On the stage, it’s so big, and that’s the op­po­site of what you have with film and TV. It looks so nor­mal. It’s such a minute art form. It’s such an in­ti­mate art form. A twitch of an eye­brow can tell your en­tire story, so you have to be very care­ful, very eco­nom­i­cal. It’s al­most sci­en­tific when you choose to do that.

My first TV gig was “All My Chil­dren.” I re­mem­ber do­ing my scenes and then watch­ing the other guys work, and I’m watch­ing with hor­ror be­cause I re­al­ized that I was do­ing way too much. And I was think­ing, “Why didn’t any­one tell me?” I’m 6-foot-2, so not only was I big­ger than ev­ery­one else, I was act­ing big­ger than ev­ery­one else. But one thing I learned right away was that most ac­tors don’t blink, and when they do blink, it means some­thing.


The na­tional tour­ing com­pany of “The Book of Mor­mon” will ap­pear Tues­day through Feb. 7 at the Broward Cen­ter for the Per­form­ing Arts. UM grad David Aron Da­mane, below, plays the Gen­eral. Feb. 7


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