My Las Vegas
Daniel R. Sullivan
As the bad boy in "Jersey Boys," Sullivan plays against character; the enthusiastic and passionate actor shares his thoughts on Vegas and performing.
Daniel R. Sullivan is a living example of the saying “enthusiasm is contagious.” An aficionado of theater, musicals and magic, he developed his love of the stage after his fifth-grade teacher cast him in his first play. Sullivan chronicled his journey through the “Jersey Boys” audition and rehearsal process in the book “Places, Please! (Becoming a Jersey Boy)" and is passionate about teaching theater students. The Amazon.com synopsis describes your book as the tale of a boyhood dream coming true. When did you first fall in love with performing? In the fifth grade, because of a great teacher I had, Mrs. King. She cast me in my first musical, where I played a role called Colonel Cuddly. I was a tin soldier in a toy shop. I’ll be forever indebted to her.
What were you like as a child? I was a little bit musical-theater nerd, I enjoyed learning about musicals and putting on my own shows. I would do magic shows, believe it or not. I was one of those cheesy performer kids. Now, it’s funny, because as dorky as things were back then for me, I’m playing the toughguy role. It was a surprise to me when I became an adult that I could be seen as the “tough guy.” I think in “Jersey Boys,” they like a tough guy with a smile, and that’s what got it for me.
What’s it like to play a bad boy? It’s so fulfilling. I think of it as “the guy you love to hate.” He’s a tough guy, but because he’s doing everything he believes is the right thing to do, and does it all with charm and a slick smile, that makes it really, really fun. I begin the show by talking to the audience for half an hour and things happen around me. That’s the part where I get to be charming. But playing the bad boy lets me be directly mean to everybody in the later parts of the show. I like that dichotomy. How long have you been with the Vegas show? I came in last November and have been enjoying it immensely ever since. It’s not the first time I’ve been to Vegas, but it’s the first time I’ve lived here, and I’ve discovered that Vegas is so much more than the Strip. I love this town! One, because it is very, very supportive of performers, and also because it’s situated in the mountains and the desert, so there’s a lot of outdoor stuff to do. I’ve been trying to do it all! What have been some of your favorite discoveries? I like to hike Mt. Charleston and finish up with dinner at the lodge up there. That’s probably my favorite thing. And the parks are great—the wetland park is my favorite park in Las Vegas. It’s a hidden gem. Also, taking a boat out on Lake Mead.
Other restaurants you like? Springs Preserve's [Divine Cafe] is one of my favorites. I like to sit outside on the gorgeous balcony overlooking the preserve. Then, of course, Capo’s Italian Speakeasy is my other favorite— if I want a dark, Italian, secretentrance type of restaurant. Kind of like where Tommy DeVito would go? Exactly. You have to have the password to get into that place.
What shows have you seen? When other shows have a latenight performance, I’m the first one there. KÀ is my favorite because it’s so spectacular, but I also have a standing date in the audience at The Bucket Show, which is a small improv comedy show that happens every Wednesday night—I think this improv comedy show is the greatest cheap thing to do in Las Vegas. It’s a tiny show at Arts Square downtown. It’s really great quality. Also, I’m a huge David Copperfield fan. I’ve seen him a number of times—I could go to see him every night.
Sullivan (third from left) in "Jersey Boys"
Sullivan as Tommy DeVito
Sullivan (far right)