Keola Simpson chats with LALF Alums Jon Infante, Daniel Wolfe, Dennis Dunnigan.
Dennis Dunnigan (cast): La Mirada, CA
Daniel Wolfe (acting coach, cast): Luton Town, UK
Jon Infante (director): Fullerton, CA
What did you want to be when you grow up?
DD: an actor
DW: a snooker player (basically big ass billiards)
JI: Fighter Pilot
Maverick or Ice Man?
Jon wins. What’re ya listening to on repeat these days, Jon?
Hows that LA sunshine treating you these days, Daniel? Missing that NYC chill?
DW: Absolutely, I miss that crispness NYC has. The weather is wonderful out here, don’t get me wrong, but it’s always wonderful.
Alright boys, we started L.A. Lights fire 4 years ago. What do you remember from that time?
DD: Doing LALF in CA in front of a CA audience, I remember thinking that the audience was either going to LOVE IT or NOT GET IT. And those that did not get it would be offended by it.
JI: I remember the excitement of staging a new piece. The anxious energy of directing three friends with so much talent to wrangle. The head butting and fighting for each moment to be perfect. The shared vision of something so simple to be so powerful. And the bond that will keep us all friends for life.
There are only a few people outside of the room that knew about the in fighting we had. We kept it close.
JI: It’s the piece that only few have witnessed in our process but once they witness it they understand why we are able to do what we do.
DW: I remember the feeling of having to prove something. All of us. A homecoming of theatre. We were on leave from our time in the trenches of NYC and wanted to prove that it had made us men, but not hardened us. For you guys it literally was a homecoming, so you had to show up and that was a hard task. I needed to be hard on you guys but not break you. Ego was strong but for the exact same reason we use it… as a defense. It didn’t take long to be rid of it. It was a difficult time for us for different reasons, so I used that to break your walls down. Strip away the callous of NYC life and figure out what each character needed— but actually, in a strange turn of events… we needed the characters from L.A. Lights Fire. They’re alive. They didn’t need us. We needed them.
Be honest… the response we got, those reactions, the standing O’s… they surprise you?
DD: I was a little shocked at the response we got. I think going into it we can all agree that we weren’t sure that people were going to like it. But we knew at that point there was no turning back and we were either going to be a big hit or a big failure. And looking back I enjoyed that feeling of not knowing what was in store for us. It made the end result very special in my eyes. I hold that experience very close to my heart.
JI: To be fair we were playing with a loaded deck: Years of experience
And egos the size of the nachos at Heroes.
Daniel, Dennis… L.A. Lights Fire retired you from stage acting 4 years ago—
DD: Yes. For now…
It’s about to do the same to me. What do I have to look forward to? Is post theatre life really all palm trees and kale salads? Do they just hand out sitcoms at LAX when I arrive?
DW: It’s not gonna be all sunshine straight away. There’s a mourning process. But once you say goodbye, you start to see the beauty of other forms of acting. I suggest you do too. Nix from the flames experienced from the last LALF… make sure you burn in the cleansing fire. Come to LA brand spanking new and we’ll eat Kale and juice together… like sitcoms!
What’s next for you? The next passion/challenge?
JI: A Tony. For projection design. For a new musical.
And you have a new teammate to chase that Tony with. Hows the first 3 months of married life been?
JI: Lovely. She’s also on tour with me at the moment as my ASM. I’ve been offered my next contract as head of video for Dreamgirls which tours Tokyo next year and hopefully she’ll be with me.
DD: I’m a writer now. My passion is still to entertain and I can do that strictly with paper and ink. Currently working on a second novel and a book of short stories all connected to the town Fullerton, CA.
DW: I have to say I’m probably not retired from the stage but I am curious to see who will show up next time I tread the boards.
That’s a wrap boys. See you at the finish line!