Forever Dashing and Debonair, David Engel is Crushin’ It!

By Kimberly Dijkstra

Known on stage and screen, David Engel last year celebrated his 40th year with Actors’ Equity. He started out as a dancer and primarily does theater, plus some television and film along the way. You can spot him as one of the football players in “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.”

Engel grew up in California, moved to New York in 1982, and got the first role he ever auditioned for – in “La Cage aux Folles,” which he stayed with for the entire 4-year run. He went on to have another successful run as Smudge in “Forever Plaid,” the show that Engel says changed his life. Engel met his husband, Larry Raben, during “Plaid” and since they both have authorship in the show, they have remained involved in its many incarnations throughout the years.

A production of “Singin’ In the Rain” turned Engel into a leading man and started him off on a string of song-and-dance-man roles, many at regional theaters putting on Broadway-caliber shows.

One of Engel’s favorite roles is playing Gomez in “The Addams Family” musical, which he’s done several times. He’s also enjoyed performing in “Mary Poppins,” “Mamma Mia,” “Kiss Me, Kate,” and many others.

“I love a show where it has some real depth and real heart to it,” he said. “I love doing high comedy and it’s great when it actually has heart.”

In 2014, Engel did the two-hander “Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks” at the Laguna Playhouse with Leslie Caron, the iconic actress from the golden age of MGM musicals.

“I was MGM musical obsessed as a kid – it’s what led me into theater,” Engel explained. “No one could have told me as a 15-year-old kid that I would ever be doing that. It was a phenomenal experience.”

Caron has notably danced with the greats Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Mikhail Barishnakov, and Rudolf Nureyev. At a Q&A event during the run of “Six Dance Lessons” she explained to an audience member that Fred Astaire would take her in his arms and dance her, as if she had no choice but to go along with him.

“She pointed me out in the back of the theater and said, ‘dancing with David Engel is just like dancing with Fred Astaire,’” he said. “That was such a huge compliment to me and one of the greatest experiences of my career.”

Both Engel and Raben had light cases of COVID-19 over Thanksgiving. They rode out the bulk of the pandemic in a little beach cottage near Long Beach, CA.

The duo is like family at Musical Theater West, having each done about 15 shows there. To help the theater survive the pandemic, as well as stay visible and productive, they created The Green Room with David and Larry, a variety show that streamed live online once a week for 5 months.

One fan asked about a “Forever Plaid” reunion right before the 30th anniversary of the show opening Off-Broadway happened to be coming up. The reunion special caught the eye of a producer who suggested a reunion concert. Engel, Raben, and the original cast got together for three nights at the Ventura County Fairgrounds for a rocking “Plaidiversary.”

Engel used his video editing skills, which he’s always done as a side hobby, to edit the footage into a phenomenal concert video and subsequently sold it to dozens of theaters to offer to their patrons as online content, with plans for a wider release.

Engel said, “That’s where I’m putting all my energy now,” as well as into more live, outdoor “Plaid” concerts that are lined up.

Of everything he’s done in his successful career, Engel says “Forever Plaid” is nearest and dearest to his heart.

Both Engel and Raben are all vaxxed up and ready to get back to work. As the pandemic winds down, Engel is looking forward to interacting with his colleagues again.

“The thing I miss the most is backstage. I love the dynamic that happens backstage,” he said. “I keep my dressing room door open as much as possible because I love to be with everybody and I love the energy that happens before and even during the show because no night is the same.”

He’s also looking forward to auditioning for roles again, even though he knows the competition will be stiff with every actor clamoring to work again.

“It’s really tough to survive in this business, but I have been very lucky,” Engel said. “The business has been very good to me.”

 

Actor Profiles - Most Recent Additions 2

Gina Milo - Actor Profile

Gina is a Long Island born, actor/singer based in New York City. She most recently appeared as Martha Vail in the York Theater's Mufti production of Subways are for Sleeping and Tanya in Mason Street's production of Mamma

New York, New York
View details
Eddie Gutierrez - actor profile

Eddie attended NYU for acting, training at the Stella Adler Studio and the Experimental Theatre Wing, and while he was there, he picked up a minor in Music, while also enrolling in the dance program at Peridance in Union Square.

Carina Avila - Actor Profile

Meet Carina Avila got her start in Los Angeles working on TV and music videos. She is now focused on transferring her early success to the theatre.

New York, New York
View details
Cait Crowley - Actor Profile

Cait is a New York City based actor, dancer and singer who was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She graduated with a BFA in Musical Theatre from Montclair State University.

New York, New York
View details
Richard LaFleur - Actor Profile

Richard Lafleur is a Canadian born actor, singer, dancer, and aspiring writer.

Montreal, Quebec
View details
Lance E. Hayes - Actor Profile

Lance is currently a working actor out of New York City, and is loving every minute.

New York, New York
View details
Monica Cioffi - Actor Profile

Get To Know Dancer / Actor Monica Cioffi backstage at The Gateway Playhouse in Bellport, NY

Jason Simon - Actor Profile

At a petite 6'3", Jason Simon is a presence!

Equity Theatres - Most Recent Additions

11th Hour Theatre Company

11th Hour's mission is to have an enduring impact on their community by producing musical works of theatre. They use the expertise of industry leaders and up-and-coming artists to create an…

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
View details
Actors Theatre of Indiana

Actors Theatre of Indiana’s mission is to celebrate the power of theatre and contribute to life in Central Indiana by offering high quality professional theatre performances and programs that engage, inspire, educate and entertain.

Carmel, Indiana
View details
Moonlight Stage Productions

Moonlight Stage Productions has been producing musical theatre for the enjoyment of audiences from throughout Southern California and beyond for 36 years. The cultural arts program of the…

Vista, California
View details
University of North Alabama

This is a truly incredible time to be a part of the UNA Theatre Program. We are entering a new era in the program's continuing development and big opportunities are presenting themselves at…

Florence, Alabama
View details
Hartford Stage Company Inc.

One of the nation’s leading resident theatres, Hartford Stage is known for producing innovative revivals of classics and provocative new plays and musicals, including 73 world and American premieres

Hartford, Connecticut
View details
Totem Pole Playhouse

 

Longtime summer theater venue presenting comedies, dramas & musicals with subscriptions available.

Fayetteville, Pennsylvania
View details
Shadow Lawn Stage

Shadow Lawn Stage is the professional Equity theater of Monmouth University, whose goal is to present the best of past and present plays and musicals for the Jersey Shore. As a professional…

West Long Branch, New Jersey
View details
Theatre Three Inc

Theatre Three produces a wide variety of literature for the stage so that our understanding of the human condition is expanded. Theatre Three strives to illuminate the ideas and emotions…

Dallas, Texas
View details
© 2022 Islip.TV LLC / The National VJ Network. All rights reserved.

Search