The fabulous life of Michael Dunn and Kurt Domoney
by Donalevan Maine
The show was Urinetown: The Musical. The town was Rochester, New York. Across a crowded room, Michael Brian Dunn, playing Mr. McQueen, saw a stranger, Kurt Domoney, cast as Billy Boy Bill.
Who can explain it? Who can tell you why? When two lovers woo, they still say, “I love you.”
Within a year, Dunn and Domoney built a nest in Manhattan. Five years later, the couple just spent a Thanksgiving in Houston. They’re here rehearsing
Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, which Theatre Under the Stars presents December 6–18 at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.
It isn’t often that the couple appears in the same show, and many times their jobs take them away from New York City. (In September, Domoney was here on his own when he appeared in the TUTS season-opener Guys and Dolls.)
But, he says, “We always manage to be together on Christmas Day.”
This year, they plan to visit his folks in Denver and Dunn’s family in Utica, New York, before getting home by December 25.
Dunn grew up in Utica, the seventh of 10 children. “They say the national average is 1 out of 10 people are gay. I’m the national statistic,” he says. “Music and theater was my means of expressing myself. It was the release that I found—not through sports or good grades in school.”
Dunn experienced “the awakening of my artistic soul” at The Boston Conservatory. Upon graduation, he headed to New York and landed on Broadway within a year. The show was Baby (1983), which he later performed at TUTS in Houston, playing Danny opposite the original Tony and Maria (Larry Kert and Carol Lawrence) in West Side Story.
Meanwhile, Domoney was growing up in Denver, studying voice, tap dance, and ballet from an early age, and making his professional debut at 16.
While Dunn “didn’t see any other student auditioning” when he applied for The Boston Conservatory, Domoney competed among 1,200 applicants for acceptance into the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. There, he trained to become a triple-threat singer/dancer/actor.
Next, he moved to New York, acing his first audition to win a role in a new off-Broadway musical, The Naughty Knight (2001).
Domoney debuted on Broadway as Don in the 2006 revival of A Chorus Line that Mario Lopez joined in 2008.
He’s also a dance/song interpretation coach for Musical Theatre College Auditions (mtcollegeauditions.com), which prepares high school kids for college musical theater and acting program auditions. Today, he explains, about 3,000 students advance to the auditions at his alma mater in Cincinnati.
“The numbers are increasing every year,” he says. “I love teaching kids who are dedicated to the process of creating versus the product. On reality shows, all you see is product; you never see them rehearse. You miss the blood, sweat, and tears, the “What-I-Did-for-Love” part, the process, which is the really important thing.”
“He’s the best acting coach,” says Dunn.
Over the course of three seasons, Domoney has performed in more than 10 productions with Sacramento Music Circus, and he’s been in TUTS productions of West Side Story, Guys and Dolls, and Anything Goes. This marks his third appearance in the ensemble of White Christmas.
Dunn, who plays ex-soldier Ralph Sheldrake, has performed on Broadway in The Life, Cats, Guys and Dolls, Big River, Sweeney Todd, and Baby, and he’s worked at the prestigious Stratford Festival Canada.
Most famously, he played Ivan Cousins, who catches the eye of Jane Lynch’s character across a crowded room, and marries her in the movie Julie & Julia.
“That was one of the most exciting things, and so rewarding,” he says. “Meryl Streep, Jane Lynch, Stanley Tucci, directed by Nora Ephron. The level of people you’re working with—such high caliber. Of course, the whole time I was joined at the hip with Jane Lynch, who is such an incredible, generous spirit.”
Dunn has also acted on TV dramas, which he says are filmed quickly enough to make one’s head spin. “You better know your lines backward, forward, sideways, and in seven languages.”
Irving Berlin’s White Christmas was inspired by the festive 1954 holiday film-favorite starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen. (Did I mention the movie was directed by Michael Curtiz, who also directed Casablanca?) Among the musical’s hit songs are “Blue Skies,” “Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep),” “Sisters,” “The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing,” and the Oscar-winning title tune, “White Christmas.”
For ticket information, call 713/558-TUTS(8887) or visit tuts.com.
Donalevan Maines is a regular contributor to OutSmart magazine.