Dana Steingold said the key to success for a small Broadway ensemble like “The Cottage” is to spend a lot of time together as a cast.
“Luckily, we have a very silly and warm group of people and we all took to each other very quickly,” Steingold said ahead of the show’s debut on July 24th.
When not on stage, Steingold and her costars -- Eric McCormack, Laura Bell Bundy, Lilli Cooper, Nehal Joshi and Alex Moffat – can be found around the Theater District together at spots like Marseille, The Long Room, Un Deux Trois and the Friki Tiki.
The romantic comedy, which is directed by Jason Alexander, is set in the English countryside in 1923 and centers around a woman who decides to expose her affair to both her husband and her lover’s wife.
Steingold, a Michigan native-turned-Lower East Sider, began tap dancing and getting roles in community theater at a young age. That led her to attend Stagedoor Manor, a theater camp in the Catskills, whose alumni include Natalie Portman, Robert Downey Jr. and Lea Michele, and that’s where she realized that performing could be her future career.
Steingold first moved to New York when she was 18-years-old to attend NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. There, Steingold studied musical theater, which she said gave her a head start on understanding the energy of the city and taking up the many opportunities to see theater here.
In 2019, Steingold originated the role of Girl Scout in “Beetlejuice” on Broadway and still has the support of its loyal fan base. One “Beetlejuice” fan recently sent the actress 50 packages of a particular chip from Michigan to the Hayes Theater since she mentioned on her Instagram story years ago that she loved them.
When did you know you would pursue acting professionally?
I was always a really rambunctious child and I was constantly performing for anybody who would watch or listen to me. So my parents did what normal parents would do if you have a kid like that and they put me in tap class. When I was about 7, a friend asked if I could tag along to a local theater production and I did and I ended up getting [a role in] it and from there it just sort of spiraled and I started doing a lot of community theater. And eventually I made my way to a summer camp called Stagedoor Manor in the Catskills and that was where I realized this could really be a career and a real thing that I could do.
What was your experience like at NYU?
I loved it. I was contemplating between going to Michigan, Carnegie Melon. And I think my parents felt like I always wanted to be in New York, so I may as well just go. For me, it was the best experience ever because I got a head start on understanding the city and the energy of the city and I got to be exposed to so much theater.
What is the atmosphere like backstage with the cast and crew of “The Cottage”?
It’s a very theater thing, you build a family super quickly. But I think small ensemble pieces really make that happen because you have to trust each other right away. The only way to do something like this is to really have each other’s backs on stage because things go wrong constantly and you have to know that someone’s going to pick up the slack.
Do you ever socialize outside of work?
We do hang out a lot. I think in a show like this also part of building that ensemble is spending a lot of time with each other off stage as well and really knowing each other.
Did you know Jason prior and are you a “Seinfeld” fan?
I did watch it growing up, but I think I probably appreciate it more now honestly having lived in New York for 20 years and being an adult and having that perspective. But I certainly knew who he was and know of all the famous episodes. It’s a privilege to work with somebody who has such a pedigree in theater and television. Comedically, obviously, he always has really great ideas to throw at you when you’re stuck or a small tweak to make it even funnier. It’s always nice to be directed by somebody who’s been an actor and in your shoes too because they have a different point of view.
Especially since you were in “Beetlejuice,” have you gotten any interesting or memorable gifts from fans?
“Beetlejuice” is sort of its own thing. We had this amazing, amazing fandom that was so in love with the show. We had a girl at the center of the show. It’s not a love interest, it’s not about even a friendship. It’s just a girl who wants to be seen for going through really rough things. So it attracts a lot of people who relate to that story. Fan art was the big thing. Some of it we sent to the Museum of Broadway, but I kept some of the really cool ones. I once mentioned I loved these chips from Michigan, so someone sent 50 of them to the Hayes Theater. I mentioned it on my Instagram story years ago, so this amazing fan started sending them to the theater. I have Celiac, so people have sent gluten-free things.
What are your future plans and what are some dream roles you’d like to play on Broadway?
To take a nice nap after the hours we’re keeping right now. And to catch up on some television and spend some time with my husband. As far as dream roles, I always hesitate to say anything because I feel like it’s something I’ll create. I didn’t see “Beetlejuice” coming. I certainly didn’t see “The Cottage” coming. So, for me, the excitement is creating something from scratch and figuring out what it is on my own.
To learn more, visit www.thecottageonbroadway.com