By Peter Barell
Arts & Entertainment Editor
The Rifle Range Theatre on campus is staging readings of excerpts from Musical Theatre student Ion Constantine’s “Daniel: An Ordinary Tragedy.” Dates include Nov. 22 and 23 at 7:30 p.m., and Nov. 24 at a 3:00 p.m. matinee. Constantine, the pen name of Paulie Pecorella, is joined by LIU Post Professor David Hugo for further direction and advisory of the production. Constantine and Hugo’s work together began as a chance encounter.
“I heard [Constantine] playing [piano] in a room one day,” said Hugo. “At the time, I was directing ‘Cabaret’ and we needed a pianist. He’s a great musician – I actually thought he was someone else. I thought he was staff here, that he worked here as a pianist.”
The two began to work together, and soon enough Constantine introduced Hugo to his own writing. “I was really inspired by his work,” continued Hugo. “Since he helped me out last year, I figured that supervising his production would be a way of paying him back.”
The story of “Daniel” centers on the titular character: a young gay man on a journey of self-discovery, seeking fulfillment through his relationships with others. With a deep existential dependence on his romantic relationships, he seeks validation.
Daniel meets three different men – each of whom offers elements of what would compose the ideal relationship. But none of them are perfect, as Daniel finds out, and his attempts at finding the romanticized ideal of a lover prevent him from realizing those who actually love him.
“He feels incomplete because he’s not in a relationship,” said Constantine. “And he finds that one man, or one person, cannot fulfill the things that make someone complete.”
This problem of identity is one of several ongoing conflicts for Daniel. His mother is an alcoholic, and he grows apart from his closest friends as he becomes increasingly consumed with filling the gap he feels is keeping him from being happy. “He’s this guy who’s looking for validation through love,” noted Hugo.
“I feel like he’s very misunderstood,” said Cody L Petit, who plays Daniel. “The way that I like to describe him [is] he’s very eager to show his feelings and be emotional.” Like Constantine, Petit is a sophomore studying Musical Theater.
The production of “Daniel” stretches back several years. In junior year of high school, Constantine began transposing some of his real life into a story, eventually incorporating his musical talent. “It was just an outlet to have fun, make some scenes and character names, and then it developed and I began writing songs to it.”
At the end of his senior year, Constantine was accompanied by his writing partner, Amar Benkhoukha, in further developing “Daniel.” This past summer, “Daniel” was featured in the American Academy for New Musical Theater for their Stages New Musical Theater Festival in Los Angeles. “Then I applied it to [LIU Post] at the Rifle Range Theater Lab for the season. It was picked up and it’s been a work in progress since,” he continued.
While he did recently compose for the student production of “Marat/Sade” at the Little Theatre, Constantine has placed most of his efforts in the continued development of “Daniel.” “It was just applied to the New Musical Theater in New York for the Spring,” he said. “Hopefully it will get accepted and be able to be produced there as a full production.”
For information visit www.liu.edu/cwpost/ptc. For tickets, call the Little Theatre Box Office at 516-299-2356