STEINBERG BROTHERS TAKE THE STAGE: Robbie and Danny Steinberg of Stoughton have followed their dreams, and they led to the same places - Thayer Academy, Brandeis University, and the stages at both schools.
Robbie is a senior at Brandeis, while Danny is a sophomore there.
Nancy Steinberg, their mom, told About Town that both were interested in theater from a young age, but when they arrived at Thayer Academy it just took off. She tells me, "Music and theater became a significant part of their lives. Thayer has a tremendous performing arts program that we had the pleasure of watching grow over the years."
In the Fall of 2008, Thayer completed their new state-of-the-art Center for the Arts, just in time for an inaugural concert featuring Aerosmith's frontman, Steven Tyler. Nancy said that Robbie spent every weekend, and Danny most weekends, working with Brooks Donnelly, a Stoughton resident - and Thayer teacher, coach, and technical director - installing the lights in the new theatre.
Robbie started his theater career at Thayer on stage, but soon realized his passion was behind the scenes. Donnelly saw Robbie's interest and worked with him over the years, teaching him about lighting, sound, set-building, and all the great things that go on behind the scenes, before, during, and after the action takes place on stage.
Danny's interest was more for the on-stage work, but like all thespians, he discovered that everyone is expected to learn what goes on behind the stage, and to lend a hand with things like set building. Danny would regularly help in that regard, even after he graduated. They both participated in something known as "strike", which is taking the set apart, after every show they did.
When Robbie arrived at Brandeis University, he discovered that his technical knowledge was a great foundation for becoming involved in the Undergraduate Theatre Collection (UTC), a student run, theater performance group on campus. Now, Robbie and Danny are currently both involved in UTC productions. Robbie is behind the scenes designing the lighting to put the actors in their best light, and Danny is in the spotlight, singing and dancing.
Robbie just completed his latest work, as lighting designer on a production of "Metamorphoses," which finished its run on October 28. Now, Robbie is lighting designer for the production of "Bat Boy: The Musical", which runs from November 8-11 at Brandeis. Danny plays Dr. Parker in the musical, which was inspired by a Weekly World News 1992 story about Bat Boy, a half-boy, half-bat found living in a cave.
It inspired writers Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming to write a stage adaptation. They were joined by American composer/lyricist Laurence O'Keefe and their first production premiered on Halloween, 1997.
Donnelly said that right after the new performing arts center at Thayer was built, Robbie became a huge part of the beginnings of the program. "He helped build the lighting, and asked a lot of questions. He helped put up over 200 lights, and learned to know exactly what each did. When he was a senior, he did the lighting for us. When he got to Brandeis, he did their lighting. He was my right hand man. He's very talented," he told About Town.
As for Danny, "He was the younger brother for awhile that got roped into hanging out. He was interested in putting stuff together, as far as lights and the sets. But, he found it much more fun to be on stage. He developed his singing and dancing talents and went onto Brandeis. In his first year there, he had parts in their productions."
Donnelly added that, "Both were a big part of our theater programs in lots of different ways. They were there since the beginning and made it work."
He explained that on the old stage, there was no room for building. So, five years ago, when the new building came, they were able to take their productions to a higher level. Brooks, who is in his tenth year at Thayer, said that Robbie has truly excelled at lighting, "far more so than anyone I've ever worked with. He's taken on an understanding of the principles of lighting, of why it works or doesn't work. He's a real student of lighting, and I haven't had anyone else like that in my time."
As for the Steinberg brothers, Donnelly told me, "You couldn't ask for two more responsible and capable kids in terms of stepping up and being there. Just great kids."
In an interview, Robbie said that he plans to continue keeping his hand in theater after graduation. Could he make it a career?
"I want to continue this in my life after college, even if it’s only part-time or volunteer work like community theater. If I get to the point where I think I can make enough money from this to be successful, I would consider making this into a career. Right now, I just want it to stay a part of my life for many more years to come, " he told me.
As someone once said, “Theater is life. Film is art. Television is furniture." Stoughton is proud of both these young men.