“Evocative and exciting … a musical voice that commands attention” – Martin Denton, NYTheatre.com
“Mr. Ashkenasi’s music [has] dimensionality and touches of poignancy” – Jeremy Eichler, New York Times
Danny Ashkenasi has been acting professionally since the age of ten and composing musical works that have been publicly produced since the age of fourteen. In pursuing these arts, he has also developed his expertise as a writer, singer, director, producer and teaching artist. In recent years he has focused on creating and performing musical works that highlight the American experience, by adapting American literary masters and focusing on pertinent American historical and social themes.
Danny Ashkenasi just completed his first film project, the short film of his theatrical Poe adaptation “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre“, for which he wrote the screenplay, produced, directed and performed the role of the narrator. So far the film has won over 50 awards.
Recent musical writing projects include “Speakeasy – John and Jane’s Adventures in the Wonderland” which explores the little known Queer culture of Prohibition era New York City; and “Feedstore Quartet” (Book and co-lyricist: Jack Hilton Cunningham) set in 1950’s Mississippi. Danny adapted over 60 Langston Hughes’ poems in a full length musical revue called “I Too Sing America – The Blues According to Langston Hughes”, which was performed at the 2011 Harlem Renaissance Festival at the Metropolitan Playhouse, New York. Danny performed in his musical adaptation of Herman Melville’s “Cock-a-Doodle-Doo!” at the Metropolitan Playhouse and FringeNYC 2009. He also performed in “beTwixt, beTween & beTWAIN“, a Mark Twain Musical Comedy he wrote and composed, which played at The Producer’s Club May 16-June 8, 2008 and also had a special performance at the Westport Library in CN.
Danny Ashkenasi is an American citizen who was born and raised in Berlin, Germany. Consequently he also acts and has musical compositions produced in that country, including the musical “Wir Pfeifen auf den Gurkenkoenig” (text: Peter Lund), which had a long run in Berlin, “Once Upon A Frog /Es war einmal ein Frosch”, which was performed in English in Berlin, and recently enjoyed its German language premiere (translated by Danny Ashkenasi) at the Wetzlarer Festpiele; and “Hexen” (text: P. Lund), which has enjoyed dozens of productions throughout Germany, three alone in Berlin, including at the Deutsche Oper, as well as Austria and Finland (The English adaptation “Witches”, translated by Danny Ashkenasi, has been performed twice in New York.). He is the only composer twice invited as a finalist to the Hamburg Musical Festival.
Other US works includes “The Song of Job 9:11” (Text: D. Ashkenasi), performed in concert in New York numerous times since 2002, and produced theatrically at the FringeNYC Festival in 2004; and the chamber opera “Jenseits” (Text: Helga Krauss), produced as “Beyond” at the Village Temple and at the FringeNYC Festival 2005, both directed by Mr. Ashkenasi. He also composed a musicalisation (or “musicabre”) of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart“, which he performed (accompanied/surrounded by three cellos) at the Metropolitan Playhouse’s Poe festival and the 2006 FringeNYC Festival, where he won the FringeNYC award for “Outstanding Music and Lyrics”, and which was also produced by the TrypTych Concert and Opera in Toronto. Other musical works produced in New York include “When Thou, My Music, Music Play’st” (Text: W. Shakespeare, adapted from his Sonnets), “Lucky Hans” (Text: Margie Duffield) and “Les Artistes” (Text: Greg Steinbrunar). He has also composed several one-act musicals for the Berkshire Ensemble for Theatre Arts and the International Schools Theatre Association England Summer Program. Chamber music compositions of his include Evocations I – XXIV for Viola and Piano, Aphorisms for Mezzo Soprano and Trumpet, and the Spree Forest Suite for Flute and Harp, which was recorded by the Duo Elysee.
Additional acting credits include Off- and Off-Off Broadway, regional theater and tours, and theater, TV and film in Germany.
Go here for Notes on Myself, a short post on Danny Ashkenasi’s thoughts on being a composer.