Who the Folk?! Daniel Vinitsky

Daniel Vinitsky talks to us about being an actor in the Twin Cities and dishes about his upcoming show at the Gem Theater at the Sabes JCC, The Last Five Years.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in St. Louis Park. I went to HMJDS (Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School) from kindergarten through 8th grade. It was a great place to grow up. St. Louis Park is the perfect place because it’s still a suburb, but it’s close enough to the city to have easy access to the arts and other cool stuff in the city.

When did you get introduced to musical theater?

I actually got my start performing in musicals at the JCC. I started doing shows there when I was 12. I loved that experience so I began taking weekly voice lessons at MacPhail when I was 16. I got really into the musical theater program there.

Your grandfather, Shalom Markovits, was a well-known cantor in town. Was he the source of your musical inspiration?

Actually, no; it’s completely a coincidence. Or maybe musical aptitude runs in the family! I never really knew how well-known he was until after he passed away. People always tell me stories about him.

What’s this we hear about your studying opera in Italy?

It’s true. My college degree was a classical, opera-based program. I had the opportunity to study opera intensively in a program in Novafeltria, Italy that was run by a couple of Wisconsin professors. It was pretty amazing; we did a full opera. It was a huge experience for me, one of the best five weeks of my life. But even though it was an unforgettable experience, it also made me realize that my heart was more devoted to musical theater. I love singing classically, but the material of musical theater appeals to me so much more than operas do.

Tell us about your upcoming show, The Last Five Years, at the Sabes JCC. 

The show is a musical about the ebb and flow of an intimate relationship. A love story. It’s cleverly told so that each character relates the story on a separate timeline. The thing that will draw people into this show is how deeply relatable the narrative is. Most people have been in that place where they’ve had a close relationship that has fallen apart at some point. Or they’ve certainly experienced the excitement that comes with the buildup of a new relationship, that moment when you know you’ve met someone special. In this show you get to see how each stage of the relationship evolves. The depth to which that is explored makes it very unique, powerful, and emotional. It is such a focused story; there are just two characters and every single song is about their relationship, so it’s able to explore the subject in a very profound and vivid way.

You’ve been in a lot of shows around town lately!

Yes. I’ve been so lucky to find nearly continuous work in Twin Cities theater since I graduated. It’s an amazing theater community here.

What is your dream role to play?

There are a lot of them, but one of my biggest dream roles would have to be Sweeney Todd.

What’s your favorite Jewish food?

It’s a tie between matzah ball soup and knishes. I could eat those forever and I would be happy.

What’s your favorite Jewish holiday?

I think it has to be Hanukkah. It’s so festive, and it’s fun to be able to have something joyful like that to celebrate this time of year.

The Last Five Years plays on December 11, 12, and 13 at the Gem Theater at the Sabes JCC. For tickets and information, visit sabesjcc.org.

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