A leading man on regional stages and an ensemble player on Broadway, Daniel Cooney has been juggling two new roles this fall. Professionally, he has a role—several of them, actually—in the Bonnie & Clyde musical. The other new role is personal: Cooney, 44, became a father for the first time when his son, Gavin, was born on Sept. 29.
Bonnie & Clyde opened Dec. 1 to mostly negative reviews and has already announced it will close on Dec. 30. That, unfortunately, makes two Broadway flops in a row for Cooney: His last show on Broadway was 9 to 5, which was poorly received by critics and closed after four months in mid-2009.
“It’s just the business,” shrugs Cooney, who says that such experiences reaffirm rather than diminish his commitment to a life in the theater. He was involved in both Bonnie & Clyde and 9 to 5 from the workshop/reading phase of development and did the regional productions before they reached Broadway (9 to 5 at the Ahmanson in L.A., Bonnie & Clyde at La Jolla and Florida’s Asolo Rep). “I love getting the new material and diving in and discovering it, I love being a collaborator,” Cooney says. “Even though it’s commercial theater, we’re trying to create the best art we can. So it’s great being in that room...fully investing in the process. I do my part—show up, have a clear point of view, jump in if there’s anything I can offer up to help them see if something’s working or not. Beyond that it’s out of my hands.”
Still, Cooney says he was “shocked” by the chilly reception to Bonnie & Clyde, even knowing composer Frank Wildhorn is a critics’ punching bag. He’d heard good things from friends in the business who saw the show in previews, including Marc Kudisch, who texted him enthusiastically after seeing it. (Cooney says he trusts Kudisch’s judment because “Marc’s a savvy theater dude...a no-bullsh-- kind of guy.”) “I was expecting the reviews to be fine,” Cooney says. “I thought they were going to pick it apart but say, At the end of the day it’s really enjoyable.”