By Mervyn Rothstein
05 Dec 2012
Photo by Paul Kolnik
DB: I was born in Mount Kisco, NY — we were living in the Bronx, but that's where I decided to come out. My parents were divorcing when I was born, and by the time I was two months old they had split. My mom raised me alone until I was about six. She was Costa Rican, so Spanish is my first language. Then my stepfather, Harvey Burstein, came along and basically changed my life. He was a writer and philosophy professor, and he got me interested in plays and reading books, and that started me off.
He gave me many plays. It was very funny — I was like an eight-year-old kid reading Ibsen, reading The Wild Duck. I loved it. I understood the dramatic form. It spoke to me, to my heart, more than any other form of writing.
When I was 13 I was lucky enough to audition for the High School of Performing Arts. Over 4,000 kids auditioned that year, and 128 made it in. So from ages 14 to 18 I was at that high school, [which was then] on West 46th Street right in the middle of the theatre district, and it changed my life. All of a sudden, from loving plays, I had this idea that maybe I could be an actor and actually make a living at it.
I got my bachelor's degree from Queens College, where I studied with a fellow named Ed Greenberg, another person who was very important and changed my life. He ran the St. Louis Muny [theatre], which [calls itself] the largest outdoor theatre in the country, and he gave me my Equity card when I was 19. I started doing musicals out there. All the time I'd been doing community theatre and things like that, trying to make it as an actor.
Is there anything on the horizon for you after Golden Boy?
DB: Another play. I'll be doing double duty starting Jan. 8. I'm doing Roundabout's revival of Lanford Wilson's Talley's Folly, with Sarah Paulson. Jan. 8 is when rehearsals begin. Golden Boy is scheduled to run until Jan. 20, and Talley's Folly's previews start on Feb. 8. [It opens March 5 at the Roundabout Theatre Company's Laura Pels Theatre, Off-Broadway.]