During the past few months, I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing the Facebook posts of former Indy resident Daniel Klingler, who now lives in New York City, where he moved over a year ago to work on Broadway and in TV as a wig stylist.
In 2013, while writing for Examiner.com, I profiled Klingler, who was then the owner/operator of Neck Up Design, LLC Studio and active in hair and makeup design for local community and professional theatres. The 1999 Ball State grad, with a B.A. in musical theatre and vocal performance, single-handedly raised the profile of his craft. In fact, it was due to his influence and efforts that a hair and makeup category was added to competition categories for the Encore Awards, the local community theatre accolades.
Recently, I spoke by phone with Klingler from his Washington Heights apartment in Manhattan. Our conversation began with him telling me that he had worked on a 5:00 a.m. call location shoot that morning with actors Christine Baranski and Kate Shindle on CBS-TV’s “The Good Fight.” “Just another day at the office,” he laughed heartily in his distinctive way, adding, “It’s surreal, really. Here you are working with these people that you have seen on television for years. It has happened many times now. I don’t fan girl about it, but I am grateful. I worked hard at getting where I wanted to be and am glad I am, but it is sometimes a bit overwhelming.”
Having worked with the companies of “Mean Girls” and “Frozen,” Klingler’s current full-time job is with “Aladdin,” which plays at the New Amsterdam Theatre. He said when he first arrived in the city, he discovered a good resume is not enough and networking is key. Plus, he found that networking takes time. “It takes a while to build those contacts, so in the first few months after I arrived, I was frustrated. But once someone brings you in, then things start to snowball,” said Klingler, who got his break as a swing on “Aladdin,” which then led to work at the other musicals.
When asked when he had his first “pinch myself” moment, Klingler said, “When I was in the wings waiting for a change with an actor and watching ‘A Whole New World,’ but really, I pinch myself more because I am surrounded by so many talented people and I get to be part of that.” As far as his current friendships, Klingler said they are primarily people that he works with, such as “Aladdin” star Telly Leung, who just happens to be married to James Babcock, a former Indy resident, who still maintains ties with local friends.
Regarding his future goals, Klingler joked, “Isn’t Broadway and TV enough?” before adding, “Right now, I am exploring it all, like a kid in a candy store. I would like to do a film. I have not done a motion picture. I am going to do some work with QVC later this month. I am working with a hair line. New York has a large concentration of all these opportunities that keep popping up. One thing about doing hair and makeup is that there are all these little corners that you are not quite aware of until you are in a city like this.”
Concluding our chat, I asked Klingler if he had any words of wisdom for fellow artists back home, to which he replied, “Take advantage of the opportunities that are there. Indiana is such an incredible playhouse for those of us who love theatre. If you have the goal to go all the way or remain there and be creative, Indianapolis has all the levels of that there.” Believing that education is the key to success, Klingler also suggests performers take advantage of programs that are offered by IRT or Phoenix Theatre and insists, “work on your craft. Try to find mentors and surround yourself with people who challenge you. Be humble. There is such a good work ethic in the Midwest and I have benefited from it. There’s a reason so many people on Broadway and on national tours are from Indianapolis.” Providing an example of someone flourishing on Broadway, Klingler said, “Ted Arthur, a Purdue grad, is a music director and pianist who worked on ‘Mean Girls,’ ‘Once on This Island,’ ‘Wicked’ and now ‘The Prom.’ He arrived here a few years before me. I asked him what he did to be successful and he told me, ‘I said yes to everything. Even if it was for free.’ I do that too.”