When Ali Rose Dachis was growing up in St. Louis Park, she had but one dream: to act on Broadway. It’s been nearly two decades since Dachis, at age 10, voiced her hopes to her parents and grandparents, who have offered solid support to her. Now her dreams have come true.
Since early March, Dachis has been a member of the ensemble of “Fish in the Dark,” the sold-out comedy written by and starring “Seinfeld” creator Larry David alongside 23 other actors. The play, about dysfunction in a family after the patriarch’s death, had $14 million in advance tickets, a Broadway record.
The youthful Dachis plays the small role of a caterer in this new play while understudying the female leads, who range in age from 14 to the mid-20s. This weekend, she takes a leading role, as David’s daughter.
“It’s everything I could’ve wished for,” she said Tuesday, fresh from an audition. “I get to originate a show with Larry David and a fantastic cast. I get to live out my hopes in a theater where I saw many shows and where I projected my own dreams. How cool is that?”
The second child of artist Toni Dachis and businessman Bruce Dachis, both prominent Twin Cities area personalities, Dachis grew up in a big-hearted, arts-loving family. Her older brother, Adam, is a Los Angeles-based writer of books and screenplays.
The path to her dream started when she was cast in “The Music Man” at Ordway Center. “They told me that as long as I’m having fun, they’d support me,” she said. “But I kept falling in love with it, and by the time I was 15, I knew that there was nothing else for me to do.”
While at St. Louis Park High School, Dachis acted in shows at Children’s Theatre, including “Seussical the Musical” and “The Wizard of Oz.” She enrolled in the Guthrie Theater/University of Minnesota BFA program, which resulted in several Guthrie roles in such shows as “A Christmas Carol” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
A skillful, dedicated actor
Her biggest role at the Guthrie was starring in Adam Rapp’s “The Edge of Our Bodies,” a one-woman show about a character with a buried history that surfaces as the play goes on.
“Ali has all the fundamentals of craft and will outwork any actor,” said Ben McGovern, who directed that 2011 production at the Guthrie. “On top of that, she has this boundless energy that is always directed at giving as generous a performance as she possibly can.
“When you combine those things with her charm, her intellect and this bright light that she has about her — this sense of optimism and generosity of spirit — she becomes unstoppable. She’s someone you want to watch onstage.”
Even as Dachis was building her reputation in the Twin Cities, New York was calling her. She moved there three years ago, but like many NYC newbies, she found that the acting opportunities were often out of town. She took roles in Cincinnati, Arizona and elsewhere, even as she continued to knock on doors in New York. She returned to the Guthrie last year for Christopher Durang’s “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” as Nina.
But now she’s back in Manhattan, the place where she always saw herself settling. “Fish in the Dark” is playing at the Cort Theatre, where she sat many times as an audience member.
“My parents indulged me, and took me to a lot of shows in New York when I was a kid,” she said. “I saw ‘Waiting for Godot’ with Patrick Stewart on this stage, and ‘The Cripple of Inishmaan.’ It’s a strange feeling to dream about something and then to be doing it and find that it’s as good as you imagined it.”
Being onstage with David is “surreal,” she said. “At one point I was yelling in his face in a Cockney accent.” While she’s totally professional, it’s difficult not to be awe-struck.
Although David portrays himself as a crank on his HBO show “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” Dachis said he is “a wonderful person in general and a lot of fun to work with, even though he would argue with you about being all that wonderful. He has this prickly public persona, but to those who work with him, he’s the most generous and funniest man you will meet. Somebody pinch me.”