Dust off those platform shoes for Sunday’s Boogie Dairyland Cattle Call, a benefit for Youth Performance Company.
In celebration of its 30th season, YPC “strongly encourages” attendees to arrive at the Metropolitan Ballroom in “gold chains, shimmering satin, butterfly collars and psychedelic bell-bottoms.” The festivities begin at 5:30 p.m. with a silent auction that includes a tour of the Vikings’ new practice facility and lower level tickets to a game, including pregame field passes. Dinner is at 7 p.m., followed by performances from YPC artists and alums. You can register for tickets at youthperformanceco.org or by calling 612-623-9080.
Among alums who will take the stage about 8 p.m. is Dave Gangler, who performed at YPC from 1992 to 1995. He’s remained in touch by “writing a check, working on the website, showing up and performing in fundraisers.” This year, Gangler, a computer geek, joined the YPC board. A happily married man who never misses date night with Katie, he is a passionate animal lover in mourning over the loss of his beloved dog Nellie, 16. She couldn’t walk anymore, but she still had a ferocious bark. We did this interview via e-mail.
Q: You are a theater actor and chief technology officer for a software company. That’s a strange combination.
A: I kind of live a double life that requires a lot of time. Software developer by day. Actor by night. I’m not sure which one is the secret identity anymore. I originally got into software development to make better money than I was making bartending. I hated the idea of being a starving artist. My software career just progressed over the years as I gained more experience. I find that I need to feed my creative side in order to be the best software developer I can. It’s a good (if demanding) balance. Performing feeds my artistic soul. Software development feeds my stomach.
Q: I know you grew up in the Twin Cities doing theater at YPC. How did that shape you?
A: YPC had an enormous influence on me as a teenager! I learned to be bold and essentially do whatever it is 100 percent. This not only served me well in performance on the stage, but in general in life. I think YPC is a special place because they teach young people to have confidence in their own creative voice. I was fortunate to have a great support system at home, but for a lot of young people YPC provides a sense of community, connection, belonging and belief in themselves that they don’t get elsewhere.
When I was a teenager, my instinct was always to try to get others to do things my way. I thought I had great ideas and that they should be implemented as I imagined. At YPC I learned that by listening, collaborating and compromising with others, we could achieve something far more rich than what I could conceive of by myself. I see this pattern all over the place.
Q: What’s a piece of advice you could give adult actors working with child actors?
A: Don’t underestimate them. Young people have a wealth of creative ideas and vibrant energy. The best thing that adults did for me when I was a teenager was to expect me to do a professional job.
Q: Where have you been performing lately?
A: I have mostly been performing with the Mystery Cafe. These are murder mystery shows that take place in and among the audience as they eat dinner.
The Mystery Cafe has made me a better performer. I was never very comfortable with improv, but having extemporaneous conversations with audience members while in character has put me in a better mental place as a performer. … You can’t be on autopilot. Autopilot performing is boring. I’ve learned that when things go “off the rails” because a “mistake” happened or because the audience reacted to something in an unusual way, that’s when the opportunity for creative inspiration opens up and the best moments take place.
Q: Do you watch any TV?
A: My top five shows of all time: “Family Ties,” “ER,” “Sex and the City,” “The West Wing,” [the 2004-09] “Battlestar Galactica.” My favorite newer show is “Stranger Things.”
Q: What role do you dream of playing on Broadway?
A: I don’t really dream of performing on Broadway. My dream is to invent a new style of performance here in the Twin Cities. I have this idea that live theater should feel more like going out to happy hour. I want group games and food and drink and talking among ourselves and cellphone usage and music and not sitting quietly in the dark. And I believe all of that can be woven into an experience where there is a story being told by performers. Will it be classified as “theater”? I dunno. But I think it will be fun!
Q: Favorite winter activity: skiing or ice fishing?
A: Ice fishing, 100 percent. I built my own ice fishing shack and I party with my friends there and sleep there some nights. Sunday brunch at my shack is a tradition. You’ve gotta have a winter activity that you love. Something you can only do in the winter; that way you have something to look forward to in winter rather than dread it.
Q: Your love for animals makes me wonder how you haven’t found your way onto a humane society board.
A: My pets are my children, and I love them so much! We just had to say goodbye to my 16-year-old dog, and that part is brutal. I sobbed. It’ll take awhile before I heal. But it’s so worth it because of the bond we shared. I don’t see how I’d find time to serve on another board, though.
C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count.