Playwright Bernstein '14 receives campus, national honors

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Syl Kacapyr
Danny Bernstein
Lindsay France/University Photography
Danny Bernstein ’14, Cornell’s Undergraduate Artist of the Year for 2013-14, premieres his original musical 'Far from Canterbury' on campus in April.

“It’s something like a fairy tale…”

– A song from Far From Canterbury”

Danny Bernstein ’14, a composer, playwright, pianist, director and actor whose original musical, “Far From Canterbury,” premieres in April at the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts, has been recognized as a talent on the rise.

Earlier this month, he was one of three people selected for the Academy for New Musical Theatre’s New Voices Project. Supported in part by Walt Disney Imagineering, the project nurtures new musical theater writers under the age of 26 with workshops of their writing.

He is the only student chosen to have his material workshopped in Los Angeles and produced for a live audience of industry professionals. He will receive feedback and the opportunity to rewrite his songs via online workshops, and will be flown to Los Angeles for the event May 6.

“I’m literally still trying to wrap my brain around this – it’s huge,” Bernstein said. “Getting to represent Cornell in the professional theater world at such a young age is an opportunity I never expected.”

Bernstein is a music major and theater minor in the College of Arts and Sciences. “Far From Canterbury” is his re-imagining of “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” from Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales.” The show will have four performances, April 24-26 in the Schwartz Center’s Class of ’56 Flexible Theatre, presented by the Department of Performing and Media Arts as part of its commitment to student-created productions.

Bernstein also has been named Cornell’s Undergraduate Artist of the Year 2013-14. The citation and monetary award is given annually by the Cornell Council for the Arts to an outstanding undergraduate student in the arts who has demonstrated talent and dedication and who has had achievements in one or more aartistic disciplines at Cornell.

“I’m used to going to a university where creative and performing arts are so often overshadowed by the hard sciences, so getting this kind of recognition is really inspiring,” Bernstein said.

The award presentation, April 24 at 5 p.m. at the Schwartz Center, will feature Bernstein in conversation with professor of theater Bruce Levitt before the 7:30 p.m. opening performance of “Far From Canterbury.”

“From his freshman year, when he won first prize in the Heermans-McCalmon playwriting contest, it was clear that Danny was a talented and imaginative student,” Levitt said. “From performing in productions at Risley, to recently conducting a staged production of ‘Company’ to writing the book, music and lyrics for ‘Far From Canterbury,’ Danny displays a diversity of talents and an uncanny theatrical sensibility.”

Bernstein was born and raised in Westchester County, N.Y., and has been involved with musical theater since age 9. Despite his original intention to study music and psychology at Cornell, Bernstein became involved in the theater community, twice winning the Heermans-McCalmon Dramatic Writing competition and directing two musicals by the end of his sophomore year. He has since been the director or music director on several other musicals.

Tickets for “Far From Canterbury” are $5, available online at, by calling 607-254-ARTS, or visiting the Schwartz Center box office, 430 College Ave., from noon-4 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Daniel Aloi and Liz Field, communications manager for the Department of Performing and Media Arts, contributed to this story.


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