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posted: 11/28/2013 6:00 AM

St. Charles native gets musical for 'Dead Prince'

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  • St. Charles native Dan Behrendt performs as Leopold the Thief in The Strange Tree Group's production of "The Dead Prince."

    St. Charles native Dan Behrendt performs as Leopold the Thief in The Strange Tree Group's production of "The Dead Prince."

By Joe Salvato

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Ironically, The Strange Tree Group's production of "The Dead Prince" has brought some life back into Dan Behrendt's musical talents.

The show requires the St. Charles native to sing and play guitar, which he has not done for a long time.

"Rehearsals for this play have kind of forced the guitar back into my hands, which is sort of a blessing in disguise because I forgot how much I enjoy it and I have some sort of a knack for it, at least on a competent level." Behrendt said.

"The Dead Prince" is a musical revolving around a princess who is told by countless magic mirrors that her true love has died. However, when she learns that it is possible to cross the void and retrieve her love, finding the dead prince suddenly becomes an achievable goal.

Behrendt plays Leopold, a horse thief with his own motivations for helping the princess on her quest.

"He's sort of a charming rake, someone you don't want to like but hopefully you kind of do anyway," Behrendt said. "He's basically the Han Solo of the piece."

Behrendt originally began singing, reluctantly, at St. Charles High School where he was pressured to try out after his first acting role.

"I did student-directed one-acts as a freshman, and it was always something I wanted to try but was afraid to," Behrendt said. "I made up my mind and thought, 'Well I'll do this but not musicals since I can't sing,' but my then-girlfriend at the time told me she'd teach me to sing if I tried out."

From there, he pursued acting through Illinois State University and began more dramatic roles as opposed to the musical genre.

"I haven't worked on a musical since college," Behrendt said. "This is a change but a welcome one at that because it's just very fun."

After working in plays such as Mary Arrchie Theatre's "Our Bad Magnet" in 2008 and "Red Light Winter" in 2011, Behrendt was nominated for two Jeff awards.

Now, Behrendt is enjoying the lighter tone of "The Dead Prince" and said he will certainly think about returning to musicals in the future.

"It's sweet, and it's warm without being too sticky about it," Behrendt said. "Emily Schwartz, the playwright, just has a unique sensibility and it's been the most gloriously silly process I've had the privilege of working on in a long time."

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