What to Buy to Look Like: A Broadway Actor

Daniel Breaker, right, in Love’s Labour’s Lost at the Public Theater. Photo: ©2013 Joan Marcus/Joan Marcus

Status can be a funny thing. Of course its most obvious iteration comes with shiny hardware and easily recognizable logos, but it gets far more interesting as you narrow it down to the more opaque signals — when the way you tuck your shirt, or what you eat for breakfast, or your particular brand of notebook can mark you as in or out. And of course, what counts as a status item varies wildly across human tribes. In our series, Insider Goods, we’re talking to tribe members (some with their real names, some anonymously) to find out the status items among art-gallery assistants, or Broadway actors, or architects. Today, we have Daniel Breaker, who’s been performing on Broadway since 2002 and is currently acting nightly as Aaron Burr in Hamilton.

“In the musical-theater world and any kind of Broadway long-running show, it’s all about survival, and it’s about uppers and downers. We work against civilian schedule, so it’s about pacing yourself out during the day for the show you do at night. The voice is such a delicate thing, but we push it so much when we do eight shows a week. Vocally, there are a bunch of things I have in my dressing room and in my house to just get the body, the mind, and the voice in good condition. First, Throat Coat tea. It coats the voice. We have that by the ton. It’s everywhere. Usually, we’re drinking hot water, lemon, ginger, some honey, and some Throat Coat tea.”

“Just to keep the immune system boosted and keep the mucus down, people do shots of apple-cider vinegar, which is disgusting, but very good. The new thing, though, is fire cider. That’s an apple-cider-vinegar-based drink, but it has turmeric and horseradish and garlic in it. It’s even more intense, but over at Hamilton, we truly have gallons of that. I even make some at home. You take a shot of it whenever you feel like your body might be getting sick, or you’re feeling like you need a boost of energy. You put this disgusting thing down your throat, and somehow you’re doing just fine. We’ve been drinking apple-cider vinegar for years, but I just learned about this in the spring, and now it’s a new obsession.”

“The theaters are just dusty, old theaters, so you need to clean the air. I have a really nice air purifier there called the Rabbit Air Purifier. The things are extraordinary because you only change the filter once a year. Get the Rabbit. It’s very swanky, but it’s really nice.”

“A foam roller is a thing that we all need. We roll out the IT bands, roll out the back. That’s just for stamina and longevity, so you don’t twist anything or sprain anything. And then also exercise balls. There’s that deep-tissue one that’s brutal. I hate that thing, but everybody uses it. Just looking at it brings me pain in my IT bands. Exercise balls are great for leaning against the wall. Like, to put your back on the wall and sort of just get a knot on your neck or lower back; those are really good. Those are what all the dancers use, and I just watch them use it.”

“Coffee is king, and I have an espresso maker in my dressing room and host what we call Burr’s Beans, where we’re making coffee just before the show for the cast. We’re high-end here. It’s a Breville espresso machine with burr grinders. For the coffee, I use beans from a place in Vermont called Brave coffee. It’s the mahogany blend. Notes of citrus and chocolate, mmmm.”

“For any kind of actor working on Broadway there are rehearsals, and the theaters are always freezing. There’s this onesie that everybody has. I was in the Hamilton cast in Chicago first, and we had a bunch of them and it caught on, and now the cast of New York is getting them, too. We wander around the building in them and stay warm.”

“It’s all about warm socks. When I was in the Book of Mormon cast, I gave a lot of people these alpaca socks just to have at the theater when you’re waiting to go on, and they’re really cozy. Any kind of alpaca really, just heavy, thick socks you can wander around in.”

“I’ve heard some girls talk a lot about Rihanna’s new makeup line that’s really great for black and brown women, where they don’t have to mix their shades. I’ve heard a lot about that. It’s like the talk of the town.”

“I don’t know if I should give away this secret, but my acupuncturist is phenomenal. She used to be at Longevity Health Spa, before she started her own place called Silver Spring Wellness and Acupuncture. Every time I walk in there, I see someone I know. It’s a regular spot. I’ve seen her since I was doing a musical called Passing Strange back in 2007, and I’ve gotta say, she kept me alive.”

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What to Buy to Look Like: A Broadway Actor