Musical performer follows her passion

By Briana DeTuro

On Dec. 9, 1999 at 7:13 p.m., Abigail Daner sat on her grandpa’s lap at the piano. Her feet swung with excitement underneath the bench and her hands rested on her grandpa’s as he played her favorite song, If You’re Happy and You Know It. She enthusiastically clapped along when it was time and sang through the song.

Her grandpa stopped and looked up at the camera with a big smile on his face and said, “I want you to know that I changed keys three times and she followed. She changed her voice; she changed her voice to follow what was being played.”

He was amazed because she was only two-years-old. Since that night, her parents knew that Abigail’s passion would be for music and performance.

Daner is a senior at UT studying musical theatre. She graduates this May and hopes to get her Masters in Musical Theatre Education.

Since Daner was a little girl, her true passion has always been music and performance.

She tried sports, cheer and every other activity that her family encouraged her to try, but she found herself drawn to the arts. In college, she even tried different majors until she realized her true calling was musical theatre.

“Abby was born singing,” said Amy Daner, Daner’s mother. “As a baby, she sang herself to sleep. As a toddler, she endlessly sang along with Disney movies and kid song videos. She entertained us daily and we knew she was destined for the stage.”

At a young age, her parents decided to put her in dance and she loved it. Her passion continued all throughout her childhood into her high school years. She was  active in her musical theatre program and was in several  shows a year throughout her high school career at Alonso High School in Tampa, FL.

“I played the mom in Carrie the musical,” said Daner. “So that was really wild and I had the flu.  It was not fun, but it’s also super memorable.”

“One of my greatest joys in life has been watching my daughter perform,” said Fred Daner, Daner’s father.  “Seeing how she’s grown so much as a performer and an artists.”

The Theory of Relativity is a musical that is a combination of students in college discussing their struggles and triumphs. These individual stories interconnect and Daner’s character, Catherine, is a main component of the plot line throughout the show. Catherine has OCD and she is  afraid of touching things other people have touched.

Her main conflict is that her boyfriend made her a cake, and she is terrified to eat it.  Catherine has a song titled The Great Expectations, is a song that Abigail feels as though everyone, especially college students can relate to.

“Abby is such a strong vocalist, yet I cast her in this show for her acting and comic ability,” said Michael Staczar, director of The Theory of Relativity.  “As an actor, I think The Theory of Relativity was a good challenge for her.  Her role serves as a narrative thru-line for the show, so she has this ongoing monologue that continues to return throughout the production.”

The song is about meeting Catherine’s parent’s expectations and trying to fit into society’s normal view of someone. Daner believes it to be a “very universal topic that is very specific to her [Catherine].”

The universal messages behind the songs and stories are written to ensure anyone can relate to a part of this play.

“The most important thing is that you’re enjoying it, and that you are trying to be true to you as a performer and not trying to fit a brand. You fit your own brand.”

Briana DeTuro can be reached at

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