David Grindrod of Beauty and the Beast

Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

It isn’t every day that one has the opportunity to speak with a dancing, singing pepper shaker.  When the opportunity arose to discuss David Grindrod’s many roles in the Disney touring company of Beauty and the Beast, I jumped at the chance.

Ralph Malachowski: Beauty and the Beast is set to play the Academy of Music in Philadelphia from February 16 through February 21. You play many roles in the ensemble. Tell us about them, the musical, and something about what it’s like to be on tour.

David Grindrod: Right now we’re in Huntsville, Alabama. We’re doing sound checks, lighting, and stage business for our opening here. I am so glad to be somewhere warm! Other places we’ll be that are not so warm will be our week in Boston, Massachusetts and Madison Wisconsin. Our full schedule is posted online on our webpage. It’s a busy schedule. This production will tour from August into September.


As a member of the ensemble, I play a villager, a pepper shaker (with pepper coming out of my head), a Gargoyle, a shepherd, and a knife, among others. I like to name my characters, so over time I’ve given names to each one. For instance, Cayenne is my name for my pepper shaker character, while Mr. Blade is my knife character.

RM: I have yet to see any production photos, so I’ll ask about the pepper shaker especially … Is it a full costume, can you see where you’re going while in it? Is it very difficult to dance in full costume as a knife or a gargoyle?

DG: Oh, no, it’s not as if we’re wearing a complete costume where we can’t be seen. That would be rather difficult to dance in!  Our costumes suggest who we are. As it was described to us in rehearsals, we are humans who have had a spell cast upon us, so we are slowly changing into these things, so we are still part human.

RM: A thought just entered my mind, so I’m going to ask it because I always wondered about it. Dancing eight times a week must put a lot of wear and tear on costumes, not to mention perspiration, especially so for those matinee and evening performances on the same day. Do you have to wear the same costume, or is there a spare?

DG: (Laughing) We definitely wear the same costume for all performances! We have to give credit to our wardrobe people. They work so hard to care for and clean our costumes. They are always fresh and ready for us. For instance, I’ll let you in on a secret. They use vodka in spray bottles to freshen up the costumes. It works!

RM: Maybe the vodka fumes help the performance a bit, too. Moving on, what are a few favorite cities you’ve visited so far on tour? Are there any cities you’re especially looking forward to visit?

DG: My favorite city so far has to be San Antonio, Texas, because our hotel was right on Riverwalk, a wonderful place with plants, flowers, and trees all along this riverbank with restaurants and shops. It was so beautiful just to step out of the hotel where we stayed and walk out onto all this nature.  I’m also looking forward to visiting Charleston, South Carolina, because my sister lives there. I love Baltimore. It’s such a great place. Annapolis is my home town, so that’s yet another city. The production still has a lot of places to go, so I’m sure I’ll have a few more favorite places in the months to come.

RM: You mentioned your sister, which brings up the question of your childhood and growing up. When did you decide that a life on stage was for you? Who first helped you realize your goal? Did your parents help, or did a teacher influence you?

DG: There was no real “moment,” really. I always wanted to perform. Even as a young child, I knew I wanted to sing and dance. I had no real skills, and was pretty bad at school, so my mother made a deal with me. If I learned how to read and write, I could dance. Thankfully, my mother forced me to get these skills in order to motivate me towards something I really wanted. I was in dance class at seven years old. I loved it. The first real tragedy I remember is that my dance teacher (who I really loved) died when I was eleven. That was a turning point in my life. Luckily, her family took over the school, taking me through what could have been a crisis. I then went on and graduated high school and college. At nineteen, I joined the national tour of A Chorus Line. I just graduated from Pace University in New York this past May. I told myself, “Now that you’ve graduated college, you’re a grown-up. So, what’s next?” I went to this audition after graduation. I didn’t get the part, but one of the casting directors told me about the audition for Beauty and the Beast. I got it!

RM: That’s a wonderful story. For such a young man as yourself you’ve done very well. Are there any roles you would especially want, or actors to play alongside, after Beauty and the Beast finishes its run?

DG: Sure! There are plenty of good roles! I’ve heard that there will be a new touring production of On the Town. That’s a fantastic, iconic American musical I would love to be in. There’s also a projected new tour of Peter and the Starcatcher, another fabulous musical. As for a favorite actor, Tony Yazbeck has always struck me as one of the theatre greats, a real triple-threat.

RM: On a personal note, is there a significant other in your life? Would you welcome gentlemen at the stage door offering you dinner, flowers, or keys to a new Lexus?

DG: (Laughing) That would be wonderful! All those things sound good to me. To answer your question, yes, I am single.

RM: To conclude, why should folks from Philadelphia, the suburbs and New Jersey come to the Academy of Music to see Beauty and the Beast?

DG: Right off the beginning, I have to say bring the kids. We love it when the kids get so excited about what’s happening onstage. We love to hear them gasp, cheer, or react to what we do. The swordfight between Gaston and the Beast gets cheered! Beauty and the Beast is all about acceptance and love. It’s a two-and-one-half hour trip to a magical place as only Disney can do.

 For ticket information, visit http://www.kimmelcenter.org

Read Related Posts...