Daniel Osman

Born in Los Angeles to ‘50s Jewish Liberal, folk-singing parents Daniel grew up with music lessons and youth bands and a father named Shelomo who had a song, a joke or a pun for every occasion. In the second grade talent show he got on stage and sang “Boom boom, ain’t it great to be crazy” with Cheri Allen, and at that moment little Danny’s love of the theater was born. His theatrical fate was sealed in fourth grade by his killer Irish accent as Dr. Mallory in O Henry’s “The Last Leaf”, and a stellar turn as Geppetto in the Whittier Junior Theater production of “Pinocchio”. He briefly studied the String Bass and the Trombone, and excelled in eighth grade dance class. There was no stopping him now.

Of course, a life in the theater means finding some other means of support until stardom changes your circumstances. Daniel’s youthful work life basically took two parallel paths. After happily attending camp for several years, Daniel became a counselor for a series of Jewish and secular camps, discovering his affinity for people, for social circumstance, for creating events and for keeping a crowd engaged.

His other path was foodservice. His first get-up-and-go-to-work job was running a deli next to UCSD in La Jolla, California. Through college Daniel was a self-described Sandwich Jockey, famous for the best and most imaginative sandwiches in San Diego. It was at the deli that Daniel came to grips with his love of food, flavor, and hospitality, where his visual and epicurean instincts combined to create platters and dishes and sandwiches and case displays and flavor combinations and events and aesthetics that have served him in all of his creative work since. (Point of interest: It is also in that deli, Germaine’s Country Deli by name, that Daniel created the Blue Cheese dressing still made fresh daily at the Dream Away Lodge, and still the best damn dressing in the land!)

Daniel was an actor, director, producer and theater maker for more than 35 years, all the while continuing to explore the world of food and hospitality. Lover of good food, good wine and great conversation, Daniel inherited from his punster father Shelomo the knack for putting interesting people together and making a great party. He spent several years as a florist in Manhattan, creating private events, weddings and corporate displays, and had a lengthy stint as a marketer and art director for the Colgate Palmolive Corporation, further developing his visual and presentational sensibilities. He did some private catering and staged parties and openings for friends in the New York art and theater scene through the 1980’s including Whoopi Goldberg, Mike Nichols and Dean Rolston.

Daniel first came to the Berkshires in 1979 as a participant in the first Winter Workshop at Shakespeare & Company and has had a life here ever since. He moved to New York in 1980 with his then partner, the late Martin Worman, cofounder of and writer for the famed San Francisco gender-fuck theater troupe of the late 60’s the Cockettes. Worman introduced Daniel to gay spiritualist and Radical Faery founder Harry Hay and was a major influence on the ways in which Daniel’s political and performance lives spiraled around each other. Within a few years Daniel was splitting his time between the New York and the beautiful Berkshires.

Daniel first visited the Dream Away Lodge in 1986 and was instantly enchanted by the overgrown, slightly other worldly end-of-the-road charm of the whole scene – flies buzzing, neon lights blinking, broken down trucks in the yard. He and Mamma Frasca’s oldest daughter Tess met and over time became great friends. Eleven years later, after a revelatory experience at the Radical Faery Sanctuary in Wolf Creek, Oregon with his old mentor Harry Hay, Daniel purchased the Lodge from Tess and has since dedicated himself to the discovering, defining and fulfilling the destiny of this fifty acre mountaintop legend.

Besides staging nightly what he has come to call Reality Dinner Theater, Daniel still loves the theater and has in recent years been lured back onto the stage, producing some work he is particularly proud of, including a thrilling turn as Solange in Jean Genet’s The Maids – long a favorite play – and two one-man plays: The Big Picture (written for him by noted Berkshire playwright Joan Ackermann), and Becky Mode’s Fully Committed – a play about an out of work actor running the reservation line at the hottest restaurant in New York in which one actor plays 40 characters. If it is true that life imitates art, then the Dream Away is Daniel’s longest running and most critically acclaimed production.