Danny Knaub was born and raised in Long Island, New York, but is quite pleased to call Charlotte home. While still in high school, Knaub’s family moved from New York because they wanted their children (Danny and his older brother and older sister) to know life existed outside New York City.
Fast forwarding to present day, Knaub is now a well-traveled adult with a day job he thoroughly enjoys. Currently, he serves as Vice President of the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center where he couldn’t be happier having a hand in promoting and sharing art with enthusiasts from Charlotte and surrounding areas.
Most importantly though, he lives a life guided by love and acceptance. “We’re better off together, than separate,” he believes. “If we’re united as a team, we can get more accomplished.”
Having lived, left and returned to Charlotte, what inspired your to move back to the Queen City?
“I moved back to Charlotte in 2021 from New York,” explains Knaub. “I had been working in New York City for about five years but when the pandemic happened, I was laid off because I worked in theatre. So, I returned to North Carolina, staying with my parents in Lake Lure. My passion is theater [even with the New York layoff] I knew something good would come out of the pandemic, I just felt it. I was applying for various organizations when I got a call from the Blumenthal. It was an embarrassment of riches. Moving back to Charlotte was good because it was an opportunity to reconnect with my family. My sister lives in Charlotte with her children, my niece and nephews.”
Where in Charlotte do you live?
I live in Uptown. I just bought a condo. I’m currently in the process of renovating my kitchen. My best friend from college is visiting. He’s a contractor and it’s been a lot of fun. I’m thrilled about the renovation. I feel like I’ve rebounded from the pandemic, a year where I felt like I was at my lowest. Now I have my dream job, my dream house and my dream partner. It just brings tears to my eyes, I’m so happy. Incredibly happy.
So, a partner is part of all that happiness?
Yes. We’ve been together for seven months. His name is Cristiano Gains and he is an amazing partner. When I met him, I just knew something was different. I was in a place in my life where I was finally accepting of love. I’d spent many years alone after a rough breakup. My favorite part is, we actually met in person. Very rare today [not meeting via a social media site or app]. He supports, loves and encourages me. He’s my biggest fan and I’m his.
What do you do for the Blumenthal?
I am the Vice President of Marketing. The Blumenthal presents the best of Broadway as well as concerts and plays. My job is bringing the Blumenthal to the masses. Informing everyone on what’s coming to our venues and even outside of our venues. Right now, we’re in the process of launching the Inaugural Charlotte International Artist Festival [September 16 – October 2, 2022]. It is 17 days, takes place from Uptown to Ballantyne with over 200 attractions, many offered for free. The festival will feature a blending of local and international artists. We want to highlight local artists, but we’ll also have art, installations, thought leaders and immersive experiences with art from Charlotte to England, Scotland, Australia and other places. We really hope to reinvigorate the city by bringing families, couples and individuals together to celebrate art with a spirit of playfulness.
Sounds cool. What’s the best thing about working for the Blumenthal?
I know that theater has the ability to change someone’s life for the better. So for me, I always love to be able to experience theater through someone else’s eyes. Whenever I’m at the Blumenthal for a show and see a little kid, I recognize myself in that kid. There’s no better feeling than expanding someone’s mind and bringing joy and celebration to them through theater.
Aside from theater, what or where is your happy place?
My parents’ Lake Lure home. That’s where I go to decompress. That’s where I go to feel like a kid again, water skiing and tubing. It’s also where my [siblings and extended] family goes to get together and I’m happiest when I’m surrounded by my family.
Sounds like your family is nurturing and affirming, are they?
Yes, my family is very accepting of who I am. They accept me, they accept Chris. My niece and nephews are now getting to the age where they are understanding the dynamics of a gay relationship. It’s truly a testament to my sister and my parents who have always accepted me for who I am and never once tried to change any part of that.
You’re fortunate to have work and home as places of support that you enjoy. Where do you not enjoy being?
Well, I never want to be in line at the DMV <chuckles>
After being in line at the DMV, what’s sure to put a smile on your face?
Traveling. I’m a big fan of exploring other cultures. I’ve been very lucky to travel to many many countries. Hands down Croatia is my favorite. It’s where my extended family is from and I’ve always felt at home when I visit that country.
When you’re unable to travel, what are you doing when you’re not working?
Spending time with my boyfriend, family and friends. And I love cooking. Cooking is how I relax after a long day. I feel very meditative while I’m doing it. My favorite type of food to cook is Thai food. When I was in college, I worked for a Thai restaurant and the owner was nice enough to teach me her ways. So, I learned how to make a mean curry, it’s delicious.
Would you mind sharing something most folks would be surprised to know about you?
I’m a huge horror movie fan. My favorite is the Scream franchise. I’ve seen those movies over 100 times. I’ve visited filming locations, most in Sonoma California and have signed movie posters. Funny story, there’s this house where the entire third act of the first film took place. I purchased tickets to view the movie with a bunch of fans in that house. It was two days before the world shut down [due to the COVID-19 Pandemic] so I didn’t get on the plane (from NYC to San Francisco). I was so mad.
What’s life like for Danny Knaub 15 years from now? What do you see yourself doing in the future?
My ultimate dream would be to be a CEO for a performing artist center. That and happily married.
Any final thoughts for Qnotes readers?
The Blumenthal has an LGBTQ+ social group called Out On The Town. I’d love for readers to visit our website and join us for our upcoming cocktail reception. It’s a safe group for us to come together and mingle over cocktails.