After graduating from the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theatre B.F.A. Actor Training Program, Michael moved to New York to act with the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. His most recent performances include Romeo in Shakespeare’s ROMEO AND JULIET (Southwest Shakespeare Company) and Ben in WE HAPPY ANIMALS (Samuel French off-off-Broadway New Play Festival). Michael also appeared in Sanguine Theatre Company’s off-off Broadway show BEES AND LIONS by Sarah M. Duncan and received a favorable review:
We recently caught up with Michael. Here's what he had to say about his experience at First Stage.
As a young performer what shows were you in?
On the main stage I performed in A WRINKLE IN TIME (1999) and THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER (2000). With the Company Class I was in ZERO TOLERANCE and A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM.
What was your favorite show/character at First Stage? Why? That's a tough one. I'd have to break it down into categories. Which was the most fun to play? Without a doubt it’s Ralph Herdman from THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER. The bad guys are always the most fun to play.
On the other hand, I learned a lot about acting theory working with Angela Iannone on ZERO TOLERANCE. It was the first time I got to explore a character that was truly saddened and disturbed by something (the show was about violence in schools). I was glad to have Angela there to simplify it all -- she always brought it back to what the character needed; why he couldn’t get it; how that affected him. It was important for me to hear and it stuck with me.
In A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, however, I learned another important part of acting for the stage. John Maclay challenged us to “be big,” to fill the space with our actions and our words. I’m a huge Shakespeare fan and I owe a lot of it to John for taking Shakespeare out of the classroom and giving me, and all of us there, the chance to experience how energetic and alive Shakespeare’s text continues to be even today.
I suppose those are my favorite memories from First Stage shows. Each taught me something I still carry with me today. Fill the space. Tell the truth. Have fun and play. I would be a very different actor, I think, if First Stage hadn’t taught me so much so early.
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