Hi Michael! So, tell us, how did you get started in musical theatre?
I got started in theater at a very young age back in South Carolina. I grew up performing with my twin brother Ryan (who is also an actor) at our church, and found that I had a big love for performing. My first musical was at a local community theater playing John Darling in a production of Peter Pan. The theater hired this flying team from Vegas so I got the whole nine yards for my first “big” show and of course I had to do more. I didn’t really start studying musical theater professionally until college. Before that I really wanted to be a strict actor. I was always fascinated with plays and Shakespeare growing up. My twin and I did an after school drama program all through middle and high school until I eventually went away to study acting at the North Carolina School of the Arts for my senior year of high school. After that year I realized I wanted something more. I loved to sing and dance and knew that I needed a program that would really help me in those areas. So I looked elsewhere for colleges and eventually I ended up at the Boston Conservatory. I’m so thankful I found this program and that I got my education there. I never had a private voice lesson or a dance lesson until college so BoCo really kicked my butt and whipped me into shape fast. I found out in college actually that I really loved to dance so I took extra classes and worked really hard to try to catch up to my peers who were beautiful dancers. So to answer your question, I came to musical theater in a very long about way but deep down always had a passion for shows that had all three elements. There really is something special about being able to tell a story through song and dance.
What have been some of your favorite shows to perform in so far?
I would say I have two shows that have definitely been highlights in my career. The first was playing “Angel” in RENT at Maine State Music Theater. I’ll never forget when I got cast as Angel. I thought “ME? A tall broad white boy??” But I really couldn’t be more grateful for that role. It was life changing. Such an amazing show to begin with and a beautifully fun, light, generous, character that I could do every night if I was given the chance. Another amazing experience was playing “Woof” in Hair. That is another show that tells such an awesome story and to be a part of a tribe getting to literally play on stage was so rewarding. Also I did Hair at a theater where I also did three other shows that summer so it was truly a real summer stock experience. And I got to get really close with everyone there so it made it extra special. Dance wise I’ve had some awesome experiences. I did this new Lady Gaga musical once in college that had amazing choreography and it was something I don’t get to do often. And of course the classics: Chicago, A Chorus Line, Anything Goes have all been dream shows to dance and be a part of.
I did get a chance to teach dance to the CCM musical theater majors. That was so much fun. I was blown away by the talent of these kids. I would say my biggest advice is to be really good at networking. You have to remember that this is a business. And you are in business for yourself. You have to take classes that get you relationships with the people you want to have a relationship with. I am constantly taking class at Broadway Dance Center, doing workshops through StageDoor Connections, The Growing Studio, etc. You have to be hungry because New York City does not wait or stop for anyone. We live in an age where everything is digital so make an audition reel. Get your website together. You have so little control on what happens in an audition so get together the little things that you do have control over. And at the end of the day be good to yourself. Remind yourself the great things about yourself and just keep living. Don’t ever compare your success to someone else. Just taking on each day is a success. Life is a journey so just be open for the ride. Also a side note, I think everyone should travel as much as they can. You learn so much about yourself when you travel the world and it does so much good for your spirit.
Speaking of travel, have you sampled any of our local cuisine or had time to check out any of our attractions?
I think the food in this area is amazing!! I’m a southern boy so I love good comforting food. I haven’t had much food in Cincinnati except for this Mexican restaurant called “Nada.” It was delicious. My favorite spots in Dayton are Olives Urban Spoon, The Butter Café, and Melodee’s. I mean those places make amazing food if you’re into from scratch pancakes, soups, fried chicken, burgers. I did get a chance to go out to Yellow Springs and see Young’s Dairy. That was awesome! Being here for the fall was really awesome because Ohio has awesome fall activities. I did a corn maze for the first time so that was really fun.
Right now I have a few options on the table. But my goal is to probably stay in New York City for audition season for the first time ever. Right out of college I did the Shrek tour. I took time off in college even to do a tour and then a cruise ship. And then right after Shrek I did a show on Norwegian Cruise Lines so I’m kind of ready to stay in NYC longer then a month and see what opportunities could come up. I have an awesome apartment there and I’m never there to fully enjoy it. But I do have some regional gigs I’m up for so we’ll see. A performer’s life is always on the go. And always so up in the air. I was actually dancing at Jacob’s Pillow in August not knowing where my next gig was and then I thankfully got “Mame” here at the Human Race a week after. So fingers crossed I can book something else soon. You can totally follow me on my website at www.michaelmccrary.net . There’s links there to my Twitter. You can email me there. A bunch of fun stuff.
Thank you, Michael!
MAME runs at Human Race Theatre through November 23rd. More information and tickets can be found here.