Meet Michael James Leslie ... He Keeps on Rollin' Along!

Posted by: Pia Haas on Monday, October 12, 2015 at 12:00:00 am

Michael James Leslie plays Joe in Show Boat..  He sings the musical's most famous song, "Ol' Man River". Joe is a sort of one-man, singing "Greek chorus", who comments in song by comparing what is going on in the story to "Ol' Man River", who "just keeps rollin' along".


Michael with Inga Ballard (as Queenie)

I am from Brielle, New Jersey on the Jersey Shore.  I went to Brielle Grammar School, Manasquan High School, graduated Rutgers College and Cornell Law School.  I was raised with a single mother with 7 siblings.  She believed very strongly in education and hence there are 2 lawyers, 1 doctor, a psychiatric nurse, and an architect in the family.  

My mother loved the theater and frequently took me to concerts, stage plays, and night club acts such as The Supremes, Lena Horne etc.  My first show that I saw was the Pearl Bailey/Cab Calloway "Hello Dolly" and I was hooked.

 I have known about this musical since childhood.  I was also aware of Paul Robeson because there were similarities in our lives.  We both went to Rutgers, were members of the Rutgers Glee Club, we both went to law schools but opted for show business instead.  Our birthdays are 5 days apart.  I have seen both movies but prefer the 1936 version with Robeson, Irene Dunne, Hattie McDaniels, Helen Morgan, and Alan Jones.

 Stage Musicals made into films? In most cases, they have not been very good because Hollywood opts for "names" rather than true musical talent.

WBT is an interesting theater with some challenges, not the least of which is the stage.   The thing I care most about when doing a show is being respected which has to be earned as well as given. 

Some favorite show are The Drowsy Chaperone, Something Rotten, The Book of Mormon, Company, Dreamgirls, A Little Night Music, Ragtime.  Dream role: Sweeney in Sweeney Todd.

 When you're not on stage, I enjoy Listening to music, working on my voice (a continual process), watching old black and white movies.

 I love all music as long as it is good.  So I listen to everything from Opera to jazz, to R&B, to country, to gospel and spiritual music.


Private comment posted on May 14, 2020 at 4:29:36 pm

And you do have a voice! Definitely don't need a microphone. Next to you, Caruso was a mute!!! You were fantastic. Can't believe the range you have -- Positively wonderful! And your Mother must be a Saint! To have done such a brilliant job raising 8 children, especially in today's world, is unheard of. Have a wonderful run -- And best wishes for a continued brilliant career.
Posted by: Annette Smith on October 12, 2015 at 1:52:26 pm

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