Meet Willam Michals.. Kate's Foil..

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Posted by: Pia Haas on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 12:00:00 pm

William Michals Plays Fred/Petruchio in Kiss Me Kate. Some insights here on what makes him such a dynamic performer!

 

I grew up in Cranford New Jersey, but spent my summers down in Spring Lake New Jersey, right on the ocean in Monmouth County. There is a precious little jewel box of a community theater building there, and I spent my summers lifeguarding during the day, and doing musicals in the evenings! It was a beautiful time.  South Pacific, Carousel, The King and I, H.M.S. Pinafore, The Boyfriend, Grease, etc.

My late father Bill Michals Sr. was an attorney in New Jersey, but he had the most beautiful, rich, lyric baritone you ever could imagine. He loved to sing, and I miss him very much. However, it was my beautiful mom, currently a resident in Spring Lake New Jersey, who encouraged me to sing as a little kid, and I've been singing in choirs and school shows as long as I can remember. My late uncle Raymond Michalski was a leading bass at the Metropolitan Opera, but he passed away before my teens. When we were young, every family event would wind up around the piano, singing great music from Handel's Messiah, Broadway, opera, art songs, concert songs from the first half of the 20th century, or some more popular in recent stuff. But the sound of my family's  voices, especially the men on my father's side of the family, always rings in my ears; I am certain that my vocal quality and timbre is as genetically inherited as any other physical trait.

I always did theater while growing up, and studied Opera at Boston U, but my major was international relations. Didn't know what to do with that after college, so I gave myself a little time to be certain I wanted to be a performing artist… And, voilà! I segued professionally from opera into musical theater in '92, and never looked back! I specifically remember seeing the original productions of Evita and Amadeus on Broadway, and getting really excited about the art form.

I suppose I first saw Kiss Me Kate as a film, maybe 20 or 25 years ago. I learned "Where the life that late I led?", and "were thine that special face" for my audition book years ago, and I currently sing them, along with "So In Love" in my solo concerts. In fact, those three songs are featured on my CD, which is on sale at the theater now.

I've seen a revival or two of Kiss Me Kate  on Broadway over the years, but the opportunity hadn't arisen to play the part. The chance to work with Jim Brennan, and to (finally!) work with you folks at Westchester Broadway Theatre sealed the deal. 

This is the first time I have tackled the role, and it's been very challenging, but a heck of a lot of fun! Especially with only a week and a half to learn it – whew! Getting Shakespeare's language, cadence, and rhythms in one's body is always a challenge. But, in this play, I am actually playing Fred Graham playing Petruchio, and Fred's character is the one that must come through more than Shakespeare's Petruchio.  I'm blessed to be working in this wonderful field, and a classic piece of theater, with these sublime songs, allows me to say that my current project feels like my favorite!

Any chance I get, I head down to the beach at the Jersey shore, and ride some waves, or go for a long swim up the coast. However, being a father to two teenagers, I truly get the most satisfaction from helping them navigate the college process, schoolwork, and those magical, challenging years.

On My Ipod? Ha! Sometimes I think I hardly have time to listen to music. But I was letting myself indulge in the thrilling magnificence of Verdi's Requiem the other day. There's nothing like bathing in the shimmering and bone-rattling experience of that music in a great car stereo system!

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