Thursday, October 6, 2016

Spotlight On...Michael Thurber

Name:  Michael Thurber

Hometown: LaSalle, MI

Education: Juilliard

Select Credits: "Late Show With Stephen Colbert." "Antony and Cleopatra" at The Public Theater.  “Goddess” at the 2013 Eugene O’Neill Theater Conference.

Why theater?:  There’s few other art forms that require so many layers of storytelling.  Music, words (both spoken and sung), lights, set design, acting, dancing, etc.  And all of those elements have to come together in just the right way for a story to shine and a soul to be stirred.  When it all happens right, there’s nothing like it.  It’s pure magic.  I love the challenge and the amount of problem solving that has to happen to make it all come together.

Who do you play in The Booty Call?: Gabe, a 28 year old musician.

Tell us about The Booty Call: Gabe gets a booty call while at home, creating demo recordings of his new songs. The call sends him off on an existential musing of his past experiences with love and intimacy. The whole show takes place in his bedroom/recording studio and all of the music is generated live by me, actually playing and recording multiple instruments while singing.  Lyrically, the show examines straight-male sexuality and all of the insecurities that surround it.  It calls into question some of the machismo stereotypes about masculinity and libido.  The music is a fun, grooving mix of electric and acoustic sounds inspired by R&B and Club music.

What is it like being a part of Inner Voices?:  It’s incredible.  The idea of one-act, one-person musicals is brilliant.  It’s essentially a sung monologue and there is just so much you can do with that.  The creator, Paulette Haupt, is one of the smartest, warmest, most courageous women I have ever met.  So it is humbling to be commissioned by her and learn from her wisdom about making musicals.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?:  I like theater that gets to the core of a human truth.  Because when you get to the core of a truth, a really cool paradox happens…on one hand you feel more understood and less alone because a truth is something everyone can identify with...but on the other hand, you end up with more questions than answers because a truth forces you to examine other things you think you know.  I love that duality.  You get to feel comfort, but you also get challenged to grow.  A few of my musical inspirations are Edgar Meyer, D’Angelo, Debussy, Michael Jackson, Leonard Bernstein and Miles Davis.  My favorite theater writers are Adam Guettel, Benjamin Scheuer and Lin Manuel Miranda.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: I would love to play Sweeney Todd, the Lion from The Wiz, or Berger in Hair.

What’s your favorite show tune?: It changes all the time but right now it’s “Dividing Day” from Light In The Piazza.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: I’d love to write a show for Rebecca Naomi Jones and/or Kelli O’Hara.  I would love to work with Directors Tommy Kail or Rachel Chavkin.  And I’d love to write a show with Lin Manuel.  And I’m still searching for my dream librettist, so if she/he is out there, I want to work with them, too!

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Tom Hanks would play me and it’d be called Forrest Gump.

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: I would have loved to see Shakespeare in action, any of his plays.  I also would have loved to see the original production of West Side Story.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Murder Ballad is an incredible musical that I told everyone about when it was running.  I also really loved Branden Jacobs Jenkins’ play Gloria. And School Of Rock was AWESOME!

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: A cheeseburger and fries with a pint of cheap beer.

What’s up next?: I just finished a Violin Concerto for rising star violinist Tessa Lark, which will be premiered in 2017.  I have a dance piece opening in Dallas in November with choreographer Tiffany Rae Fisher and Dallas Black Dance Theater.  And there’s 2 amazing new theater commissions in the works but I can’t say anything yet :)

For more on Inner Voices, visit