Eric Michael Gillett is a MAC and Bistro Award winning vocalist who is considered to be the foremost interpreter of Broadway and cabaret composer Craig Carneila's music. Eric Michael's cabaret show "Cast of Thousands: Gillett sings Carnelia" was first performed 15 years ago and now Eric Michael is revisiting it for the first time in 15 years at the Laurie Beechman Theatre in NYC for a limited run!
Eric Michael's other cabaret shows have included "It Takes Two-Duets of Stephen Sondheim" and his critically lauded collection of radio songs of the past forty years, Hook, Line, & Singer." He has appeared on Broadway in "Kiss Me Kate," "Sweet Smell of Success," and "The Frogs" while Off-Broadway audiences have seen him in "Dream a Little Dream," "Silent Laughter," "Good Companions," "Of Thee I Sing," "Time and Again," in the York Theatre's workshop of the new musical "The Tutor," New York City Opera's productions of "Cinderella," "The Pirates of Penzance," and "Candide." His regional credits include "Carnival" (Paper Mill Playhouse), "Sleuth" (Hanger Theatre), and "Evita" (Oklahoma Lyric).
As a director, Eric Michael has directed various concert and cabaret shows such as the premiere performances of Scott Siegel's "Broadway By The Year," Grammy Award Winner Lari White and Tony Nominee Karen Akers at the Algonquin Hotel's Oak Room in NYC, and KT Sullivan's "Autumn in New York."
In addition to theatre and cabaret, Eric Michael was the ringmaster of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Baily Circus for 12 years, touring the continental US, appeared in such radio and television programs as "The Return of Gunther Gebel-Williams, the Walt Disney Sing-A-Long video "Lets Go To The Circus," "Law & Order," "Law & Order: SVU," and "Ed" as well as the feature films "Maid In Manhattan" and "The Producers."
Now Eric Michael is coming home to revisit the music he loves most, Craig Carnelia. So, come on down to the Laurie Beechman Theatre in NYC and see Eric Michael sing "Cast of Thousands: Gillett sings Carnelia" on June 22 and 29, July 11 and 18 at 7pm. The Laurie Beechman Theatre is located at 407 West 42nd Street, between 9th & 10th Avenue. For tickets, click here!
For much more on Eric Michael be sure to visit http://www.ericmichaelgillett.com!
1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? Believe it or not, my mother introduced me to the theater when I was very young and those first experiences were what made me want to perform. I saw Mary Martin and Cyril Ritchard in the original "Peter Pan" when Edwin Lester presented it in Los Angeles. We sat high up in the balconies, which had a very steep rake, so it felt like we were looking straight down onto the stage. When Mary Martin first flew in the window of the Darling house in London, I was hooked.
2. Who is the one person you haven't worked with that you would like to? I've been fortunate enough to work with most of the people I truly admire over the years, performers and directors alike. But, if I had to narrow it down to the select few who are left, I'd say a full production with Hal Prince at the helm.
3. What originally attracted you to interpret Craig Carnelia's music? Ever since I first heard Craig's work on the original cast album of "Is There Life After High School," I've been drawn to his songwriting. He has a unique ability to capture the specifics in our lives in a way that, somehow, makes every experience about which he writes incredibly universal. As an actor and a singer, performing his music is the closest thing to heaven I can imagine. Every song fulfills me.
4. What made now the right time for you to revisit "Cast of Thousands: Gillett sings Carnelia" and what excites you most about performing this music again? When I developed the original version of "Cast of Thousands," it was always my intention to continue working on it with an eye toward turning it into a full theatrical evening. Over the past few years, a lot of life experiences led me back to Craig's songs and made me look at the original project in a different light. I sang through the material and realized that I had changed so much in the past 15 years, as had Craig. More importantly, Craig's catalogue of music had grown tremendously since we first did "Cast" and, as a result, there was not only new material but, also, new experience to bring to the table.
5. Do you think the past 15 years have given you a new perspective on Carnelia's music and the way you interpret it? If so, what is your new perspective and interpretation? There have been so many victories and defeats, so many wins, so many losses, in the fifteen years since I mounted the first version of "Cast of Thousands." I lost my mom, I left my job as ringmaster of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, I've been through two failed long-term relationships. But, in addition, there have been huge growth spurts. I realized my lifelong dream of working on Broadway, began a career as a voice teacher and director of plays and concert acts. At the end of the day, there have been so many changes and each and every one of them informs the way I interpret this material. More importantly, the last years have brought remarkably creative people into my life, among them my musical director, Jeff Cubeta, and my amazing director, Arthur Masella, both of whom have enriched this experience in innumerable ways.
6. If you couldn't be doing what you are doing now, what career would you choose? If I could do any single thing in my life, it would be direct. Because I maintain a full-time performing career, I seldom have the time to pursue directing at the level I would like to work. After directing this season's Big Apple Circus, and having just returned from mounting several plays at the Montreal Fringe Festival, I have realized that my full-time love is in that field. Failing that, I would be a teacher first, last, and always.
7. Favorite place to practice/rehearse on your own? I rehearse and practice at my studio at Singers Forum in Manhattan. It's by far my favorite place to work.
8. Favorite way to spend your day off? My favorite day off is spent with my friends Cookie and Richard, simply sharing a meal and a lot of laughs.
9. Favorite website? YouTube.
10. "Mary" or "Rhoda"? Definitely "Rhoda."
11. What's the best advice you've ever received? You can never be any good unless you stop being afraid that people won't like you.
12. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? Believe it or not, it would be my mom. She was a major influence and I miss her every day. On some level, I think I'll always dream about her and will always wish I could run into her one more time, in the conscious or the unconscious plane.