Interview with Michael Halling
I don't know if Michael is the youngest member of the company, but he's in that range somewhere. This is his Broadway debut and he was hired as a member of the ensemble for the new version of the show in October. Oh yeah, he also had one other skill that they were interested in, but I think I'll let him tell that story himself. (I'll give you a hint - he's well over six feet tall.)
NR: I understand you grew up in Minnesota. Can you tell me a little bit about it?
MH: Let me qualify that. Actually, my formative years were in New Hampshire. I spent 11 years there. I was born in Minnesota and then I moved out to New Hampshire for 11 years. Then I moved back to Minnesota in fifth grade, and then eighth grade came around and we moved back to New Hampshire, and then my senior year we moved back to Minnesota. So I've lived...
NR: ...in the snow belt either way!
MH: Exactly. I lived 15 years in New Hampshire and I guess another 10 years in Minnesota. That's where my family is now and that's kind of how it happened. My dad was working for Eastern Airlines. He was a pilot for them. After it all fizzled out and the airline went bankrupt, we didn't have anything tying us to the east coast so we moved back to Minnesota. Both of my parents' relatives live there.
NR: When did you decide you wanted to perform?
MH: I think right out of the womb. I think I decided really early on. I was probably 4 or 5. For instance, I cried really LOUD. I was a crybaby when I was young, so I think from the get-go I was really expressive and a communicator.
NR: Sort of like a "show-off kid?"
MH: Yeah. And then I was the entertainer when I was younger.
NR: Did anyone in particular inspire you?
MH: My mom was a big inspiration for me. She was an actress, a semi-professional singer-actress out in the Midwest belt and also somewhat in New Hampshire. She was a kind of an inspiration for me. She actually directed me in some stuff when I was in junior high. She was a big inspiration and encourager. I've always loved movies and theater, so I was always inspired. Annie was the first Broadway show I saw, that or King and I. I loved it then.
NR: How often did you get to Broadway?
MH: Not too often, but when we came to New York we would always go see a show. I saw King and I, Annie, and Into the Woods.
NR: What type of training did you get?
MH: My first two years of college I went to San Diego, University of San Diego. That was nice actually to be out there for a couple of years. I went there on a vocal scholarship. That was a really great way to get a great education at almost no cost, and it was a pretty high tuition too, so it was a really great deal. It was probably one of the more unusual deals in the country for singers, to be able to get that kind of a break. And then I realized that I didn't want to be doing that anymore. I wanted to do more solo stuff. I wanted to just concentrate more on myself than just doing the chorus/choir stuff. So, I decided to transfer to the University of Minnesota, which I was familiar with and where they had great programs in theater, in performing, and acting. I realized I really wanted to do that. I had been studying journalism in San Diego so I decided to nix that and really go full throttle in theater and just do it myself.
NR: How long ago did you graduate from college?
MH: Two years ago.
NR: Wow, that's great. So you got here in only two years. That's incredible.
MH: Yeah, it was pretty neat. I moved out here with friends from college. I finished up at the University of Minnesota and I took voice privately. I just kept going and did the "acting theater" thing academically as my major, and it all combined to work out well.
NR: You came to New York right after you graduated?
MH: Yeah. I spent a summer out there and got my Equity card doing a small southern Minnesota show, Joseph (and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat). I think I'm the tallest Joseph on record. Then I came out here in September. I was just talking to friends in my senior year and said, "Anyone want to go to New York?" and we gathered three of us and moved out here. So, we're still sort of all together in Queens but a couple of us have left and moved out. And then there are other people who have moved in, but there's a huge sort of "Minnesota contingent" out here so I've had a lot of support.
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