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STARTING OUT

How did you get started in theater?
My cousin was involved and when I
was young  she got me involved. Also,
to be honest I sang and acted to every
Judy Garland movie as far back as I can
remember.

What hooked you?
I think it was the fact that on stage I was
more than just a fat kid with glasses.  

Was it your first school play-movie-first time seeing a Broadway  show?
When I was in junior high I saw "The Me Nobody Knows" and it changed my life 

What inspired you to be where you are today?
The energy you feel, and my cousin Estelle Fusco a veteran Long Island Performer.

What was the first play you ever saw?
Mame  

Ever performed in?
Harvey

Did you study acting?
Yes   if not, how did you get into it?



GETTING IN

What was your first audition?  
Harvey in Jr. High

How do you choose what play you will audition for? (The piece itself, the director, theater, you were precast, etc. )
It depends, usually the show and the part. Then the theatre, the director. Is there a good song or two to sing? Will this be a challange. Can I grow as an actor?


Speaking of precasting, tell us how you really feel about the subject.
In certain instances it is necessary on Long Island, especially these past few years. It costs money to put up a show and there are so many theaters, actors can pick and choose. Also, why choose a show and not get the proper leading players. A good precast is fair to the producer, the director and the actors. Sometimes even beneficial, you can get a good supporting cast on the strength of good leads. "Oh she is in it, I have been dying to do a show with her."  The flip side is when directors precast based upon their inability to get a date without it or because it is just easier than actually having to take on the responsibility of directing, as opposed to the traffic control you get from many directors on the island.

What types of parts do you normally play?
Character

Do you feel typecast?
No

Looking back on the roles you've been cast in, do you think there's a certain kind of role you get cast in repeatedly?
No

When directors look at a certain role, what do you think they see as a "Michael DeVito" type?
Strong singer,  can be larger than life, easy to work with,  moves good for his size, funny,



CHARACTERIZATION

What is your approach to developing your character?
I read and re read the script many times, and look for my character in the script first, then I look within me and try to incorporate my life and my characters life.

Of all the characters you have portrayed, who is your favorite?
Sister Mary  Amnesia in "Nunsense Ahh Men"

What do you think were your best roles? 
Sister Mary Amnesia, Nicely Nicely Johnson, The Lion, in The Wiz.

Your worst?
Marcus Lycus and Ali Hakim

What roles offered you the greatest challenge and why?
Sister Mary Amnesia, she was so different from any other character I had ever played. She was quiet, and innocent, and a nun.
How well do you think you met the challenge?
I am very proud of how the character turned out.

What role do you wish you could have a second shot at and get it right this time?
none

What roles or types of roles would you most like to play in the future?
Handsome thin male leading roles.  For real what I will get, strong memorable character parts and I will be happy.



MOTIVATION

How do you feel when you perform?
JOYFUL

What motivates you to keep on doing what you're doing?
My ego, the need to perform for an audience, the need to sing.

During opening night jitters each one of us has said, "Why do I do this to
myself?" Why do you do it?
Because other than food and sex there is nothing better.



SHARING

What is your favorite theater story?
It is not mine, it is one I read about Tallulah Bankhead, many years ago, she was performing on Broadway as a supporting lead, no longer the ingenue, and the young girl playing the lead had made many disparaging comments during the rehearsal period regarding Ms.
Bankhead and the fact that she was on the way out so to speak. And it was only out of the producers good will that she was even in the show. Ms Bankhead did indeed need the job but, that kind of attitude was uncalled for.   Well Ms. Bankhead on opening night let it be known that she could steal the scene from this actress without even being on stage.
So, during the play the young actress had this long emotional intricate to the plot monologue.  Just prior to the speech, Ms. Bankhead was required to walk from one side of the stage to the other answer a ringing phone and exit.  Well, upon her entrance she was carrying a champagne glass and when she answered the phone she left the glass hanging on the edge of the table the phone was on. It was literally ready to fall off. She then left the stage and the young actress proceeded to begin her speech. Well, within 1 min of her speech she had lost the entire audience as they were so engrossed as to whether the glass would fall or not, such was the hazardous placement of the object. When tittering and actual talking began the young actress left the stage in tears. Not even completing her monologue.  It seems Talluah had stuck a piece of gum under the glass bottom just prior to placing it on the table. Needless to say things changed backstage after that.

Did you ever miss an entrance, drop enough lines for it to be noticeable,
crack up on stage?
Well once during Kismet, we did get a bit out of control with the different things we hid in the "pool" on stage each night.

What was your worst theater experience?
Every experience has its ups and downs I really can't and don't want to focus on a "worst" experience.

What's the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you on stage?
I sat on a bench during Sit Down You're Rocking The Boat and the bench broke, but as myself and 5 other cast members were on the bench already, we squatted like it was holding us until the scene ended and the lights went out.



OTHERS

Why do you perform at the theaters you do?
The proximity to my job and home, and the attitude of the producers. I like to work where I am treated like an equal where I am given credit for having a brain and my opionion is not immediatly discounted, where I am not looked on as a disposable commodity.

Do you think regional theater will continue to grow on L. I. ?
I don't know if it will grow but it will change

Who are some of the actors you've most admired or who have been particularly rewarding to work with?
Scott Hofer, Pegg Winter, Emily Nadler Klein, Rob Jones, Ed Brennan



LIFE ISSUES

How do you maintain your career and do theater?
I don't know I just do it, I do space my shows out. No more 2 in a row.

Why do you spend so much time toiling in L. I.  Theater?
Because I have not had the chance yet to toil in Manhattan Theaters.

Do you find that your family supports your love of theater?
To a point, I really don't think they get it, they kind of look at it as "oh your in a play, that's nice, how long is it, are you getting paid?

How has performing enriched your life?
In so many ways, I have been blessed to acquire knowledge, joy and wonderful wonderful friends.



FUN

What brings you the greatest joy?
When you are on stage and you know that you have the audience in your palm and your joy or pain carries over the footlights to them.

What really irks you?
The unprofessional attitude of some actors, the (and this will date me) lack of background knowledge of music and theatre pre "Rent" in so many younger actors today. The disdain some theatre owners have
for their actors, and their needs and feelings and actual desire to be the
best they can be. And yes we need heat to rehearse in the winter and yes we need a costume we are tired of supplying our own clothes, and "Yes, you knew I was this fat when you cast me."  Also, the fact that just because you want to be the best you can be, and you want to go over that song more than one time, and yes it would be nice to have props before opening weekend is over and, who is the director and why is
he outside smoking all the time, you can be called a DIVA, I call that a
professional. Sorry!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you won LOTTO tomorrow you would...
Open a Theatre, after my cruise around the world with very handsome Italian sailors of course.

Is it true that you'd really rather be rich than good looking?
Hell if you are rich you can surgery yourself to good looking.

What's your favorite word(s)?
Standing ovation!!!!!!!!!!!

When you reach the pearly gates what do you want St. Peter to say?
Yes, Judy is here.



CROSSOVER

If you also direct, which do you prefer and why?
No preference, it just depends on how my soul needs to be nurtured at the time. Each, is hard, educational, and worthwhile, and each needs a different part of you, so it depends on my emotional situation.

MICHAEL DEVITO
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An Interview with... Michael DeVito
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