Enthralled by theater, even on his off days

A Drink With Michael Ross

October 30, 2005|By SLOANE BROWN

Michael Ross has been the managing director of Center Stage since 2002. He was previously managing director of the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Conn. We caught up with him at Nina's Espresso Bar, where Ross drank a vanilla latte.

You've been in the theater business how long?

Twenty-five years. In college, when I switched from being an accounting major to being a theater major, my father said, "You'll never make a living doing theater." Twenty-five years later, I still make a living doing theater.

Is going to the theater for you like taking a busman's holiday?

It's not. That's what's funny. I go to a play at least twice a week. Some of it is obligations, but so much of it is because I'm interested. ... In fact, it's frustrating that there are more plays out there that I want to see that I can't actually get to. The other thing about it that I like is talking about theater. What people have seen. How they respond to something. The only time I don't like to talk about theater is when I'm working out at the Downtown Athletic Club in the early morning. That's my meditation time.

What are your favorite kinds of shows?

It's funny. I think people who know me know that I love to laugh. I love to goof around on things. But, what I most like to see are serious pieces - drama, social-issue plays.

And what about those big Broadway musicals?

(He laughs.) I rarely go to those. I like [Stephen] Sondheim. If they're the more serious musicals, they interest me.

Do you have a couple of all-time favorite plays that you could see again and again?

I could see [Tennessee Williams'] The Glass Menagerie over and over. Different actors doing it, different takes on it. Sally Field doing it last summer at the Kennedy Center. I've seen Glass Menagerie at least 15 times, but that production had me crying.

OK. Now why this particular drink?

(He laughs.) Although I go to a lot of cocktail parties, I don't drink. I'll have a glass of wine and I will walk around with that same glass of wine all night long, which gives the perception of drinking at a cocktail party. Truth be told, I have - on occasion - dumped it into the kitchen sink, so it looks like I've drunk it.

So, once again, your theater experience comes into play.

That's right. I'm acting! Because isn't everything really acting?!

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