Sorry for the delay but here is the interview that you have all been waiting for! My interview with our featured celebrity performer for September, the wonderfully talented Michael Holland!
For those of you who don't know him, Michael Holland is a composer/lyricist/orchestrator/music director/guitarist/ keyboardist/singer - basically, when the phone rings, he says yes. As composer/lyricist, shows include Horizon Line (NEXT Festival 2014; in development with Theatre Latté Da, Minneapolis), You’re Gonna Hate This (54 Below, 2017, Joe’s Pub 2013; in development), Hurricane (New York Musical Theatre Festival 2009), and a few he doesn’t want to talk about yet. He was the orchestrator/vocal arranger for the 2011 Broadway revival of Godspell, as well as one of the producers of the cast recording. Recent orchestration credits include Emma! A Pop musical for Stageworks (2015), Disco Party and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever for Playscripts (both 2016). He has composed incidental music for The Alley Theatre, Bay Street Theater, Bucks County Playhouse, The Old Globe, Playwrights Horizons, Dallas Theatre Center, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Juilliard, and NYU Tisch. From 2001-2013, he was a performer/musical director/arranger of the multi-award winning NYC favorite Gashole! - an irreverent, pop music mashup cabaret. Recordings include four solo CDs of original music, as well as the world premiere of “Another Day in the Modern World” on The Maury Yeston Songbook (ps classics). Upcoming: Clue On Stage (incidental music, Cape Playhouse, August 2018); The Great Gatsby (incidental music, Bay Street Theater, November 2018); You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown (music direction/new orchestrations, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, spring 2019). Woefully neglected website: michaelholland.com
I first experienced working with Michael at one of Lennie Watt's arrangement experience bootcamps and was instantly blown away by the beauty of the music he created (since then, I've experienced two more)!
Michael is amazingly creative and comes up
with some of the most beautiful arrangements for songs that I would hate before the class and later on come to love! It is hard to explain! You will have to experience it to know what I mean!
Without further ado, here's the interview:
1) Can you share with us some interesting facts that most people don’t know about you?
I never mention this, but there was a period of my life when I was homeless in Alaska... my sister and my dad lived in his truck, and my mom and I in her car. It wasn't that difficult, because we knew it was only temporary, and besides, we could always just drive to my gigs. There was a folk club, kind of a coffeehouse situation, and they would let us camp out in their parking lot on the nights I was appearing there. Times were tough, but we got through it. I need to thank my good friend Tracy Stark for finally getting me to talk about this! Hopefully it will inspire other homeless Alaskans to keep writing those songs!
2) You are an amazing musical director, musician, teacher, performer, composer, lyricist and so much more. What kicked off your passion for music?
Pretty much the fact that I can't do anything else... not that I'd want to. My mom taught me how to sing simple harmony with the radio when I was about 3, so it was just always something I did. When I was a kid, I wasn't sure if I wanted to be a musician, an actor, an artist, or straight - but when I heard "Bohemian Rhapsody" for the first time, my fate was sealed.
3) Do you have a couple of particularly interesting stories that you'd like to share with the readers?
So shortly before the homelessness chapter - you're not gonna believe this - we actually owned a giraffe. A small circus in the area went out of business, and they sold off everything - and my dad got a great deal on this giraffe named Leon. We tried to change it, but he wouldn't answer to anything else. Anyway, we thought we might make money exhibiting him, or throwing a saddle on him for the kids - but he was pretty untrainable. He would just kind of run around the yard in circles all day, though he seemed pretty happy. The only thing that would quiet him down would be when I was practicing piano - we'd have to take the screen out of the window so he could stick his head in and listen - even in the winter! He didn't seem to mind the snow either; he'd get down on his knees and make these weird-looking giraffe-snow-angel things. Leon was a good giraffe, but he fell off the roof one day (long story), and then we ran out of money and the rest is Alaskan homeless history.
4) What motivates your creativity and passion for life? Name three things that never fails to put a smile on your face!
1.) When the check clears.
2.) When it's cash instead of a check.
3.) When a cat runs.
Honestly, the secret for me is to take the work seriously, but not take myself seriously at all - and to keep learning. And, as my grandmother used to say, "Drink a lot of water, even when you don't want it, and you won't get wrinkles." This has turned out to be one of the most important truths in my life. (She also sagely advised: "Stand up straight and people will think you have money.")
5) Share with us what you have in the pipeline for us to be on the lookout for!
I'm writing an incidental score for The Great Gatsby for Bay Street Theatre this fall (actually, I'm supposed to be writing it, but I'm answering these questions right now, so I'd better get started), and doing new orchestrations, vocal arrangements, Oxford commas, and music direction for an actor-musician version of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown for Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park this spring. Trying to land a couple of other writing jobs as well. And I've been trying to get back to writing my Life of Leon musical, but so far the best rhyme I can come up with has been "carafe," and I don't drink anymore.
Wow! What a story! Michael tell's wonderful stories with his music and this interview gave a glimpse of more! Come next Friday, September 21st to experience for yourself! You don't want to miss this!
- COME SING WITH AWARD WINNING MUSICAL DIRECTOR TRACY STARK AND TELL US WHAT YOU HAVE UPCOMING!
- ALSO COME FOR THE RAFFLE RESULTS OF THE HEADSHOT! YOU GOTTA BE THERE TO WIN IT!!
Hope to see you at the SPOTLIGHT!!