Spotlight on Michel Pawk
by Nancy Rosati     


Michele Pawk has had quite a varied career. She received Drama Desk Nominations for such shows as Cabaret (Fraulein Kost) and Crazy For You (Irene Roth). She can be found on many television shows including Law and Order, Quantum Leap and L.A. Law. In addition, she appeared in Michael John LaChiusaís Hello Again at Lincoln Center where she met actor John Dossett. John and Michele are now the proud parents of baby Jack who was born this past February.

Michele is currently in rehearsal for Seussical the Musical, which will begin its pre-Broadway tryout in Bostonís Colonial Theatre on August 27, 2000 and start previews at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on October 15, 2000 for a November 9th opening.

I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Michele and found her to be quite a pleasant surprise. Instead of a ďglamorous Broadway starĒ she is very down-to-earth and had me laughing in minutes. It just so happens that we met in my office after hours one afternoon in June. I have many photos hanging on my wall, and Michele and I discovered we have several acquaintances in common. We frequently strayed into discussions of what our friends were up to these days, but somehow managed to squeeze an interview in between the ďchit-chat.Ē She is completely charming and I am very much looking forward to seeing her performance in Seussical.

Michele and Kathleen  Marshall
with Kathleen Marshall
(choreographer "Seussical")
Nancy Rosati: First of all, tell me where you grew up.

Michele Pawk:  I grew up north of Pittsburgh, in a small little rural town. As a matter of fact I was just there. John and I took the baby to ďdo the family thingĒ before I start rehearsals for Seussical. That starts in two weeks so time is precious. Plus, heís four months old and itís such a great, happy, giggly time. We also went to his folksí house in North Carolina.

NR:  Did you always want to act and sing?

MP:  No I didnít. My dad reminded me while I was home that my mother begged him to put me in a dancing school because I would always fall down. I couldnít take four steps without falling down.

NR:  Youíre kidding me! How old were you?

MP:  I remember falling a lot. I never fell down steps, I would always fall up. I was just an uncoordinated kid. I was really tomboyish and athletic but not really that coordinated so they put me in dancing school and that sort of started it. I did all the high school musical stuff. I took piano lessons and I sang a lot. You know, when you grow up in a small, rural place like that, you donít really think, ďIím going to be an actress.Ē You think, ďIím going to go to college and be a lawyerĒ so I went to a small Liberal Arts school, Allegheny College. I spent two years there and at the end of the second year, they force you to declare a major. Itís ridiculous. Youíre twenty and you have to decide what you want to be for the rest of your life, so I totally panicked! My dad said, ďWhat do you love to do more than anything in the whole world?Ē I said, ďWell, I kind of like to be on stage more than anything.Ē Meanwhile I had been doing it ďextra-curricularly.Ē He said, ďThen you should do it.Ē I auditioned at a couple of musical theater schools, one being the College Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati, so I ended up going there.

NR:  Did you come right to New York after that?

After the Fair
"After the Fair", l-r James Ludwig, Michele, Jennifer Piech, and David Staller
MP:  No! Why? I donít know why I did what I did. You go to school for musical theater, it would make sense that you would go to New York ... . but not me. I went to L.A. For a year I went to Florida and I worked in that Broadway revue they had at the Contemporary Hotel in Disney World. I did that for a year and then I moved to L.A. I donít really know why. It was not that bright. I did a lot of guest stuff on television.

NR:  I noticed you have a lot of TV credits. So, you did that first. Was that fun?

MP:  Yeah!

NR:  Iíve heard thatís tough.

MP:  I really enjoyed it. I loved L.A. I lived there for six years. Itís just really different from New York. Thereís not the sense of community out there that there is here. Thereís a total different energy. I also liked the fact that I had a car and I would hop in it and go to the beach with my dog.

NR:  Thatís nice, but performing in a show like L.A. Law or Golden Girls ...

MP:  Yeah. That shows you how old I am. That tells you how long ago that was. You can see those shows on Nick at Nite now. Thatís how old I am! Itís a freaky thing, isnít it? I feel young and hip, but weíre involved in theater and that keeps us young. Everybodyís always the same age - whether theyíre 22 or whether theyíre 70 - weíre all in the same thing and itís a big family. So I think Iím really cool and with it ... and then I walk by a mirror. I have this image of what it is I look like and I look in a mirror and see that ďmiddle aged woman.Ē

NR:  Ouch! Donít say that. (laughing) Especially since Iím older than you!

MP:  But thatís what it is. And my friends who are 60 say the same thing.

NR:  (laughing) Letís get off this topic. Iím always interested in people who do TV and theater. Thereís a huge difference between them, isnít there?

MP:  The sitcom medium is most similar to the theater. Most of the time you perform in front of a live audience. Youíll break it up into 5 or 6 segments, but youíll shoot it in order, which is nice. But, itís just different because the camera picks up everything. Iím sure youíve heard this many times but itís true. You just think something and it registers as opposed to when people are 100 feet away from you and what youíre thinking doesnít communicate. Thatís why sometimes a lot of people who just do film or television have a hard time with theater.

NR:  And Iím sure the opposite is true too. If you do a lot of theater ...

MP:  Yeah. If you get in front of a camera and youíre huge, but you donít know until you look at it ...

NR:  But youíve been able to flip back and forth between the two.

MP:  I have. Iíve been really lucky. Iím still able to do both. A lot of stuff shoots here in New York - independent films and stuff. So, Iíve been really lucky.


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