Interview with Choreographer, Michael Mizerany

Michael Mizerany has served as choreographer for many shows in the San Diego the past few years.  He has been the recipient of numerous awards including two Lester Horton Awards and the Bravo San Diego Award for Outstanding Choreographer of 2012. Last year, he was nominated for a Craig Noel Theater Award for Outstanding Choreography for ALTAR BOYZ. He is currently working on SPRING AWAKENING at the Cygnet Theatre.


The Playbill Collector (TPC): Have you always been a musical theater choreographer?

Michael Mizerany (MM): No.  I am a contemporary dance maker.  Two years ago I did my first musical theater piece in 25 years and I have been doing a lot since then.


TPC: What is the biggest challenge of the show?

MM: In my contemporary work, I usually tell a narrative or story.  With SPRING AWAKENING, each song either propels the main plot or reflects the inner emotions or intentions of the main characters.  In SPRING AWAKENING, there are no “dance breaks”.   I don’t know if it is a challenge, but the exciting part for me is making each song vital to telling the story of SPRING AWAKENING.


Screen Shot 2014-03-04 at 6.10.58 AMTPC: Have you and Sean Murray (director) worked together on a show before?

MM: No.  This is the first time though I have seen many shows at Cygnet.  Sean is a master storyteller and I have really enjoyed working with him.  I think people will come and see a very different version from what they have seen in the past.  We aren’t doing the Broadway version. Sean, Terry O’Donnell (the musical director) and I are creating our own piece.  It is still electric, cutting edge and provocative but definitely our own take on the show.


TPC: What is the space like?

MM: It is a beautiful theater that holds over 300 people.   The scenic design by Ryan Grossheim and lighting design by Chris Rynne are mesmerizing.  The stage has a turntable which I love working with.  One of the main characters has a scene where he is in a kaleidoscope of emotions and his inner turmoil is played out on stage.  The turntable has proved to be a useful tool in that particular scene.


TPC: What is your approach with the actors?

MM: When I taught the phrase for the number “Totally F##cked”, I could tell that were slightly intimidated.  Once they learned the phrase, I told them “in the show you are not dancers.  You are angst-ridden 15 year old kids in the 1800’s and you need to approach the movement it that way.”  They let out a sigh of relief and are now making their characters come alive because they convey the emotion and energy of the moment. It has been inspiring to watch them work.


TPC: Are you working with young actors or mostly adults?

MM: There are two adults portraying all the older characters but the rest are in their teens to twenties.  Two thirds of them are in their teens which is true to the cast in the story.  You have young people playing young people which is nice.


TPC: Is the band on stage or in a pit?

MM: The band is a rock band and they are above the stage in the back. There is a curtain over them but they rock out behind it.


TPC: Is there nudity?

MM: Yes.  It is artful and thoughtful.  There is also some sexual content and profanity.

SPRING AWAKENING starts previews on March 6th.  For more information check out:

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