BWW Blog: Adam Lendermon of Maltz Jupiter's A CHORUS LINE - Interview with Michael Callahan
This week I've chosen to introduce you to Michael Callahan, who shares his namesake with the character he plays. He is one of the younger guys on the line, but he is a consummate professional and delivers every night. Enjoy!
"I want you to tell me your name, real name if it's different. And I'd also like to know where you were born..."
"What made you start dancing?"
At the age of 12, my mother found an ad in the local newspaper for a dance studio. Although my parents were jocks by nature, they noticed and encouraged my love of the arts at a young age. I enjoyed tormenting family with my unpleasant singing voice and flare for the dramatic. My mother was/is brilliant and believed every singer/actor needs to dance. Little did I know my true passion was in the latter.
What is your first memory connected with A Chorus Line?
I had the privilege of attending The Youth Performing Arts School in Louisville, KY for my four years of high school. My musical theatre professor, Gail Benedict, tackled the difficult task of teaching a bunch of teenagers the Opening Jazz Combination and "One" combination from A Chorus Line. I still hear her critiques in my head, shaping the way I execute the movement to this day.
How do you relate to the character on the line that you are playing?
Mike Costa and I come from Italian families in the New York/New Jersey area. If you are familiar with that environment, then enough said. I have a wonderful mental image of my own grandmother "hangin' out the window leanin' on a little pillow." Like Mike, I understand the young performer's need to impress. We often feel like more is more. How can I cram everything I am capable of doing in a minute and a half? Luckily it works out in this story, but I have come to learn that isn't always the case. Mike also fell into dance. He showed up one day, realized he was good, and the rest was history. That is similar to my own story. I didn't come from a family of dancers or performers. I showed up to class one day, wasn't half bad, fell in love, and "stayed the rest of life."
Who has most inspired or nurtured you as an artist?
That is a difficult question. I have so many amazing mentors in my life. If we are focusing on the theme of dance, then I have to say Gail Benedict first sparked the artist in me. In high school I would skip classes during her free periods to ask her questions about the business and her career. We never discussed the fact that I was skipping class, but that seems so minuscule now. Those conversations are some of my fondest memories from high school and I treasure her willingness to share her knowledge and passion. She took me under her wing during a time when my mind was new to the arts and so malleable! She would let me borrow DVDs of classic movie musicals, introducing me to all the greats. All the information was fresh and exciting. Her love of teaching combined with my love of learning made us an electric pair. She was one of the first people to believe in my abilities and reassure my future as a performer. Her passion for the arts and her belief in me were more than enough to spark my artistic fire.
What is your favorite story to tell about something that has happened to you onstage?
I was working on a production of High School Musical in high school. Cliché but true. My beautiful dance partner and I were obsessed with So You Think You Can Dance. We fell in love with this trick where the man throws the woman straight up into the air, releasing her into a toe touch, then catching her strattle in his arms as she then rolls her body in between his legs. The mere description of it sounds like a "do NOT try this at home." We executed correctly in rehearsals, giving the choreographer confidence we could continue to do so five shows a week. Our first day of tech I launch her into air and the last thing I remember was the word Juicy or some other booty short statement coming into contact with my face. We still argue over who's fault it was. Anyway, my body broke her fall. Thankfully she was absolutely fine, but there I lay, flattened and briefly unconscious on the floor. I then remember opening my eyes to the daunting presence of everyone standing around me. I was so lucky to leave with only a slight concussion. It is the only dancer's "war story" I have, so I take great pride in it.