Gen PH Spotlight
meet michael cyril creighton
Actor, Writer, & Gen PH Honorary Committee Member
Tell us a little bit about how you were first introduced to theater.
I grew up on Long Island, so it wasn't hard to get into the city to see a show or two as a kid. My family brought me to the theatre a lot when I was young to see musicals. I think the first one I ever saw was Nunsense! When I was 16, I convinced my mom to start taking me to straight plays. The first straight play I saw was Indiscretions with Jude Law, Roger Rees, Cynthia Nixon, Kathleen Turner and Eileen Atkins. Little did I know, it was a wildy brutal play, and I loved every minute of it. My mother was shocked. I was in heaven. I think I can pinpoint that moment as the moment I realized, wow. I gotta do this. I have a terrible memory, but will never ever forget the ending tableau (or Jude Law getting out of the bathtub.)
As an actor, what is the difference between working on a new play versus a play that has been produced before?
There is nothing in the world more exciting than working on a new play. I've been lucky enough to work on 4 new plays with The Debate Society (including Blood Play & Buddy Cop 2) as an actor, and watching them work at developing the world, cracking the story and perfecting the dialogue was heaven. It was like my own version of grad school, getting to see the creation of a play from inception to execution. As an actor, to have the writer or writers in the room and to feel that I am helping shape a story and build a character is so satisfying and rewarding. When we were doing Stage Kiss, the remarkable and delightful Sarah Ruhl took a great deal of my own qualities and personality as "Michael" (the actor) and wrote them into "Kevin" (the character), in turn making the role a perfect fit and the play one of the most satisfying theatrical experiences I’ve had. That doesn't happen when you work on an established work. You can put your personality into a role, but no one is going to write my sweatiness and beard into Inherit The Wind.
What is your fondest Playwrights Horizons moment?
My first experience seeing something at Playwrights Horizons was pretty magical. I was 22 and they were opening the new space and doing concert versions of old shows with the original casts. I was lucky enough to see Falsettoland. It was remarkable. I left thinking, god, I want to work at this place. Of course, I did end up working there a few years later, but in the Box Office and stayed there for 8 years before I left and then returned to act on the main stage in Stage Kiss. So, I've seen many shows over the years and am always moved by the work Playwrights does and appreciate the risks they take. Off the top of my head, 100 Saints You Should Know, The Whale, Circle Mirror Transformation, Drunken City, Bootycandy, A Small Fire…those are all shows I remember walking away from and having trouble shaking for days to come. Playwrights makes powerful, beautiful theatre and I feel so lucky to have been able to see quite a bit of it in the past decade. Like I said, I have a bad memory but Playwrights work always sticks with me for years to come. It’s a wonderful place run by wonderful people, and they are making the kind of work audiences deserve.
As a theater artist, why do you think that young donor programs, like Generation PH, are important to the theater?
The only chance theatre has at staying alive and relevant is through a new generation of audience members. Young, smart, exciting tastemakers who can carry the baton for years to come are absolutely crucial to what we do. This is not to say the older ladies and gentleman who so frequently subscribe to theatre companies aren’t valuable and wonderful, but a little youthful energy goes a long way.
What’s something about you that most people might not know?
I worked in a Meat Market when I was in High School for exactly 1 day and then quit. I was also voted Christian of the Year 7 years in a row in grade school, because I fooled everyone into thinking I was the nicest.
What projects are you working on now that we can look forward to seeing?
I am going to be seen in a supporting role in the new Thomas McCarthy film SPOTLIGHT, which stars Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber, Michael Keaton, Brian D’arcy James and Stanley Tucci. It is schedule for a 2015 release.
Editor's Note: You may recognize actor Michael Cyril Creighton from his role as Kevin in last season's Playwrights Horizons production of Stage Kiss by Sarah Ruhl, fromThe New York Times article "Talent You Won't Forget," or from his many television appearances in acclaimed shows like Nurse Jackie and Orange Is The New Black, but did you know that he is also a Writer's Guild of America Award winner?
Michael's award-winning web series Jack In A Box is equal parts funny, moving, and cupcakes. And it will cause you to pause and wonder just what is happening behind the glass or on the other end of the phone when you're talking to your friendly theater box office representative. It's definitely a must-see for theater lovers.
Meet more members of Generation PH in our Gen PH Spotlight archives, including:
- Marisa Sechrest - Gen PH Leadership Committee Co-Chair & Member of the Board of Trustees
- Steve Nowicki - Gen PH Leadership Committee Member
- Aleksandra Szczepanowska - Gen PH Member
Photo of Michael Cyril Creighton by Zack DeZon.