With two Daytime Emmy Awards and the adulation of millions of "All My Children" fans, Michael E. Knightbetter known as Tad "the Cad" Martinwas a natural choice to co-star with Linda Lavin in Cakewalk, the new Off-Broadway play based on author Peter Feibleman's May-December love affair with writer Lillian Hellman. After winning the approval of Lavin, who was unfamiliar with his work on the ABC-TV soap opera, Knight panicked at the logistics of moonlighting in an enormous, emotionally demanding role. "I thought, 'I don't see how I can do this and the soap at the same time,' " he admits, "but there are very few times when fate tosses something wonderful in your lap. This play is a tour de force for two actors, and my wife just threw herself in front of the railroad tracks and said, 'Go for it!' "
Knight's wife is Catherine Hickland, star of the ABC soap "The City" and alumna of Les Misérables. Together they have donated time and, in Hickland's case, cabaret performances to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Les Miz executive producer and Broadway Cares honcho Richard Jay-Alexander marvels at the recognition Knight receives simply strolling down the street. "I've worked with some of the biggest names in the theatre, and there's no comparison with the response Michael gets from fans."
For Knight, "Live theatre is itit doesn't get any more frightening than that. But I think it's goodand necessaryfor performers to be frightened every once in a while."
-- By Kathy Henderson