PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: A Small Fire Star Michele Pawk

News   PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: A Small Fire Star Michele Pawk
Tony Award winner Michele Pawk, currently starring in Adam Bock's A Small Fire at Playwrights Horizons, fills out's questionnaire with random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.

Michele Pawk
Michele Pawk

Pawk has appeared on Broadway in Losing Louie, Mamma Mia!, Chicago, Seussical, Cabaret, Hairspray, Triumph of Love, Crazy for You, Mail and Hollywood Arms, winning a 2003 Tony Award for the latter.

Other theatrical credits include The Dark at the Top of the Stairs, The Paris Letter, Reefer Madness, After the Fair, Hello Again, Merrily We Roll Along, john & jen and A Little Night Music.

Full given name: Michele Lynn Pawk
Hometown: Renfrew, PA
Zodiac Sign: Scorpio, but don't be afraid.
What your parents did for a living: My dad was a dentist, and my mom was an amazing cook.
Current audition song: I used to do "Sam, You Made the Pants Too Long" and "Once Upon a Time," but lately I just have to do whatever song they give me to learn. The business has changed a bit, or I just got old. Or both.
Special skills: I don't know... I can fall asleep at the drop of a hat. Sometimes mid-sentence. Embarrassing.
Skill/talent you wish you had or were better at: I wish I played the guitar. Maybe I'll pick that up one of these days.
First Broadway show you ever saw: I think it was 42nd Street. There was a fire scare before the show, so the entire audience and cast had to pour out onto the street. So there we were talking to all of the actors before the show! Talk about your drama!
If you could go back in time and catch any Broadway show, what would it be? The original Sweeney Todd
Current show you have been recommending to friends: Well, of course, A Small Fire by the marvelous Adam Bock. I loved Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. Really sad to see that close.
Three favorite musicals: Once on This Island, Merrily We Roll Along and... wait for it ... Jesus Christ Superstar! I know, I know, but my husband and I know every word, can imitate every voice, and have gotten hours of car-riding entertainment from that show. Love it!
Favorite showtune of all time: This is so unfair!!!!! I think at this moment I'll say "Sorry/Grateful."
Stage or screen star of the past you would most love to have sung with: Rosalind Russell
The one performance – attended - that you will never forget: Orphans by the Steppenwolf gang
Music that makes you cry, any genre: Keely Smith singing 40's big band stuff


MAC or PC? MAC, and never going back.
Most played song on your iPod: Anything by Alicia Keyes
Most-visited websites: Lots of film-related sites: AFI, Roger Ebert and the like, because I was teaching a film course last fall at Wagner College.
Last book you read: "Lit" by Mary Karr. Genius.
Last good movie you saw: "The Graduate." On DVD, naturally.
Some films you consider classics: "Citizen Kane"
"Double Indemnity"
"Auntie Mame"
"Rear Window"
Must-see TV show: I have become a huge "Raising Hope" fan. They are all absolutely hilarious, and watching Cloris Leachman breastfeed a baby will get my attention any day.
Performer you would drop everything to go see: Christopher Walken. And I did!
Pop culture guilty pleasure: "Glee" - need I say more? And I don't even feel that guilty!
Three favorite cities: Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Florence
Favorite sport/team/player: This is tough because I also really love football, but I am a huge New York Yankee/Derek Jeter-loving old woman.
First CD/Tape/LP you owned: Had to be a Barbra Streisand album or, before that, the Jesus Christ Superstar 8-track tape. Oh yea!
First stage kiss: Probably Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes in high school. She kisses somebody, doesn't she? It was so long ago, I can't actually recall.
Favorite or most memorable onstage role as a child/teenager: Meg in Brigadoon. What a blast! Someone should revive that!
Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living: After my second year at a liberal arts college in PA where they force you to declare a major. My dad encouraged me to pursue a career doing what I loved most in the world. How lucky was I? Great advice.
How you got your Equity card: Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera in 1986... yikes.
Favorite pre-/post- show meal: At home on the couch with my husband sharing a poo-poo platter of cheeses, hummus, fruit and meat.
Favorite liquid refreshment: Dirty martini straight-up with Ketel One
Most embarrassing or spectacular flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap:

In Losing Louise I had this very long, convoluted joke, and one night I just got lost in it. So, I started it over. And then got lost again... and again.... and again! I couldn't get myself out of it, until the stage manager came over the "God-mike" and helped me out of it. I always wondered what that experience must have been like for the audience, then one day I worked with an amazing man who was in the audience that night. He is still laughing at me.

Pre-show rituals or warm-ups: Sit-ups, push-ups, blah, blah, blah. It sucks to get old.
Worst costume ever: Hands down, Reefer Madness, where I was in a nude bodysuit with marijuana leaves covering my privates.
Worst job you ever had: Picking up cigarette butts at some dance club in Cincinnati. Terrible. And I didn't last all too long.
Most challenging role, vocally, you've played: After the Fair was a big challenge. A real Mezzo part, but I was newly pregnant and constantly wanting to vomit. I was forever running into the wings to grab a gingersnap.
Who would play you in the movie? Since the movie is highly unlikely, I can safely say Rosalind Russell.
Leading lady role you've been dying to play: Sweet Bird of Youth
Leading man role you wish you could play: Sweeney Todd
Career you would want if not a performer: I have recently starting teaching at Wagner College and am finding it incredibly rewarding. Amazing kids, superb colleagues, beautiful campus.
Three things you can't live without: My son, my husband and chocolate
Most vivid memory from the night you won the Tony: My husband standing up to face the balcony where my entire family was sitting to have a collective scream. I am truly loved.
"I'll never understand why…" ...people find it so easy to be critical of artistic endeavors when they have never ventured into the waters themselves. The process is actually so vulnerable and needs to be nurtured, not bashed in an effort to make oneself feel superior.
Words of wisdom for aspiring performers? Know that what you have is special. Trust it, but study, study, study. And read the newspaper, for God's sake!
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