Laura Cowan (left) and Mallory James in Theatre Under the Stars’ production of “Cinderalla,” staged at Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park from July 4 to Aug. 18. (Submitted photo: TUTS/Lindsay Elliott Photography)

Bad-guy role in TUTS’ ‘Cinderella’ suits Surrey-raised actor Michael Wild

Six-week run on Stanley Park stage ‘like a mini vacation’ for Michael Wild

It’s a working vacation in Stanley Park for Michael Wild this summer.

The Surrey-raised actor has a feature role in Theatre Under the Stars’ musical version of Cinderella, which opens Wednesday (July 11) in tandem with a toe-tapping production of 42nd Street.

The two shows will be staged at Malkin Bowl on alternate evenings until mid-August, meaning plenty of time for Wild under the trees of one of the world’s most famous parks.

“It’s a six-week run — a long one,” Wild confirmed, “but it’s in Stanley Park and what can be better, right? It’s like a mini vacation. I get to put on great clothes and have an audience. It’s a great way to spend the summertime.”

Wild, who lives in the West End of Vancouver, lived his early years in the Cloverdale/Clayton area, where he cut his teeth in the theatre biz.

“I did a lot of shows with the Fraser Valley group out there, the Gilbert and Sullivan Society,” he recalled. “I cut my teeth with that group, and they’re great, still going strong. I got to work with a lot of great people back then, and they’re still working. Janet Gigliotti, she did several shows with Fraser Valley. I did The Gondoliers with her, for instance, back in the early ’90s, I guess, and she’s in 42nd Street here with TUTS (Theatre Under the Stars). I’m not working with her, but sort of sharing the stage with her this summer.”

In Cloverdale, Wild’s mother once owned and operated Rosemary’s Antiques.

“I went to high school on Vancouver Island,” he said, “but my mom’s shop was right on the main drag there. I don’t know if it’s still an antique hub but it sure was back in the day.”

With TUTS, Wild’s credits include recent productions of Bye, Bye Birdie, Oklahoma and, most recently, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. He won a 2018 Ovation Award for best supporting actor in a musical.

In the company’s production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella this summer, Wild plays the evil Lord Chancellor Sebastian, Prince Topher’s advisor.

The Tony Award-winning script is based on a 2013 Broadway remount of the classic tale of fairy godmothers, glass slippers and the triumph of true love.

“My character, it’s a new role they created for the 2013 production,” Wild explained. “He’s sort of the power behind the throne, if you will. When Prince Topher’s parents pass away, he isn’t old enough to claim the throne, he was only a child at the time, so I ruled in his stead until he came of age. In those intervening years I sent him off to school and to university, and as my character accrued more and more power, I make the locals lives pretty miserable as a result.

“It’s fun (to play a bad guy),” Wild said, “but the trick is to not make him too evil. You still have to make him sympathetic and likable otherwise it becomes more of a drama than a comedy.”

This summer, the two TUTS productions involve the work of several Surrey-based talents, including Colin Milne (ensemble), Joshua Lalisan (dignitary/ensemble), Christopher Ward (duke/ensemble) and Sharon Wu (assistant stage manager).

A flexible rehearsal schedule suits Wild just fine.

“It really works for me, someone with a nine-to-five schedule,” explained Wild, who works as an office administrator at a Vancouver law firm. “TUTS manages to accommodate various schedules, because it’s a huge cast and huge production team, and we all have outside lives and jobs and things, and they manage to accommodate everybody, so I’m really grateful for that. It helps the process along.”

The theatre company’s 2017 season attracted more than 40,000 spectators to Malkin Bowl last summer.

“We hope to draw even more musical-theatre fans in 2018 with a pair of outstanding productions led by two distinguished North American directors,” stated Naveen Kapahi, TUTS board president. “Esteemed director and dramaturge Robert McQueen returns to TUTS after more than 25 years to lead the creative team of 42nd Street. Since his early days at TUTS, McQueen built a sterling international career, including serving as associate director for Mamma Mia! on Broadway, helming acclaimed Stratford Festival productions, and leading Toronto’s The Musical Stage Company (formerly Acting Up Stage Company). We are delighted to welcome him back as well as director Sarah Rodgers, who will give fresh vision to Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella. Audiences will fondly remember Sarah’s spellbinding recent productions of West Side Story, Hairspray and Shrek for TUTS.”

Wild hopes for large crowds at the theatre in Stanley Park.

”It’s a lovely mix what we’re doing here, and TUTS has a great formula now where they appeal to both families and also to musical theatre aficionados, you know,” he said. “You have the 42nd Street people who love the tap and great glitzy numbers and you’ve got the Cinderella folk, a great combination, and the TUTS board has worked at it for many years. It’s a great product.”

Tickets for the two TUTS shows this year range from $30 to $49. For details, visit tuts.ca/tickets or call 604-631-2877.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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Actor Michael Wild plays Sebastian in the TUTS musical production of “Cinderella.”

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