Michael Augenstein

Michael is a veteran of theatre in the Springs; he’s worked on pretty much every stage in town over the last 30 years or so. He helped bring Star Bar back to life by joining us for The Weir, our return production in 2009.


How long have you been doing theatre? My first performance was in the second grade, so if you count that, it has been 57 years! It would be seven more years until the first role that counted, the experience that birthed the “bug”.

What was your first role? The role that got me hooked was Winthrop, in The Music Man. And it was the moment towards the end of the play where Harold Hill and Marian are onstage singing the reprise to Till There Was You, and I’m standing a few feet away and they do the kiss and I start shaking my head and mugging to the audience and suddenly everyone was laughing and watching me instead of them. I liked that.

What was your most difficult role? I know we’re talking stage but I think the most difficult role I ever played was my one and only film credit. Billy Dawes in Breaker! Breaker! It was difficult because of all of my unfulfilled expectations. A script, a director, rehearsal, a talented star (Chuck Norris). It was filmed out of sequence and there was just no time to figure out how to make it better before it was over and too late.

What was your most rewarding role? That’s a hard one. Maybe Nick in A Thousand Clowns. Did that my junior year in High School and took 4th in the Illinois High School state play festival and I used one of the monologues for my college auditions and it got me into Carnegie Mellon.

Worst onstage mishap: I can’t remember ever having something specific go wrong and I never got hurt in a production. The worst that’s happened are lights or sound failing or actors missing entrances.

Most Terrifying Moment: Definitely going up in the middle of a three-page monologue as Jack in The Weir at THEATREWORKS a couple of years ago. Did it twice in the same place. I got it back but not before the most intense adrenalin rush imaginable!

Funniest performance anecdote: A couple of actors were very late on an entrance leaving me, Michael Borghe and Mel Grier hung out to dry, and Borghe just starts improvising Shakespeare, rhymed couplets, full iambic pentameter. He kept it up for a few minutes. It was amazing.

Theatrical high point: Probably my last college production in the early 70’s, directed by Israel Hicks who I became friends with and went on to spend years at DCT. My character, Dippold the Optician, closed the show. One of my professors used me as an example in an acting class after the show, illustrating how to embody a character. Pretty heady stuff at the time.

You as a performer in three words: Growing, present, vulnerable.

What do you want the audience to know about the current show?This show is Chekov, only better, realer, more current. All the themes are there only more accessibly portrayed. It can’t help but move you.

Tell us three things about you that have nothing to do with theatre: I review construction plans and approve them for permitting at the Regional Building Department. I built houses for Wolfgang Petersen and Andy Summers (The Police) when I lived in LA. I have 10 grandchildren!

What’s your Actor’s Nightmare? Same as everyone, didn’t know I was in the play so I don’t know the lines and I can’t find the script and I blew off learning the lines and I just missed the rehearsal or the performance and I’m a real asshole!!