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Cork Independent

Cork Profile

Michael McCarthy, actor & singer

Thursday, 6th July, 2017 8:50am

When you were small, what did you want to be as a grown-up?

A hotel manager. I once worked at The Imperial as a porter during school holidays as a teenager.

Tell us about your progression to theatre on Broadway and the West End:

When I finished my Honours LAMDA diploma, I was very fortunate to receive a full scholarship to a top US liberal arts college, where I then worked really hard to earn my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

I went to London after graduating and worked even harder to get auditions before I had an agent. I was offered 'Anything Goes' with Elaine Paige on the same day I was offered 'Les Misérables'.

Huge contrast in style, but I was honoured, as an Irish actor, to get such a great opportunity to work in a Royal Shakespeare Company production with Cameron Mackintosh, Trevor Nunn and John Caird.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of your work?

Getting to travel the world, playing one of the most spectacular roles for a baritone in modern musical theatre. Now I enjoy spending time being creative in the recording studio.

What motivates you?

Now, it is definitely my son. After all, I want him to choose a good nursing home (with a good menu and wine list).

What advice would you give your 15 year old self?

Have confidence in yourself and don’t push too hard. If you just focus on doing your best, then you don’t need to feel you have to prove yourself to others. There will always be a better vocalist, better performer, but there is only one you.

If you weren’t doing performance, what would you be doing?

Probably architecture and property development.

What is your greatest achievement to-date in theatre? Opening night of Les Misérables in Dublin and having so many friends and family come up to see the show. I had to block-book the backstage bar for the occasion. It was amazing to have their support.

It’s also nice to be in the Lincoln Centre archives from when I did the show on Broadway. And, of course, having the opportunity to play Sweeney Todd, another role of a lifetime.

Who has had the biggest influence on you in your life?

On my life, my parents without doubt. Vocally, it would have to be Robert Goulet when I heard his tone and phrasing in the role of Lancelot in 'Camelot'. This set a bar I wanted to reach.

What is the life dream now?

Get my son to college. (So he’ll be able to one day to choose the good nursing home…with menu and wine list)

How do you switch off?

Having a meal and a chat with friends.

What is your favourite Cork memory?

Singing in The Quad last summer was definitely one of them. It was great to see 2,000+ people turn up to support such amazing charities. The crowd was electric and the rain held off.

What is your favourite place in Cork?

Kinsale, without a doubt. Although I still enjoy walking through Cork city centre.

Do you have a favourite quote or motto?

We’ll be dead long enough.

When are you at your happiest?

Over 5000 performances of Les Misérables and you think I might be happy?

Any regrets?

Life is too short for regrets. You’ve got to move forward.

What is your hidden talent?

I like to cook…which is useful because my wife can’t or won’t, I gave up trying to work out which.

What might we be surprised to know about you?

Most people seem surprised to find out I am now based in Florida, even though my agent is in London and New York.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

Although I’ve been fortunate to travel all over the world, every summer we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but home in Cork.


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