Rogue Lives, Season 1: An Actor's Life with Michele "Maisey" Mais
The last in the four-part series, Rogue Lives:An Actor’s Life, Oregon Shakespeare Festival actor Michele “Maisey” Mais shares stories from her life spent on stage.
Tales include how, as a teenager, trying out for national tour of Godspell on a whim lead to her life on stage, lessons learned from a horrible accident on the Rocky Horror stage, and joining the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Company.
About Michele Mais
Michele Mais’s career started when she was just five years old performing in a dance recital. She was a butterfly and she was so entranced by being under the stage lights and by the applause from the audience that she was reluctant to leave the stage. She was the last butterfly to leave so she left as slowly as her wings would take her.
Maisey has spent most of her career on the stage. She has been on Broadway, off-Broadway, toured internationally, and performed in regional theaters all over the United States. Happily, she has been at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for six years and will be there again this year.
When she was 17 years old, with no experience no sheet music, no pictures, and no resume she walked into an open call audition for “Godspell.” She got the part! That is when she learned that she would not put limitations on herself but be as spontaneous, uninhibited and fearless as she could be.
She often worked in New York and Los Angeles when she wasn’t touring. One of the most impactful plays she performed in was, “The Last Session,” a play about AIDS. The cause is very close to Maisey’s heart as she had lost many friends to this disease. She received the Drama Critics Circle Award for her performance.
One of Maisey’s idols was Georgia Brown, famous for singing and acting on stage and television. Maisey got to work with Georgia on “Roza.” In addition to being an actor, Maisey has the ability to look at a play and see what is missing or what could be done differently. She created her own role in Rock of Ages and performed the role for many years.
Maisey has been in a wide range of plays and shows. She was the lead singer in Dick Clark’s American Bandstand and fulfilled one of her goals to see her name on a billboard.
She also worked with Hal Prince in a place called, “Roza “at the Royale theater in New York. The play did not have a long run but Maisey was honored with a “Hirschfield,” for her performance. Maisey is attracted to a play, not because she thinks it will be phenomenally successful, but rather because she believes in letting her heart and her sense of fun draw her into doing the work.
An actor’s life is very affected by the critical reviews. After a critical review of “Zoot Suit,” Maisey and the entire cast found it very hard to go on stage and try to win the audience’s approval and applause. Alan Alda happened to be in the audience and he came backstage to encourage what he considered to be outstanding performances. The cast went on with the show with a renewed purpose and vigor.
Although many times her parts allow her to sing, she is also very capable of doing dramatic parts. Cast in a dramatic play in which she had to learn many pages of difficult dialogue, she once again improvised onstage and she sang a lullaby to a dying child. She had hoped that she would be remembered for dramatic acting, but no one could stop talking about the lullaby.