Spotlight on Shrewsbury actor onstage in Worcester
By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Michael Gondek of Shrewsbury has added 20 years of credits to his resume as an actor and vocalist by travelling throughout central Massachusetts and beyond in musicals, operas and concerts. Now, for the first time, he’s portraying the male lead role in a play without music.
Gondek is performing in the Worcester County Light Opera Company (WCLOC) production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Rabbit Hole” by David Lindsay-Abaire and directed by Eric Butler. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m., from Jan. 31 through Feb. 16 at the Grandview Playhouse in Worcester.
“’Rabbit Hole’ is a phenomenal play,” Gondek said. “The opportunity to perform in this particular play is a great treat.”
This marks his third time working with WCLOC. The first was the musical “She Loves Me” in 2010.
“It was a really good cast,” he recalled. “It impressed me how dedicated everyone was to make sure they delivered a quality product to the community. It’s a very professionally run community theater.”
He returned to WCLOC for the 2012 production of the musical “The Assassins.”
The WCLOC website describes “Rabbit Hole” in part as a “bittersweet search for comfort in the darkest of places.” Gondek noted the story’s uplifting aspect.
“People might get the initial impression that it’s a play about death and sorrow,” he said. “But it’s really about life and picking up the pieces after a loss. There are a few bumps in the road and not everybody moves forward at the same speed, but life does go on.”
Gondek discovered his interest in the stage while studying at St. John’s High School, where he sang and danced in the spring musical.
“When I heard applause for the first time, I knew I wanted to hear that again,” he said. “Applause has been addicting.”
After graduating from St. John’s in 1991, he returned as a teacher, athletic coach, and assistant director for the school’s musicals from 1994 through ‘99.
“I really liked teaching whether it was in the classroom, or coaching, or helping the music director,” he said
Even before opening night of “Rabbit Hole,” Gondek began rehearsing his next theatrical venture. He’ll play Javert in the mega-musical “Les Miserables” presented by the Assumption College Theatre (ACT) at the Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts in Worcester from Friday, April 4, through Sunday, April 6. He previously performed at that venue when ACT staged “Children of Eden” in 2011.
“’Les Miserables’ is two-and-a-half hours of singing,” he noted. “It’s such a grand show and the Hanover Theatre is such a grand stage to do it on. The space itself is so majestic. To stand on that stage and look out at the audience is very exciting.”
Based on his experience of singing with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall in Boston and Carnegie Hall in New York City, Gondek assessed, “From a performers’ perspective, the Hanover Theatre is very similar.”
Gondek isn’t sacrificing family time while rehearsing “Les Miserables.” His wife, Elisabeth, is the show’s assistant music director and their son, Frederic, is also in the cast.
When not onstage, Gondek is currently vice president of sales and marketing at a software company.
“It’s important to keep a good work/life balance,” he said. “Performing is a great outlet for me. If there’s something that fuels you, then it’s worth making the time to do it.”
For ticket information for “Rabbit Hole,” call 508-753-4383 or visit wcloc.org. For ticket information for “Les Miserables,” call 877-571-7469 or visit thehanovertheatre.org.
Photos/courtesy of Paul Bobkowski
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