Q&A: Michael Therriault

Canadian actor makes his Shaw Festival debut with two comedic performances

Presented by Shaw Festival Theatre

Michael Therriault as Bill Snibson in Me and My Girl. Photo by David Cooper.

Another Shaw Festival season is underway and Michael Therriault has a packed schedule to manage with roles in two productionsthis is his first season with the company. 

To start, he plays Bill Snibson, a proud Cockney who is amazed to learn that he’s actually the fourteenth Earl of Hareford in Me and My Girl. Can he give up his old lifeand love!to join the upper class? Directed by Ashley Corcoran, this lively British musical was updated in 1986 by Stephen Fry for a run that won a hatful of Olivier, Drama Desk and Tony Awards. Next, Therriault tackles the role of Spintho in Bernard Shaw's Ancient Roman comedy Androcles and the Lion.

We caught up with the busy performer to find out more about his experience working on these shows.

Theatromania: This is your first Shaw Festival season. What are you most excited about?

MT: This is indeed my first time working at the Shaw and it's been such a pleasure. One of the things that excited me most about Me And My Girl was getting to dance again in a show as it's been quite a long time since I’ve done that. Getting to work and spend time with members of this company that I’ve admired over the years has been a definite joy as well. As far as Androcles and the Lion is concerned, I worked with Tim Carroll on Peter Pan in Stratford in 2010 and being in a rehearsal hall with him was one of the highlights of my career. I’m so happy to be getting to experience that again. His unique approach to rehearsing encourages a spontaneity that I think is inspiring and thrilling to watch. 

Theatromania: Tell us about Me and My Girl. How would you describe this show in a few sentences?

MT: People have been calling it “My Fair Lady meets Grease meets Downton Abbey.” It’s a laugh a minute, toe tapping romp and an incredibly good time.

Theatromania: You’re also in Androcles and the Lion this season. Do you find one performance to be more challenging than the other?

MT: Where Me and My Girl is a show that will pretty much be the same every night, Androcles and the Lion will change from performance to performance in a dramatic way as the audience will have power over how the show is played out. That requires us actors to be ready for anything and we spend much of our rehearsal time training for that. Watching a group of actors problem solve in front of you, at your whim, can only be achieved in live theatre. The audience will get the play Shaw wrote, but they will also get an experience completely unique to them. Where Me and My Girl is physically demanding, Androcles is creatively challenging.

Theatromania: What have you learned from working with directors Ashley Corcoran and Tim Carroll?

MT: Both Ashley and Tim are very collaborative directors who encourage actors to come into rehearsals with ideas and offers. It makes for an exciting and fun rehearsal room. Tim's focus on spontaneity and flexibility in rehearsals by always keeping us out of our comfort zones has been especially challenging and exciting.

Theatromania: What's next for you?

MT: I’m in a film Cult of Chucky that will be released in October and I can be heard in the cartoon series The Bagel and Becky Show that plays every afternoon on Teletoon.

Catch Therriault in Me and My Girl at the Shaw Festival until October 15, and Androcles and the Lion from June 6 to October 7, 2017. Visit shawfest.com for more information and to buy tickets.

 

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