Two years after making his FST debut in the hit 2019 Summer Cabaret Who Loves You: A Musical Tribute to Frankie Valli and Beyond, the one-and-only Michael Maricondi has returned to dazzle audiences with his top notch piano playing in FST’s all-new musical revue, Three Pianos.
We sat down with Michael to learn more about how he fell in love with “the keys” and what it has been like to part of a Cabaret that has been extended four times and is now reaching its final week.
Tell us a little bit about your history with the piano. Has the instrument always had a place in your life?
Music has always been in my life. When I was a kid – around four-years-old – my cousin, who played the accordion, came over and played Beethoven’s “Für Elise.” When she left, I climbed up onto the bench of our electric organ and played it from memory. The next day, my parents began searching for a piano teacher for me, which was difficult, because most teachers thought I was too young. Ever since then, I’ve used my training as a pianist to write songs, musicals, and teach musicality to others.
You were last at FST for the popular Summer Cabaret Who Loves You: Musical Tribute to Frankie Valli and Beyond (2019). What has it been like returning to perform for Sarasota audiences once again?
It’s been a dream! Though a lot has changed since I was last here, the audiences have remained just as enthusiastic, warm, responsive, and eager to share in our collective experience at the theatre as that first time! They really enjoy the trip down “memory lane” that FST Cabarets offer, and I love seeing and feeling their reactions when we take a song in a different direction than what they’re used to. They’re always so ready to come on that journey!
What’s more, getting to work so closely with the theatre’s artistic team, and the whole FST family, has proven to me that the audience’s excitement is not without reason. FST truly cultivates a deep, moving experience with each of its productions.
Tell us more about Three Pianos. What about this show most excites you as an artist?
What excites me the most about Three Pianos is the collaboration I have with my castmates Madalyn McHugh and Nygel D. Robinson onstage and feeling the excitement of the audience as we bring them on this journey with us. Certain parts feel like a full-on rock concert, while others feel intimate, as though we’re sharing a secret with the audience. It’s that variety of expression that really excites me…that, and getting to feel like Elton John and Billy Joel nine times a week!
The rehearsal process for an FST Cabaret is often collaborative. What was the rehearsal process for you like on this show?
This has been, by far, the most collaborative and fulfilling creative rehearsal process I’ve enjoyed in quite some time. What I learned most, though, was how much care, attention, and dramaturgy goes into creating a Cabaret at FST. We did so much talking and experimenting with form, flow, and structure to really shape this “musical evening with friends.” All of our instincts and offerings were heard, tried out, and given a chance, so as to allow the truth of our stories to come through. I must say, I’m hooked!
What is your favorite moment in Three Pianos?
There are many! The whole Blues Rock section, especially my bit with Madalyn during “I’m Ready” by Fats Domino, and the ridiculously energetic and over-the-top duo of Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire” between Nygel and me.
And of course, the entirety of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” It’s so much fun to do an “opera” in the middle of a show.
The banter with my colleagues and hearing them succeed in telling their stories and sharing their talents. I’ve seldom, if ever, had such a wonderful rapport with such incredible artists.
Why should someone come see Three Pianos?
Why shouldn’t someone come see Three Pianos?! It’s joyful. It’s got something for everyone. We sing. We rock out. We share. We riff. It’s both a trip down memory lane and a “musical evening with friends.” If you’ve missed having that fleeting, once-in-a-lifetime, never-will-be-the-same-again experience that only live theatre can offer, that’s why you should check out Three Pianos.
Due to popular demand, Three Pianos has been extended multiple times and will play in FST’s Gompertz Theatre through May 23, 2021. For tickets or more information, click here.