Take Ten With The Creator of the ‘Take Ten’: theatreWashington’s Michael Kyrioglou

Kyrioglou dishes on his famous Take Ten column, his work at theatreWashington, and why he once sat through a Dutch-language production of 'Angels in America.'

We’ve all read his columns, now get to know the person behind them! In the midst of last week’s Helen Hayes Awards-fever, I asked theatreWashington’s Michael Kyrioglou to answer some questions inspired by his Take Ten column.

Nicole Hertvik: What do you do at theatreWashington?

theatreWashington's Theatre Services Manager, Michael Kyrioglou. Photo courtesy of Michael Kyrioglou.
theatreWashington’s Theatre Services Manager, Michael Kyrioglou. Photo courtesy of Michael Kyrioglou.

Michael Kyrioglou: Lots of everything. My title is Theatre Services Manager. I’m in regular contact with the 96 theatre organizations we work with to share information relevant to the community, gathering data on their productions for our searchable website and Helen Hayes Awards judge scheduling, and involvement in our programs and services such as Taking Care fund collections, our annual Theatre Community Summit, the TixCertificate program and our theatreWeek promotional campaign each September.

What is the best part of your work at theatreWashington?

Working with, and waving the flag for, all of these talented artists and companies in our region, helping theatreWashington to raise the profile for this extraordinary community and the stories it is telling to connect them with new audiences. It’s a real bounty we have here. And while I don’t have to go to every production, I certainly try to see as many as possible.

How did you come up with the idea for your Take Ten column?

We started doing a selection of these pre-set 10-question interviews prior to the Helen Hayes Awards one year to promote the nominees, but then we revived it as a weekly feature so we get to do them all year to showcase more theatre professionals and the shows on which they are currently working.

Who is the most interesting person you have interviewed for the Take Ten column?

Oh, dangerous question. But there is no one answer. We always learn something interesting from each person about their background or journey in their career and get some thoughtful advice for those thinking about theatre as a career.

L-R: Amber McGinnis, Alyssa Wilmoth Keegan, Michael Kyrioglou, and Nanna Ingvarsson at the 2018 Helen Hayes Awards. Photo courtesy of Michael Kyrioglou.
L-R: Amber McGinnis, Alyssa Wilmoth Keegan, Michael Kyrioglou, and Nanna Ingvarsson at the 2018 Helen Hayes Awards. Photo courtesy of Michael Kyrioglou.

Describe the professional journey that brought you to theatreWashington.

After working my way through and graduating from GW, I got a job at Arena Stage for a couple of years while Zelda Fichandler was still Artistic Director and as Tom Fichandler was retiring. Such an amazing time to be there and what a way to begin my theatre career. From there, I worked for a number of years for the Consumer Electronics Show while also returning to Arena to house manage in the Kreeger a few seasons, then shifted over to Woolly Mammoth while they were still on Church Street and house managed, did box office, then moved into communications and marketing and was part of an incredible group of staffers who got the new space built in Penn Quarter. A total of 16 years from cleaning bathrooms, sweeping up cigarette butts, to taking care of patrons and promoting shows. I gained my love and support for new work here. I moved to theatreWashington in 2010 and have been here since – my 10th year now.

What is the first show you ever saw, and what impact did it have on you?

Honestly, I don’t remember. Some of my early viewing included my aunt getting our family tickets to see The King and I revival on Broadway in the ’70s with Yul Brynner in the new-ish Uris Theatre (now the Gershwin), so that was my first Broadway show. We weren’t a theatre-going family so that was a big treat. The next one I remember from back then was getting standing-room for Fosse’s Dancin’ which was awesome.

What is your favorite play or musical?

Hard to choose when you see so much but some things I love are Merrily We Roll Along and Angels in America, each of which I’ll see whenever they’re being done (I’m on 9 Angels productions including Van Hove’s production in Dutch). Anything by O’Neill. Orlandersmith’s Yellowman is an extraordinary and eye-opening play. Evita – that score! Fiddler on the Roof (I was Motel in high school). Any play from the pen of Suzan-Lori Parks, Annie Baker, Bruce Norris, Will Eno, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, or Amy Herzog.

Other than your significant other, who is your dream date (living or dead) and why?

No significant other, but how about a dinner with Linda Ronstadt.

If you could travel back in time to see any performance or production, what would you choose?

Oh, nothing in particular but to see things like Hair or A Raisin in the Sun or one of the Greek plays during their original productions to see the impact and reaction from audiences, or to see Brando or Montgomery Clift on stage.

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?

Oh, I’m a fairly private person so… I’m a big movie fan too and run a group called DC Film Society which is a membership group of film fans connected to Filmfest.

Thanks, Michael! And thanks for all you do at theatreWashington!

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Nicole Hertvik
A reformed child actor, Nicole got her BA in English literature before wandering the globe for a decade, writing and teaching English in Prague, San Francisco, Buenos Aires, and Paris. She eventually landed in NYC where she received a Master’s Degree in International Affairs from Columbia University and dabbled in theater as an actor, script reader, and dramaturg. Thrilled by the strong and diverse theater community she discovered in Washington, DC, Nicole wakes up every morning excited to contribute to DC Metro Theater Arts and other publications. Nicole studied journalism at Georgetown University and was a 2019 fellow at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's National Critics Institute. Email: nicole@dcmetrotheaterarts.com, Instagram: @nicolehertvik, Twitter: @nicolehertvik, Facebook: Nicole Hertvik.