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Michael Walline sets the moves behind the theater scene

You might know Michael Walline’s work but you might not know Michael Walline. As one of Buffalo’s leading choreographers and directors, he works mostly behind the scenes, but began his career on stage (and still appears there from time to time). Here he shares some thoughts about his life in the theater.

Name a role you would never be cast in, but have always wanted to play.

Jean Valjean in “Les Miserables.” Musical theater performers need stamina, and I marvel at anyone who plays this role because it is a beast vocally. And to be able to sing “Bring Him Home” on a stage, similar to how I do in my car, would be a beautiful thing.

If you could go back in time to opening night of any Broadway production…

I think I would go back and see the opening night of “A Chorus Line.” That show is so important to me. It was my first professional show back in 1993, and it really helped me through a lot. I started dancing that year and took a chance on many things in life, changing my major at UB to musical theater, and most importantly, coming out of the closet. If I could meet (show creator and Buffalo native) Michael Bennett on opening night I would probably say “a 5-6-7-8!” and give him a big hug.

Who is the unsung hero of the Buffalo theater community?

Chester Popiolkowski, the composer at Theatre of Youth. I think the soundscape of a show is sometimes taken for granted, and at TOY, music is so integral. Chester painstakingly creates these lush soundscapes from scratch. His work is incredibly detailed and largely unrecognized. He’s also a beautiful person who would do anything for you, and I’m so happy to have him as a colleague and a friend.

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