5 Questions With Michele Ragusa

February 28, 2018
Natalie Hulla
Michele is pleased to be making her Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park debut!

Broadway credits include Young Frankenstein, Urinetown, Ragtime, Titanic, A Class Act and Cyrano. Off-Broadway credits include Adrift in Macao (Primary Stages – Lortel/Drama League nomination/Barrymore Award), Titanic 20th Anniversary Concert (Lincoln Center) and Craving For Travel (Playwrights Horizon). Regional credits include Annie (Ordway Performing Arts Center); The Cottage (Aspen Theatre Company); Gypsy, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Lend Me a Tenor and Boeing, Boeing (John W. Engeman Theater); Bullets Over Broadway (Ogunquit Playhouse); Cake Off (Bucks County Playhouse); Mame and Hello, Dolly (Riverside Theatre); A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Geva Theatre); The King and I (Maltz Jupiter Theatre); Spamalot and Singing in the Rain (MUNY); Bad Dates and Noises Off (Studio Arena); Sweeney Todd (Portland Center Stage); Into The Woods (Kansas City Repertory Theatre); Kiss Me Kate (Paper Mill Playhouse); The Drowsy Chaperone (Cape Playhouse); Mary Poppins (Kansas City Starlight); Guys and Dolls (Dallas Theatre Center); and The Full Monty (Paper Mill Playhouse/Aspen Theatre Company). Film and television credits include Happyish (Showtime), Heart of Spider (NYU/IFC) and Law and Order: SVU (NBC). She also headlines with symphonies across the country. Visit www.micheleragusa.com. @MRagusaNYC

Ragusa,-Michele---Headshot---WebHow long have you been acting, and where did you receive your training?

I started acting in high school, actually. But then, I thought, “who makes a living as an actor? No one.” So, I went to business school for three years. While there, I got connected with a theatre director and this man urged me to go and have a tour of the Niagara University theatre department (I was from Buffalo). Basically, to get him off my back, I went to have a tour. When I walked into that theatre, I knew it was where I needed to be. So, I got my BFA and moved to New York City with my [Actors] Equity card in ’89. I’ve been a working actor ever since.

When did you know you wanted to be an actor, and what’s your favorite part of the job?

As I mentioned above, I knew I had “the bug” in high school — and I do recall seeing the national tour of A Chorus Line and being completely blown away by what I saw. Guess that moment really spoke to me. I think some of the things that make this such a compelling profession, for me, is the collaboration of creative people. To find yourself in a situation where everyone is on the same page and there’s electricity in the air — those moments are so precious and make this crazy profession truly special. Also, to be able to sing with an enormous orchestra — that never gets old!

Michele Ragusa and Eva Kaminsky in Be Here Now; photo by Mikki Schaffner.

What is your all-time favorite role you’ve performed, and why?

Trying to name my all-time favorite role is a tough one, since I’ve been doing this so long. I’ve been fortunate enough to have played many of the most iconic roles for women in musical theatre. Being asked, at this moment, I think the role of Rose in Gypsy is stepping forward. This woman has so many layers, is so complex, that when I’d finish a performance I’d really feel like I completed a full journey. Not to mention, that score is incredible.

What role have you been dying to play, and why?

There are still some roles that I’ve been wanting to sink my teeth into. So, aside from constantly wanting to be involved in new works, like Be Here Now, the top of my bucket list right now is Sweeney Todd, Grey Gardens and Light in the Piazza.

Michele Ragusa, Eva Kaminsky and Emily Kratter in Be Here Now; photo by Mikki Schaffner.

What has been the most interesting part of working on Be Here Now so far?

The most interesting part of working on this incredible play has to be the fact that we’re all in the room together — writer, actors and director — all striving to create this piece with one another. There’s nothing more thrilling than feeling that what you’re contributing to the process is what is elevating the piece higher and higher. Also, the fact that our audiences have never heard these words spoken before — it’s so fulfilling.

To learn more about the Playhouse's production of Be Here Now, visit our production detail page