Throughout his stellar career, New York native Michael Sgouros has been active in a dazzling array of musical settings, not only as a drummer and percussionist, but as Musical Director, Composer, Advisor, Board Member, Panel Speaker… you name it! We were certainly thrilled when he agreed to devote some of his valuable time to answering a few of our questions.
To give you some perspective on the wide trajectory of his career, his experience includes performances in the American Symphony, Philharmonia Virtuosi, Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus and Broadway productions of The Secret Garden, Falsettos, The Goodbye Girl, Sunset Boulevard, Miss Saigon and Phantom of the Opera (Weber). He has toured nationally with A Chorus Line and has also traveled to Singapore with the touring production of Anything Goes.
Michael has served as Musical Director and Composer for the Off-Broadway shows Percussion People, The Selfish Giant, Treasure Island, Stone Soup, A Christmas Carol, Cinderella and Phantom of the Opera (Sgouros/Bell).
As a founding member of the Ethos Percussion Group, during his 15 year tenure he toured nationally and internationally performing, recording and commissioning new works for percussion. He remains an advisory board member of that ensemble today. Michael is also a board member of Theatre Resources Unlimited and a member of the Off Broadway Theatre Alliance.
As a drummer and percussionist, Michael has worked professionally with Eartha Kitt, Mandy Patinkin, Michael Rupert, Bernadette Peters, Martin Short, Danny Aiello, Michael Kamen, Alison Janney, Laura Linney, Jake Weber and Richard Thomas. He has also collaborated with other notable percussionists Glen Velez, Stefan Harris, Michael Markus, Danny Druckman, Howard Joines and Samir Chatterjee.
Michael has been honored by the National Foundation of the Arts and is a winner of the National Music Week Concerto Competition. He has served as a panel speaker for the Juilliard School, Chamber Music America and the Percussive Arts Society, Michael has also been an adjudicator for Drum Corps International. Currently Michael is director of the percussion program at Molloy College in Rockville Centre, NY.
So, what led this graduate of New York's Performing Arts High School and Juilliard to play drums and eventually to buy the famous The Players Theatre? He answers these questions, and more…
1. When/where did you first discover the drums?
Every summer my family would travel to a resort in Connecticut, where each and every morning the resort band would walk the grounds waking the guests for breakfast. Guests were welcome to join in on the noisy fun, and I always choose to play the snare drum. After a week, I was hooked!
2. What lead you to purchase The Players Theatre? Please tell us about the history of the Theatre.
I had been traveling extensively with the Ethos Percussion Group and was getting tired of the road. I needed to figure out some way to stay home! Upon leaving the group I was out in the village with my wife Lisa and we saw a “For Sale” sign on the Players Theatre. A light bulb went off inside my head and we've been the happy owners ever since. We produce our own shows and concerts and host other productions both.
The theatre has a rich history. Built in 1907, it is one of the oldest Off-Broadway venues still in operation. For ages, the theatre site was a horse stable and parking garage. Thankfully, in the late 1940's it was converted into a theatre and over the many years since it has hosted some wonderful shows, including Ruthless, a musical that premiered in 1992 and starred future Broadway actress Laura Bell Bundy – Natalie Portman and Britney Spears served as understudies!
Since taking over ownership of the theatre we've produced Treasure Island, Cinderella, A Christmas Carol and Phantom of the Opera. We also produce Percussion People which enters its 5th season this fall.
Also, the famous Cafe Wha?, which has been a mainstay of Greenwich Village since the 1960's, is in the basement of the theatre. Musicians Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan got their start here, along with comedians Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor.
3. Do you have any advice for aspiring drummers?
The best advice I can give is to always play what you love. If you do, you’ll always be at the top of your game.
4. If you didn’t have the chance to play the drums, what instrument would you play?
I would play the trumpet. That was usually the next instrument available at the resort when all the snare drums were taken!
5. Tell us about your experience with SABIAN. What is your favorite cymbal?
I've used SABIAN cymbals for about 15 years and it has been great. My favorite cymbal is an 18” HH Suspended that Nick Petrella picked out for me at Drummer’s World in Manhattan. I have used it on every recording I have made since then and still use it today at the theatre.
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