Diminutive Michele Marie Roberts possesses a glorious singing voice and a stinging sense of comedy. She graduated from the Niagara University theater and fine arts program in 1998, and worked with her university mentor, the late Tim Ward, on shows at the Lancaster Opera House before she burst into prominence on the Buffalo theater scene with the MusicalFare production of Zooma Zooma, a revue of the music of Louis Prima created by Michael Walline in 2004. She has frequently worked at MusicalFare since then (Putnam County Spelling Bee, The Who’s Tommy, Sisters of Swing, etc.), and has also been seen on the stages of Shakespeare in Delaware Park, Theatre of Youth, Artpark, Studio Arena, O’Connell and Company, Kavinoky, and Second Generation Theatre Company (for whom she was a memorable and Artie winning Sara Jane Moore in Sondheim’s Assassins).
Currently, Roberts is screamingly funny in the deadpan role of long-suffering Countess Charlotte Malcolm in Sondheim’s A Little Night Music at the Irish Classical Theatre Company. Charlotte can’t help loving that man of hers, despite the fact that he is a philandering, egomaniacal, dimwitted jerk. The role affords Roberts the opportunity to showcase her gifts for onstage sarcasm and her magnificent singing voice. Then she gets to zap us with her surprise capacity to bring a tear to the eye with Charlotte’s painful confession, “Every Day a Little Death,” about how her love entraps her in a life of misery. It is a brilliant performance.
By day, Roberts is married to the equally talented actor and improvisation artist Todd Benzin and the mother of their two children. Here, she submits to The Public Questionnaire.
What word would your friends use to describe you? Short.
What quality in your current character is most unlike your own personality? Charlotte is a lot more passive-aggressive then I ever hope to be.
What quality in your current character is most like your own personality? Sarcasm.
When and where were you the happiest? Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital. March 1, 2009 at 11:49am and August 14, 2013 at 7:54am.
What is your idea of hell on earth? Remember that scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom where Kate Capshaw is walking through that room full of spiders and bugs? GAH! The WORST!
What is your greatest fear? Open water. Not knowing what is living and swimming underneath you? Sweet Jesus! And I’m a scuba diver, so figure that one out.
Which talent do you most wish you had? I wish I could skillfully play the piano or guitar. Both of which I have in my home. So I guess I wish I had the talent to get off my ass and learn.
What superpower do you most wish you had? Is it possible to be an amalgamation of a Jedi, Mystique, Superman, and Hermione Granger? So a polymath wielding the all-pervading vital energy of the universe who can shape shift, fly, and Expelliarmus!
What would you change about your appearance? I wouldn’t turn down a tummy tuck.
What trait do you most despise in others? Selfishness.
What trait do you most despise in yourself? Pessimism.
What do you most value in your friends? Dependability.
What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment? Surviving and overcoming infertility treatments for two years. She was worth every second.
What is your guilty pleasure? There is nothing quite like watching great TV with a spoon and a jar of Nutella at your side.
What character from fiction do you identify with most? Arya Stark, Game of Thrones. I was such a tomboy growing up and was more interested in my brother’s blaster and lightsaber than I was in dresses and Barbies. Plus she is pretty badass.
What person from history do you identify with most? I truly believe Madeline Kahn and Judy Garland had something to do with my existence.
What do you consider to be the most overrated virtue? Thrift. We only live once.
On what occasion do you lie? To get my kids to eat, go to bed…you know, parent survival. “Oh, sorry, you can’t have Wendy’s for dinner because it closed early today.” “No, you can’t watch TV anymore tonight. Mommy only paid the cable bill up until 6pm.” It’s in the same vein as growing up thinking that eating spinach would make me a bowlegged sailor with great arms.
What was the subject of your last Google search? When is St. Joseph’s Day, 2016.
If you come back in another life, what person or thing would you like to be? A dancer. Theatrically speaking, I’m in the category of a “good mover.” I’d love to be like Mikhail Baryshnikov in White Nights doing 11 pirouettes for 11 rubles.
What is your most prized possession? A stuffed cow that was signed and given to me by Julie Burdick [an actress and NU grad who died suddenly at the age of 25 back in 2007] after we closed Oklahoma at Artpark. I bring it with me to every show I do and it sits on my dressing room table from opening night to closing. I’m almost 40 years old and I still hug that cow during shows every now and then.
What role, in which you will never be cast, is actually perfect for you? I remember watching a documentary of the casting of Lea Salonga as Kim in Miss Saigon. She sang “Sun and Moon” for Claude-Michel Schonberg on piano with Nicholas Hytner, Cameron Mackintosh, and Alain Boublil watching. I’m not sure I am perfect for Kim, but I sang that score from 1990 to every day in my car presently, so I know it inside and out.
What is your motto? Do. Or do not. There is no try.