A tale of two Michaels – Profile of Principal Michael Handy

Michael Handy’s two roles in upcoming performances of Peer Gynt and Bach’s Coffee Cantata could not be more different.

“Peer Gynt is a complex character and it's a dark and demanding role” he said during a break in rehearsing being tempted by amorous dairymaids awaiting their troll suitors. On the other hand, “The Coffee Cantata is funny and bright - with sparklers!”

A professional singer, Michael brings a wealth of musical experience and a unique tenor tone to his two roles.

A fan of Disney musicals at 10, his constant singing at home inspired his mother to enroll him into a semi-professional children’s musical theatre group. “I thrived there” says Michael, six months later landing the role of Colin in The Secret Garden, and later, Oliver, in Oliver Twist. “Unfortunately for Mum, this only made the singing-at-home issues worse!”

Michael only realised that he was a natural classical tenor when singing Gilbert and Sullivan opposite a very strong baritone. It forced him to take singing lessons three times a week. His singing teacher recognised Michael’s gift, and expanded his musical world to Strauss operettas, church music and, Michael’s favorite, 17th and 18th Century French Music.

Michael met Artistic Director, Christine Logan, six years ago when she was directing, and he was principal, in The Yeomen of the Guard.  He was delighted to be invited by her to play the love interest in Bach’s Coffee Cantata. Its frivolous, satirical tone runs counter to the common perception of Bach. “Bach’s day job was to write for music for the church”, Michael says, “the Coffee Cantata is when Bach let his hair down”. He loves that it reflects the jamming music scene in Leipzig coffee houses, where famous composers relaxed and enjoyed themselves. “It’s sad the Coffee Cantata is the only piece of Bach’s genius that survived from that scene”.

Peer Gynt, Michael feels, is a romantic, exciting, but troubled soul. “He is a man who does not take a position in life and when faced with a problem, he just changes direction. This inevitably leads him headlong into disaster.”  Michael himself doesn’t seem to have any problems as Peer, working with three sexy female leads, one of whom is his girlfriend.

Michael is relieved Endangered Production rehearsals are now back on track. “Covid 19 has been tough” he says. His gigs were cancelled and as a performer “you need to sing and perform”. Rehearsals bring him alive and he feels the joy of the other performers. When asked what he hopes people will get out of seeing these performances, Michael says, “These pieces are accessible to all. I hope everyone will enjoy this unique mix of history and art”.