This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

Questions &Answers

Published: January 27, 2005

Michael Formato is production manager in the Department of Theatre and Dance, College of Arts and Sciences.

What are your duties as production manager for the Department of Theatre and Dance?
My job is coordinating the many elements that go into creating a production from the ground up. This would include creating and maintaining budgets, arranging contracts for the rights and royalties, running the audition process, coordinating various workspaces for rehearsals and acting as liaison between the theatre and dance department and various elements of the Center for the Arts. I often refer to myself as a plumber—I make things flow.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The interaction with the students—helping them be a part of this creative process we call performing arts. I once explained to a supervisory type that I work for the students; I work with everyone else.

I understand you're also a performer. Tell me about some of your on-stage roles.
I have performed and I expect I will again, but it is not my main kick. My last two roles were as Moonface Martin in "Anything Goes" at Artpark and as Benny Southstreet in "Guys & Dolls" at the Kavinoky. Performing in a show is so much easier than producing a show!

You have a bachelor's degree in human development and a master's degree in counseling. How did you end up pursuing a career in the theater?
This would be a much longer answer than you would have space to report. The short version is that I love theater and dance, and I have always been motivated to help people—especially young people. That is why I have stayed in educational theater-I can do both simultaneously. By the way, do not suppose that I do not use my counseling skills at UB. On nearly a daily basis, some student avails himself or herself of my help on issues not related to performing arts.

Your wife, Lynne Kurdziel-Formato, directs the musical theater program at UB. What's it like working so closely with your spouse?
Lynne has devoted her life to her students and her program—she created it—at UB, so if I want to see her much, and I do, it is a real blessing to work in the same general area. Lynne has been called a "living treasure," and I agree.

What do you do in your spare time? Do you go to the theater, or do you do something completely different?
I love theme parks, especially Disney, Universal and Busch Gardens. I am an avid Buffalo Bills football fan. Lynne and I work so much that we have very few free nights to do much of anything—theater schedules tend to run all at the same time—but when it is possible, we catch as many theater and dance productions in Western New York as we can. We do take trips to New York City about twice a year to keep up with the Broadway scene.

What question do you wish I had asked, and how would you have answered it?
What is the status of the performing arts here at UB? The performing arts in the university setting are a vital component of any institution that purports to embrace the collective work of humanity. This principle is endangered when the same parameters used to judge objective science are applied to set value on art—especially "living art" such as that which is experienced in live theater. Any university, even a research institution, needs to embrace the full spectrum of studies and judge each according to the standards of that particular discipline.