Alumnus Michael Mainwaring makes dreams a reality

By Cherri Tung, Staff Writer

Have you ever wanted to become an actor but never thought you’ll have the opportunity? Well for Michael Mainwaring, he had the chance of a lifetime to realize his acting dreams.

It all started in first grade when he went to a song and dance competition with his brother at Montgomery Mall to win tickets for “Pokemon on Ice”. They won, and the rest is history. From then on, Mainwaring was cast in every school production from elementary school through high school.

His first performance was in fourth grade in CHS’ production of “The Music Man” as a river city kid. In seventh grade, he was cast professionally in Olney Theater’s production of “Oliver.” Another director saw the show and flew Mainwaring to New York to audition with Jeff Calhoun for Ford’s Theater “Shenandoah” where he and another actor played two Civil War era boys in war-torn Virginia.

Since then, he has been cast in scores of productions in the D.C. metro area, including “Dream Girls”, “Superstar”, “Sweeney Todd”, “Smokey Joe’s Cafe”, and “Godspell”.

From his rich and engaging embodiment of “Scannon the Dog” in a play about Lewis and Clark at Wayside Elementary, to his performance in “Anything Goes” at CHS in 2009 during his senior year, Mainwaring has prospered through musical theater.

Mainwaring also performs fairly regularly in D.C. at galas, cabarets, theater open houses and by invitation. He performs at and conducts workshops for Signature Theater’s annual open house nearly every year. He returned to CHS a few years ago to help prepare students for their production of “Songs for a New World”. He also gives private voice and dance lessons, and speaks at local high schools in New York City when invited.

Most of Mainwaring’s training came directly from the theater. As he was cast in various roles, the producers financed private acting, dance and voice lessons for him. Kristin Halliday, a voice coach who offers lessons in Potomac a few days each week, has been his voice coach since 2005.

Normally when people or actors go up on stage they feel anxious or nervous, but not Mainwaring.
“Nervousness before the show becomes excitement, then I can ride the wave of the performance,” Mainwaring said.

Even though life as an actor can be transformative and innovating, there are still some difficulties in entering a career in the musical theater world.

“Once, I was hired to be in a show overseas which turned out to be an anti-gay propaganda piece,” Mainwaring said. “I had no choice but to back out at the last minute because I didn’t agree with the morality of the material.”

Mainwaring faces additional challenges in his career, such as auditioning and rehearsals. His type of profession can also lead down a road fraught with high and bitter competition. But according to his mother, Mainwaring is able to face any challenge that is thrown his way.

“Michael is indomitable,” his mother and English 10 teacher Valerie Mainwaring said. “Despite the fact that in a performer’s world the majority of auditions result in rejection, he always rebounds and moves onto the next opportunity.”

Valerie Mainwaring has always had a positive mindset towards Michael’s theater experience and could not be more proud.

“Sometimes I’m overwhelmed with how lucky [I’ve] been to have Michael as our son,” she said.
Despite the setbacks, nothing seems to be able to stop Mainwaring from his passion of acting.
“This is a lifelong journey,” Mainwaring said. “Acting is not necessarily limited to the stage. It involves many aspects of life.”

Those who believe they can push forward until the end like Mainwaring should maintain a positive mindset.

According to Mainwaring, the best thing for aspiring actors to do would be to “put out content.” Especially in today’s society, technology and social media can be used as a tool to show who you are. Doing so, would allow for confidence and a freedom of expression.
“Acting is more than performing on a stage,” Mainwearing said.