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Quizzing actor Liz Mikel about pivotal roles, characters she's embraced ... and shoes

 Actor Liz Mikel shares her wisdom in our new series Good Question!
Holt Haynsworth/Haynsworth Photography
Actor Liz Mikel shares her wisdom in our new series Good Question!

8 questions for Dallas Theater Center actor Liz Mikel.

Welcome to our new series Good Question! We’ll get to know DFW movers and shakers a little bit better with a few quirky and thought-provoking questions.

Up first, Dallas’ own Liz Mikel. Mikel is a veteran actor and singer who has been part of Dallas Theater Center’s Diane and Hal Brieley Resident Acting Company for 30 years. Currently she’s tackling the role of the Stage Manager in DTC’s production of Our Town. She’s also done regional theater, Broadway and TV’s Friday Night Lights.

As Jerome Weeks reported last week, Mikel is headed off to Broadway again, this time at the Roundabout Theater performing in a revival of the Tony Award-winning musical 1776.

We caught up with her to ask about favorite roles, favorite advice and favorite shoes.

When you are offered a part, how do you know if it’s going to be a great role?

Liz: My concern is that I’m doing my best job as an actor and being authentic to the character and to the vision of the director and the story. Case in point, the Stage Manager in Our Town that I'm currently performing. This role has traditionally been done by white men--older white men. To be able to go into a classic reimagined is a major thing for me as an actor. So that's when I look at opportunities to stretch myself as an actor to grow and that's what I'm always striving to do and to be authentic

What’s the soundtrack for your life?

Liz: It may be a little cliche, but My Way. I've done a cabaret show called "Liz Gets Frank," and I get pretty teared up when I sing “My Way” because, you know, the words resonate. It resonates. It connects.

What was your most memorable performance?

Liz: Wow. OK. I can tell you a definite performance in particular. It was opening night for Lysistrata Jones on Broadway. I'd been telling myself the whole time, “Oh, you do regional theater, you've done theater all over the country. This is just another opening night. You've been here before.” I got to the theater and something washed over me—"Oh, you are on Broadway!” I started crying. I thought I couldn't get myself together. It was like I was stepping outside of myself. And when I stepped on stage that night, it was a charge in the air like I never felt in my life and I was beside myself. I had been doing this show for months, but that particular night, it was like I was doing it for the first time. It was just an out-of-body experience.

What's your dream role?

Liz:  I would love to tackle anything in the August Wilson canon. I've never done any August Wilson. And in musicals, there are three that stick out to me immediately. Dolly Levi [Hello Dolly], Mama Rose [Gypsy], and Ursula [Little Mermaid]. And I would also love to play Mama Morton [Chicago] at some point.

What character are you on the inside?

Liz:  On the inside? [Laughs] I’m enough character for everybody! [Laughs] So what character? I don't know what character I’ve played that I have connected with more, but I'm so multifaceted there's part of me that is Dolly [Hello Dolly]. There's part of me that I guess is Evilene [The Wiz]. But I'm a little bit of everybody on the inside. I think that's why I can connect with the roles so much.

What keeps you awake at night? 

Liz: Sometimes the lines for the play. [Laughs] Especially like in Our Town, when it's such a mammoth undertaking of memory and memorizing lines, the lines will keep me up at night. I'm nocturnal by nature. And so, I end up trying to decompress by playing Candy Crush and doing something where I don't have to think about it. And that kind of resets me so that I can go to sleep. But I just kinda lay in my bed and those lines, start rolling in my head. And yeah, lines will keep me up at night.

What advice would you give to your 16-year-old self?

Liz:  Never pick up a cigarette. Take voice lessons. Keep moving, keep dancing. Stretch yourself artistically always, always. And this is what I still do today--always strive to grow. Never be afraid to step out.

Heels or flats?

Liz: Oh, my goodness. It depends. But right now, in my life, I'm going to say, Converses. I've got them in every color, sequins, rhinestone platforms. I have Converses to match everything I own. I was wearing stilettos down the hallway at Carter High when I was a senior in high school. I was wearing heels everywhere I could. Now I take the heels with me. If I'm doing an event or something where I have to wear heels, I put them on to stand up and sing. And when I finish, I take them off and I put my flats on. [Laughs].