The year 2020 changed everything for Creatives all over the planet, and Michael E. Russo was no exception. What with film, television and theatre productions shut down, Mike expanded his repertoire to include podcasting and audiobook narrations. It’s just the latest chapter in a performing life that can best be described as rich and varied.
Mike attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, studying Voice with Charlie Sorrento. Following his graduation, he continued his education two ways. First, with classes, such as Scene Study with veteran character actor & teacher George DiCenzo, Improvisation classes with Jill Whelan, formerly of “The Love Boat”, and voice lessons with NYU professor Jerry Stone. He then made a practical application of what he’d learned by appearing on local stages, performing in productions of Shakespeare, Shaw, Tennessee Williams and musicals.
Mike then branched out into film, working primarily with local filmmakers. He appeared in Gary Irwin’s innovative short, “Mortality”, and in John Charles Hunt’s “Jersey Justice”, starring Blanche Baker (“Sixteen Candles”), Christopher Mann (“The Wire”) and Bo Svenson (“Inglorious Bastards”). He briefly appeared in Rachel McAdam’s comedy “Morning Glory”, which also starred Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton. He was also seen on the television series “Forensic Files” in the episode entitled “Forever Hold Your Peace”.
Not forgetting the musician side of his life, he composed the choral work, “Ash Wednesday (remember)” while a member of a local church. When he became interim Music Director for that church, he found himself with virtually no budget and a nine-member choir. This led to him having to craft original arrangements that worked well for the choir he had. Those arrangements are now for sale at Sheet Music Plus.
A heart attack in 2018 forced Mike to take another look at his professional life to see if he could still be creative and not have to travel quite so much. Toward that end he enrolled in David H. Lawrence XVII’s VO Heroes program, studying all aspects of voiceover work. Two paths came from his studies: a podcast, “Creative Care Unit”, and performing audiobooks. The podcast deals with how Mike deals with life since the heart attack and interviews with medical professionals and Creatives who have dealt with the challenges of their life. The audiobooks offer him a chance to be a one-man repertory company, giving life to multiple characters while honing his directing chops.
When not working, Mike enjoys swimming, bowling and touring historic sites. He also enjoys yoga and walks with his wife Gail. An avid reader (which helps with the audiobooks), he enjoys biographies and histories in general, and the works of Robert B. Parker and David McCullough in particular. When he really wants to relax, you can find him in the kitchen whipping up a batch of chocolate chip cookies or s’mores brownies. A good Lutheran Christian, his faith has him supporting local ministries and Amnesty International.