Some Fatherly Tips From King Henry, err, Michael Tylo

June 23rd, 2005
By Myra Yellin Outwater
The Morning Call

This is the first time in nine years that actor Michael Tylo spent Father's Day away from his family. But Tylo says doing Shakespeare is an actor's dream and that's why he agreed to come East to play the title role in "Henry IV, Part 1," now playing at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival at DeSales University.

Tylo has had a long career in Hollywood and on television soaps such as "The Young and the Restless" and "The Guiding Light." He now lives in Las Vegas, where he teaches film and stage acting at the University of Las Vegas.

"Shakespeare is like the pinnacle for an actor," says Tylo, looking very regal in his newly grown beard. "Shakespeare is physical, intellectual and arduous. Many actors think it is easier than it is, which is why so many fail. But live theater is where I started, and since I have been teaching, I owe it to my students to keep current. There is nothing like Shakespeare to recharge your batteries and get back into acting. I learn so much from the rehearsal process. The actual performance is my reward."

Tylo says he particularly relishes the idea of playing the king, who is both a warrior and a father. The father of four — he has two sons, ages 17 and 24, and two daughters, ages 8 and 7 — says he thinks it is particularly appropriate at his age to be playing Henry.

"I am old enough now to understand the kinds of conflicts between fathers and sons," says Tylo. "As a father you want the best for your sons and daughters. You want to encourage without pushing them. This father is very conflicted, and his heir, Prince Hal, has been galavanting around the country with Falstaff. He knows that his is a dysfunctional family. It isn't until Act 3, Scene 2, that you get a sense of his feelings about what it means to be both a king and a father."

Tylo says he gives his students insight into the difference between preparing for the stage and preparing for a film role.

"Jimmy Cagney once said that to be a successful film actor you have to learn your lines, plant your feet, look at the other guy and tell the truth. In films you do your homework, learn your lines and then you get one shot at playing the roles. In the theater it's a constantly evolving process. You begin with one interpretation of your role and it keeps evolving through rehearsals."

This is Tylo's second show with the festival. In 1996, he starred as Iago in "Othello." Tylo was also instrumental in setting up the film department at DeSales University. In 1995 he was asked by festival founder Rev. Gerard Schubert to create the curriculum and recruit students for its classes.

Back at DeSales, Tylo is engaging in a reunion with an old friend. While a graduate student at Wayne State University, Tylo became friends with Wayne Turney, who plays Argan in "The Imaginary Invalid," which runs through July 3. Another classmate was the Shakespeare festival's artistic director, Dennis Razze. Tylo and Turney were in the MFA graduate acting program. Razze was in the MFA directing program. All three were members of the Hilberry Company, a group of graduate students who produced seven productions a year in rotating repertory. Turney has just been named associate professor of theater in the Performing and Fine Arts Department at DeSales.

"Henry IV, Part I," previews 8 p.m. today and opens 8 p.m. Friday, then runs 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, through July 3; also 7:30 p.m. June 26 and 2 p.m. July 2 and 9, DeSales University, Labuda Center for the Arts, 2755 Station Ave., Center Valley. Tickets: $24-$37. 610-282-WILL, http://www.pashakespeare.org.