Soap Stars Guiding Light: Son Illuminates 'Berg Musical For Michael Tylo
April 18, 1997
by Rosa Salter
The Morning Call
When actor Michael Tylo needed help with his premiere performing role with an orchestra, the soap opera star turned to his 15-year-old son, Christopher, to be his musical guiding light.
"He keeps telling me, `This is not a race between you and the orchestra as to who is going to finish faster,' " former "Guiding Light" archaeologist-cum-detective Quint Chamberlain said with a laugh over the telephone.
"He's first-chair violinist at a school for the arts out here in Los Angeles, and he composes and transposes music, so I guess he knows what he's talking about."
Tylo's performance in Allentown on Saturday night as narrator of Aaron Copland's "Lincoln Portrait" during the Muhlenberg Wind Ensemble's annual spring concert sprang from another collaboration no less unusual -- this one with the group's director, Al Neumeyer.
Neumeyer, co-owner of The Inn of the Falcon in Salisbury Township, and Tylo, a former Allentown College student who has returned for starring roles in Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival productions, were introduced to each other in late 1995 through a mutual friend, Gary O'Guinn of Bethlehem, marketing and public relations director for the college's theater and performing arts department.
Neumeyer, a Muhlenberg College adjunct professor of music, and the actor quickly became friends. "We were in the bar one night, and Michael was talking about how he was trying to get a program started down at Allentown College," Neumeyer related. "I had seen him last year when he played Iago (in `Othello'), and he was absolutely incredible. So I said to him, `What you need is some publicity. You need to be spotlighted within this community.' "And then I said, `And guess what? I have the perfect vehicle.' "
"I've known Al and Shirlee (Neumeyer's wife and inn co-owner) for a while, and my son is a big fan of Al's, so when Al asked me to do this reading, I thought, `Why not?' " said Tylo, even though he had never worked with an orchestra before.
To prepare for the role, which involves reading Lincoln's words aloud and telling the story of his life and principles against a musical backdrop, Tylo listened to a recording of the late U.S. Secretary of State Adlai Stevenson performing the piece with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
He also consulted his in-house expert, Christopher. "I know I'm not supposed to talk until they tell me to," said Tylo, adding that his only musical talent is playing the piano "like everybody else -- badly."
Although Tylo, to the delight of fans, reprised his swashbuckling "Guiding Light" role briefly last year after a several-years hiatus as Rick on "The Young and the Restless," he will be spending more time in the Lehigh Valley and less of him on TV.
The actor is now taking a break from contract roles in the soaps so he can work on starting what he called a "performance-oriented" TV and film department at Allentown College. "We're in the process of building a studio right now," he said, adding that by the fall, the studio should be "broadcast-ready" and the first courses offered. "It will be a TV and film major, and there will be tracks in writing, directing, acting and producing."
Courses in TV and film history, media law and ethics, and writing for specific genres such as news, soap opera and situation comedy are planned. Tylo also will use his contacts in the business to lure actors and others to teach on a guest basis and to place students in junior-and senior-year internships.
The 49-year-old Tylo, who attended Allentown College for one semester, graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees in acting and directing from Wayne State University.
He said he's wanted to teach since his graduate school days, and in the last few years he's been arranging his life so it could happen. For the last several months, Tylo has been living part-time in the Los Angeles area and part-time in the Lehigh Valley, flying in every two weeks or so to work on his Allentown College project.
He and his wife, Hunter Tylo (formerly Taylor Hayes on "The Bold and the Beautiful" and lately involved in a much-publicized contract dispute with "Melrose Place" producers unhappy at her recent pregnancy), have bought a home in the Emmaus area and plan to move there with their three children in the next year.
Although at the moment he has his eye on academia, Tylo also plans to keep his fingers in acting.
"If I do (go back to the soaps), it wouldn't be under contract," he said, adding he would consider recurring-role status. "I'll be taking the occasional bad-guy role," he said. "I've made a career out of playing bad guys, and I enjoy it."
The Muhlenberg Wind Ensemble will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday in Empie Theater, Baker Center for the Arts, Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew St., Allentown.
Also on the program will be the overture from George Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess," music from the musical "The Fantasticks," a Haydn concerto for trumpet and orchestra and a suite for band by Villa-Lobos. Admission is free. 821-3363.