5 Questions with Michael McElroy

5 Questions with Michael McElroy of Broadway Inspirational Voices

You may know Michael McElroy from his Broadway credits in The Who’s Tommy, RENT, The Wild Party, his Tony-nominated role in Big River, Next to Normal, and Sunday in the Park with George, or his involvement as a founding member of Black Theatre United. However, you may also recognize Michael from his role as the founder and director of Broadway Inspirational Voices, a diverse, professional choir of Broadway artists united to change lives through the power of music and service.

This year, after 27 years serving as the Artistic Director, Michael McElroy plans to step down from his post and pass the baton to his protégé, Haitian-American multi-hyphenate composer Allen René Louis.

For his final concert, Michael and Broadway Inspirational Voices will perform at sold-out concerts live and in-person June 19 and 20 at Little Island, New York’s newest public park. The concerts will be available to stream virtually online for one night only on Wednesday, June 30 at 7:00 PM ET. The concert will be free to stream, with donations to the not-for-profit choir encouraged.

Michael answers 5 questions for Broadway Direct, where he tells us about how Broadway Inspirational Voices was created, the artists who’ve inspired him, and looking forward to returning to the theater.

1. What inspired you to become an actor, singer, and musical director and then go on to become the founder of Broadway Inspirational Voices?

I grew up in a household of musicians listening to all kinds of music. My uncle was a musical director and would take me to rehearsals with him. I fell in love with the process and was hooked when I saw it all come together in performance. BIV was born out of wanting to bring healing to our community during the AIDS epidemic. Gospel music was a big part of my formative years and I wanted to bring a diverse group of Broadway performers together to do a benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids. The response was overwhelming and it grew from 11 singers to the over 70 singers we have today.

2. Who in your field inspires you?

Those artists who are fiercely passionate about their artistry but are kind and graceful. Brilliant, interesting, funny, intuitive, special. The person that comes to mind immediately is Phylicia Rashad. She has been a mentor, friend, fellow performer, member of BIV, and shifts the energy of every room she enters. I admire her greatly and aspire to have more of her patience, strength and kindness.

3. What will audiences be most excited about seeing in your upcoming projects?

BIV is opening Little Island’s amphitheater on the 19th and 20th of June. This will be our first live performance as a choir since our gala in March of 2020. It’s such an honor to come back into community as a choir, in a place that was built for the community. For those who aren’t able to see it we are filming it and it will stream starting June 30th on Broadway.com. During the height of the pandemic it was essential that we continued to get the music out into the world. We pivoted to virtual and were able to do so. Our holiday concert was virtual and as a result we were able to increase our fan base on an international scale. Doing a stream starting on the 30th will give us the opportunity to continue reaching those new fans and continue to share the healing power of music with them.

4. What are some things you’ve always wanted to do that you’re able to spend time on now?

Writing. Creating new work. I have three musicals I have worked on and never been able to finish. Now I have a bit more time before I start my new job.

5. What NYC spot are you missing most now?

This is easy. The theater. That’s it. The human connection and power of live performance. I look forward to its return. We need live theater. We are hungry for that energy that exists between audience and actors. I’m encouraged by all the work I see happening to ensure our industry comes back in a more inclusive way. This has been a tough time all around but it has given us a moment to reimagine, and put into place structures that will allow the theater to come what we dream it can be. A space that celebrates diversity on and off the stage, in the boardrooms, and in the offices where decisions are made.

You can catch Michael McElroy in the upcoming livestream with Broadway Inspirational Voices, and his instagram @michaelmichaeltheartist.