Although he is most recognized for his role as Patrick on the FX/FOX comedy series Anger Management starring Charlie Sheen, Michael Arden is also a respected and talented singer, composer, and director.
Currently, Michael is directing the Tony-winning musical Spring Awakening. This soulful coming-of-age story sent shockwaves through Broadway in 2006, opened at Broadway’s Brooks Atkinson Theatre in September for a limited engagement through January.
The staging is based on the Deaf West Theatre production that will be performed simultaneously in American Sign Language and spoken English by a cast of 27. The musical is a coming-of-age story set in 19th Century Germany, based on the 1891 play of the same title.
PopWrapped got to sit down with Michael and get an update on his latest Awakening adventure. We also talked everything from Donald Trump to Charlie Sheen and everything in between.
PopWrapped: I have to start out by asking you about playing Spring Awakening at the White House this week. How exciting was that?
Michael Arden: It was really exciting. We have been prepping for it for a while now, and we had to modify our sets for the smaller stage. I felt so honored to be there and having a discussion about the Disabilities Act and the fact that the arts can bring such social relevance and forward thinking and so inclusive of everyone within the arts. It was a thrilling day for everyone; we had a great time.
PW: You wear the director's hat in Spring Awakening. You also implemented sign language and deaf actors into the performance. Please share with us a little about that process to bring the two together and to the stage.
MA: Ultimately, Spring Awakening, at its core, is a story about communication and both the love and the perils that can arise when communication is withheld or unclear. It just seemed like a natural fit to try to do this play in both languages and say something about deaf culture at the time and how people have been marginalized and silenced over the years.
PW: Marlee Matlin is also involved in the project. Can you share a little bit about how she got involved in the production?
MA: She came into play when we moved to Broadway. I texted her and said, "Hey Marlee we're going to Broadway, you have to do the show," and we met and talked about it. She went back and forth for a while, and now she is doing it.
PW: (Fun Question) In my research for the interview, I saw that you did a Dominos Pizza commercial with Donald Trump. Does he have your vote in 2016?
MA: Um, I can't promise that he has my vote. (long pause) LOL
PW: I just wanted to ask you about working for two seasons as "Patrick" on Anger Management. What was it like working with Charlie Sheen?
MA: It was wonderful. Charlie is an incredible actor and became a wonderful friend over that time. It was wild that we were filming so many episodes so back to back; sometimes, we would look around and say, 'okay so what episode are we filming right now?' because we were just blazing through them. It's a true feat in television that we were able to do one hundred episodes in that short amount of time. It was really good, and Charlie is wonderful. He was always a wonderful friend to me. I'm excited to see what he does next. I hope he continues acting because he is so good at it.
PW: What comes to mind when I say 'Andy Mientus'? I know he is in the Spring Awakening production. What was it like working with him and having him as a partner in life?
MA: Um, I'm staring at him right now. He is just wonderful -- not only one of my favorite actors but also one of the smartest people I've ever met, if not the smartest. Getting to work with him both as a director/actor -- and you can't, of course, pretend that so much of my creative process and my ideas I get don't come from him when we're sitting at home or walking through the park talking about work. That's one of the reasons I love him so much and respect him so much as an artist. It's been a real thrill. I think we were both a bit nervous about working together, but it's been an absolute joy -- and we haven't killed each other yet.
Follow Michael on all of his social media accounts -- Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook -- as his journey continues. Make sure, if you are in the New York area, you get your tickets for Spring Awakening through January 24th!