Getting to Know Board Member Michael Carter

Michael Carter

Kate King Turner

To familiarize folks with the members of the Board of Directors of Sun Lakes Community Theatre (SLCT), we’ll be featuring a director each month for the next seven months. This month our focus is on Michael Carter, membership and business director.

Born in Washington, D.C., Michael moved to Sun Lakes permanently in 2006 after retiring from New York State’s Suffolk County Community College where he was a Counseling Center for Academics and Psychology professor. Before that, he was the Director of Student Aid. Moving to Sun Lakes was a choice made partly due to the weather and because he and his wife of nearly 52 years (Susan) had family in the area.

An article in the Splash caught Michael’s attention and drew him to SLCT. It was written by former member Jack Gardner, a retired professional Broadway actor. Jack was offering a six-week course on acting skills. Michael signed up, which eventually inspired him to attend an audition for a show that Jack would be directing, supposedly just to “observe” the process. But when Jack mentioned to everyone that he was looking for someone who could dress up in drag, all eyes turned to Michael. And, viola, Michael was in the opening scene of My Sister Eileen, dressed in a gown, wearing high heels, sporting a wig, and carrying a parasol to cover his face so the audience wouldn’t see his mustache and beard. All he had to do, said Jack, was strut across the stage, turn around, snap his fingers, and pull off the wig. Michael still remembers how hard it was to walk in those size 11 wedge-heeled shoes. That wasn’t his only scene, though. He also danced in a conga line with a few sailors, portrayed a strap-hanging subway rider, and, finally, a hunter who carried a rifle and wore a pith helmet. He got to say a couple of lines in that scene. It was all enough to get him hooked on live theatre, even though he had never been on stage as an actor in his life. He estimates he’s been in 13 or 14 shows during his time with SLCT.

When asked about his favorite role, Michael quickly responded, “Juror number 5 in Twelve Angry Jurors. It was the most challenging character I ever played.” But Michael isn’t one to back down from a challenge. He’s had some pretty major ones in his life. Having been diagnosed with cancer and having his left arm amputated at age 13, prompted him to adapt and learn to overcome all kinds of obstacles. “I just wanted to be a regular kid, do kid things, date girls, stuff like that,” he said cheerfully. “So, I learned to do everything a person with two hands could do—just with only one hand.” He was even able to learn how to successfully open, close, and brandish a switchblade during the production, as it was called for in the script. He did it and did it well.

Michael has fond memories of all the directors he’s worked with at SLCT. In addition to Jack Gardner, he worked with Howard Hummell, Penny Petersen, Linda Caton, Sandy Pallett, and Diana Nelinson. He has also been a house manager, ushered at several shows, and has done ticket sales. Michael has served on the board a number of times, including a year as president. He takes his membership directorship very seriously. He personally calls every new member and is compiling a list of every member’s areas of interest. Thank you for your service to SLCT, Michael.