MPZ Productions and Touching Humanity, Inc. brought Broadway to Great Barrington with their Andrew Lloyd Webber Songbook back in August. Next up is The Tony Bennett Songbook with two performances on November 19
— popular music at its very best. Now’s the perfect time to learn about the man behind these productions: Michael Pizzi.
Q. We’re so glad you’re bringing these “Songbook” concerts to Saint James Place! What motivated you to produce shows featuring the works of Andrew Lloyd Webber and now Tony Bennett?
I’ve been a performer all of my adult life, but I chose to become an occupational therapist, working with people to maximize their ability to be productive and participate in things that were meaningful to them. Philanthropy was always meaningful to me, so I now produce and occasionally perform in some of those productions where I can offer nonprofits, like the People’s Pantry,
a percentage of our proceeds. It’s important for me to perform but more important to give back.
As to the shows I choose, I tend toward composers or singers who I admire, whose works have been popular or whose work I have always enjoyed. I’ve been singing, for decades, work by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jerry Herman, Stephen Sondheim, Gershwins, Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor….so you can see it isn’t just Broadway but also popular singers I enjoy. All of these people are represented in various shows I’ve produced and I hope to bring them all to the Berkshires.
Q. What is your background / history of performing and producing?
A. My first lead was Heinsie in “The Pajama Game” in a summer program in Toms River NJ at the age of 14 and was hooked. My senior year of high school I was Moonie in “Anything Goes” then various shows in college. My junior year my college said they weren’t doing a musical that year, so I went into action, got $200 from the student council and produced my first show with 20 other college peers. We were sold out for 3 nights much to the chagrin of many faculty and administrators ! We raised $900 that I donated to the Hospice of Lancaster (PA).
Ever since then, I’ve been in many community productions (Che in “Evita,” The Baker in “Into the Woods,” Pirelli (and later The Judge) in “Sweeney Todd.”) I also did some opera productions. I started producing shows when I bought a home in Pinehurst, NC where they had/have no real professional musical theater. I brought friends from NYC for a “Best of Broadway” show I put together, and an audience came, so producing and creating professional shows became something I have loved doing for the past 7 years. I also get to work with amazingly talented people, most from the world of Broadway and regional theater, and we have a lot of fun along the way.
Q. What brought you to the Berkshires?
A. My husband and I have had a home in the Berkshires since 2008. We recently moved to Berkshire Country Meadows in Pittsfield where we have wonderful neighbors and a great development. Being a performer, I have so enjoyed the assorted cultural experiences the Berkshires offer, and I hope to contribute to that environment. As I said, the purpose for all of my shows is not just to provide entertainment, but to also support the Berkshires community. I hope we can build an audience that will keep coming !
Q. What other shows are you interested in / thinking about producing?
A. I mentioned several before, but I am also working on a Tony Bennett/Frank Sinatra show, but I need to find my Frank! I think I have some leads on that 🙂 Stay tuned for many more offerings by MPZ Productions and let’s all support the community of artists as well as our non-profits!
Thanks, Michael! Tickets available now
for The Tony Bennett Songbook, November 19, 3:00pm and 7:00pm in Saint James Place’s Sanctuary Space. Come enjoy standards like I Left My Heart in San Francisco
and I Gotta Be Me
enhanced by our amazing acoustics!