BY ELISABETH ANDREWS
Mike Price has one of the more recognizable faces in Bloomington, having performed with nearly every theater outfit in town, including the Bloomington Playwrights Project, Brown County Playhouse, Monroe County Civic Theater, and Cardinal Stage Company, where he is also associate artistic director. Known for his incredible range, he’s played everything from the mouse in If You Give a Mouse a Cookie to Anne Frank’s father in The Diary of Anne Frank. He’s done classics, musicals, and absurdist drama, sliding seemingly effortlessly from roles like the preacher in The Grapes of Wrath to Frog in A Year with Frog and Toad and, most recently, Doolittle in My Fair Lady—always to rave reviews.
Given this success, you might assume that the 45-year-old bachelor would be circulating his headshot among casting directors in hopes of gracing bigger stages and cities. But the happiness Price has found in Bloomington, he says, could never be replicated on Broadway.
“I like being part of a community,” he says, explaining that his staff role at Cardinal Stage involves everything from selecting plays to taking promotional photographs. Any given day might find him reading alongside prospective Juliets at a casting call, hauling props to or from a theater, or adjusting sound settings in full costume in between acts. “I can’t think of any repetition of exactly how I work or what I do, ever,” he says.
Price, who holds a graduate degree in instructional systems technology, says he fell backwards into professional acting. Though he has enjoyed theater since his school days in Griffith, Indiana, he expected it to remain a hobby and declined to pursue formal training. After working as a videographer at IU, he was hired as a technical director at the John Waldron Arts Center, and then at Cardinal as Artistic Director Randy White’s right-hand man. Everything he knows, he says, he has learned through mentorships within Bloomington’s vibrant theater community. He adds, however, in typical self-deprecating fashion, “If you watch and listen closely, you can tell I’m untrained.”
Price admits he’s sometimes envious of the other actors Cardinal hires, who can go home after rehearsal while he continues to toil over every aspect of the “odyssey” that makes up each production. But when he considers how easily most actors become typecast and pigeonholed, he remembers how lucky he feels.
“If I can survive in this amorphous, ridiculous lifestyle I’ve been living, I like that,” he says.