Michael “Mike” Nelson, is becoming somewhat of an unsung hero outside the theatre and I want to try and fix that. For those of you who don’t know, Mike is responsible for directing the musicians at the Quick as a Wink productions of Annie, Grease, The Music Man, as well as St. Josephs Stage Prophets’ Mary Poppins, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and the very successful Anne and Gilbert. If you happen to see Mike, make sure to compliment him. Mike grew up in the Falmouth-Windsor area in a family that he describes as “not particularly musical”. Once he entered high school, that changed. At that time, he joined the Windsor Regional High School Band, which encompassed about 1/3 of the whole school that went grades 7-12. He joined partially because of the guidance of his friend’s father, Brian Johnston. As he progressed through high school, Mike then started having private lessons with Acadia wood wind professor Stan Fisher. After a couple years, Mike enrolled at Acadia to pursue a degree in music with an emphasis on education and his main tutelage fell to Bob McCarthy. At this point, Mike was a part of the Acadia ensemble band where he participated in his first musical, Nunsense. A few years after finishing his first degree in music, Mike started on a second degree at Acadia, this time in education with an emphasis on music. Doing this meant he would be the 4th generation in his family to pursue an education degree. Not long after he finished his second degree, Mike become acquainted with Thea because he was teaching her two youngest children while working at the Wolfville School.
Around the same time, Mike started working with a number of different theatres in the area. At first, he was working in the pit band for shows such as Oklahoma, Cinderella, Peter Pan and Into the Woods at Quick as a Wink Theatre. Over the last couple years however, Mike has been working as the conductor for Quick as a Wink in the shows mentioned above as well as becoming the music director for St. Joseph Stage Prophets. Mike tells me that Mary Poppins was one of his most memorable shows to work on because it was his first time taking the musical lead for a production. He said it was empowering to be given the honour of having musical control allowing him the freedom to take the music where he wanted, but more importantly the support he received from the cast and crew. And having experienced it first hand, I can say that the production was astounding.