Encore Michigan

Ten Questions: With Steve DeBruyne

Feature April 08, 2020

PINCKNEY, Mich.–Steve DeBruyne is sometimes called “The hardest working man in show business.” Okay….we at Encore call him that.

He will just as often say that title goes to his business partner, Matt Tomich, and that speaks to the relationship the two have, and why their cast members love working at The Dio.

Steve DeBruyne (right) as Quasimodo.

Steve can be found at The Dio directing and playing a lead role in the show, serving as emcee of course, waiting tables, producing…and in summer he often works at The Henry Ford performing Gershwin by day.

Steve and Matt founded the Dio Dining + Entertainment here, a town that had no live theatre. They first tried to open in elsewhere, but that city made it difficult. The city should be regretful that they missed out on what has become a hub of artistic endeavor. So, off to Pinckney they went. The city is sure glad they did, as is all of Livingston County. The theatre, which features a buffet dinner for the cost of a ticket, is one of the gems of the community, and of the state. It may be the only dinner theatre in the state producing real, high-quality, non-gimmicky theatre.

DeBruyne is a graduate of The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in NYC and has worked as an actor in regional theaters from Colorado to Michigan. He played the role of Malcolm in The Broadway National Tour of The Full Monty for two years and a total of 433 performances.

He is a two-time Wilde Award winner, once for his portrayal of Bobby in Company at The Encore Musical Theatre Company, and once for his portrayal of Quasimodo in The Dio’s production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. He also directed The Dio’s Wilde Award winning production of the musical Violet. Matt Tomich won a Wilde Award for his set design for Hunchback, and the two men won the The Jim Possante Wilde Award for Community Pride for what their theatre did for the city of Pinckney.

We asked Steve to answer our Ten Questions, the first eight of which are an homage to the late James Lipton, who asked the same questions of his guests. We added the last two.*

What is your favorite word? Probably “Team.” I use it a lot to describe the people who help us to make theatre happen.

What is your least favorite word? Okay, you didn’t say G-rated, so I’m going with the “c-word.” It’s just not a flattering word coming out of anyone’s mouth. It makes me cringe.

What turns you on? A great night of cast bonding at the local bar. Food and drinks with a new group of friends as rehearsal begins is one of my favorite things to do with the entire team of cast and creatives.

What turns you off? Cliques.

What is your favorite sound? I love the sound of hearing a full cast of voices singing together for the first time. We hear them solo, sometimes in small groups, at auditions, but nothing compares to the sound of all of them singing together at once. It’s a goosebumps moment.

What’s your least favorite sound? A ringing cell phone in the middle of a performance.

What is your favorite curse word? Oh, it’s gotta be the F-bomb. If there are ever kids in a cast, I usually end up apologizing for my language. Luckily, kids in theatre are usually completely unfazed.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Disney Imagineer!!!

What play would you want to do if told you had just one more play? Okay, I’ve got to go with a musical here, but it’s hard to choose a single show. I’m treating this as, if The Dio were closing shop, what show would be the last…it’s hard to choose just one…maybe revisiting The Drowsy Chaperone would be a good swan song. There’s no better love letter to theatre than The Drowsy Chaperone. I can certainly relate to “Man In Chair” who escapes into his favorite cast albums when he’s feeling “blue.” That might be the way to say goodbye.

What role remains on your bucket list? I’ve got to say The Phantom in The Phantom of The Opera. That show changed the course of my life when I went with my 7th grade class to see the show. I fell in love with musical theatre then and there. Bought the highlights album and would hide away in a quiet little corner at recess with my walkman and listen to it over and over again. It was the beginning of a life in theatre for me, even though it would be many years before I dared to step on stage. To play The Phantom, or any role in that show, would be a full circle moment in my life.

Week of 10/19/2020

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