With a resume that includes starting a theatre company, acting in a theatre company, and going to college to study theatre, Mike Mazzaocca is a local thespian with a real love of performance. Originally from Ohio, Mike recently landed in Chicago where he became involved with a number of threatre companies both behind the scenes and in front of enthusiastic audiences.
His most recent show, Jesus Camp: The Musical, just ended a successful run at their Northcenter’s storefront theatre space, The Cornservatory, 4210 N. Lincoln Ave., and received glowing reviews for its original music and satirical slant. Due to the show’s huge success, in the next month the cast will be tweaking the script, adding new songs and making it, according to Mike, “… smooth like butter for a remount in September!” Keep your eyes open for this talented young performer out of Northcenter.
1. Congratulations on such a well-received show, Jesus Camp! Do you think that Northcenter is generally a neighborhood that supports the arts, and why or why not?
In general, I think that part of the success of Jesus Camp: The Musical was based on its location. Northcenter is full of progressive artsy types. For example, Red Eyes Cafe right next to the Cornservatory on Lincoln and Berteau has live music every week, and I love banjo nights at The Lincoln! The Cornservatory is unique to me because it’s the only hole-in-the-wall theater in the neighborhood (as far as I’m aware) and they do a great job of slaking the hood’s thirst for irreverent comedy.
2. Where are you from and how did you end up in Chicago?
I’m originally from Athens, Ohio. I moved to Pittsburgh, PA to go to a small arts conservatory to study acting and lived there for 5 years. In September 2010 I moved to Chicago to help my sister and some friends start The Black Ship Company, which is based in the Bucktown area. (Enter shameless plug here: Check us out at www.blackshipco.org) By day, I’m the assistant producer of Firehouse Studios in Edgewater, a humble barista on the weekends at the Bucktown Beanery, and spend my nights singing and dancing at the Cornservatory.
My favorite place to hang out in Northcenter is Red Eyes Cafe. It’s close to the theater, privately-owned, low key, and comfortable. And they have live music some days!
4. What would you change, if anything, about the Northcenter area?
I suppose if I were going to change one thing about Northcenter, it would be the fact that there’s no really good public transit. The Damen 50 doesn’t run all night, and there are no trains within comfortable walking distance, so I’ll sometimes find myself walking all the way to Western to catch a bus to go home. But public transits is for fools. Ride your bike!
5. What’s the goofiest, wackiest, or weirdest thing you have seen in the neighborhood this summer?
Some of the craziest stuff I’ve seen in Northcenter has happened withing the confines of the Cornservatory. I would tell you, but what happens at the Cornservatory stays at the Cornservatory. You may just have to stop by and catch a show!