“It’s a dream to be performing at home again,” says Tiverton native John Michael Dias. “I grew up watching all the big shows coming through PPAC and it’s really an honor to be performing on that stage for the fourth time.”
Dias is currently touring as part of the company for Beautiful: The Carole King Musical and has previously acted in Oklahoma and Jersey Boys, the first of which brought him to PPAC in 2004. In Jersey Boys, Dias played the “dream role” of Frankie Valli, touring across the U.S. as part of the original Chicago company and on Broadway.
Dias began acting young at community theaters in RI, and this inspired him to attend college at the Boston Conservatory. Looking back on his early days on the stage, Dias credits his love of acting to his start at the Little Theatre of Fall River. As a teen, he played in Stop the World – I Want to Get Off and The Secret Garden, productions that he remembers fondly for their emotional impact. “It was the first time I was part of a production where you could see everyone crying in the audience and on stage,” he says. “It was the first time I realized that theater wasn’t just production, numbers and glitter… it can move people.”
“My time there definitely shaped the performer I am today and helped me decide to do theater as a career,” he says. Other aspects of theater also guided his choice: acting, for Dias, was a place of acceptance, where you could have fun and become new people through characters. “Theater is an escape,” he notes. “Not only for the people watching but for the people on stage, and I find that
Now, Dias returns to PPAC to take viewers to the ‘70s and play many different characters. His roles include Neil Sedaka, Lou Adler, Bobby Hatfield, and others, each of which forces him to change wigs and personalities throughout the show. If he succeeds, he hopes audiences won’t be able to recognize him. Aside from the characters, Dias really enjoys the music of Beautiful. “One of the best parts is getting to sing “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” every night,” he says. “And, of course, the audience’s reactions to all the song performances.”
More than anything, Dias is excited for audiences to learn new things about Carole King. “They’ll see how she blossoms from a teenaged songwriter with big dreams in Brooklyn to a household name with the Tapestry album,” he says. He also thinks the show is extremely relevant right now. “I think her story was always an important one to tell, but right now it’s especially important to tell a story about a strong woman in a man’s world.”
Audiences can see Beautiful at PPAC through March 4.