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Recommendations

JOHN KANDER: For the better part of a year I worked closely with Michael Unger in his capacity as assistant director of Steel Pier. I felt at that time that he was extraordinarily bright and talented. His organizational skill and ability to work with people, coupled with his imagination and sensitivity, pointed clearly, I suspected, to an important career as a director in his own right. Then, some months later, I saw a production of a Marivaux comedy that he had directed and was delighted to have my suspicions confirmed. It was funny, touching and extremely inventive without being “show-offish.” It is exciting, in a profession that is filled with fakes, to come across a director so solidly grounded yet filled with imagination. I’m sure he’s headed for a bright future. Michael is the real thing.

MIKE OCKRENT: Michael worked with me for a period of three years: first, on King David (Disney), then on A Christmas Carol (Madison Square Garden ’96 and ‘97). He is an incredibly able, smart and clever man. He is full of energy, ideas and zest. All his ideas for improving text, clarification of narrative, stage movement, etc., have been smart and inventive. I recently saw his Off-Broadway production, Retribution. This was a difficult play – well directed and conceived by Michael. He clearly has visual flair as well as a good sense of structure. So I unhesitatingly recommend him as a director. I’d welcome the competition!!

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A convincing ‘Christmas Carol’

‘Tis the season to be sentimental. And there’s no better way to bask in the holiday mood than to see Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” at the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton.Once again, the annual production is warmer than a thick-logged fireplace in a happy home.…excellent special effects..sensitive direction… spirited choreography. It’s Rob Ashford’s third time with the show and Unger’s sixth, but neither are remotely stale.One of the best aspects of “A Christmas Carol” is the dozen or so children that dot its cast – hard-working kids who aren’t remotely interested in being cute, but are intent on giving sincere performances. As for Tiny Tim, he’s most endearingly played – God bless him for the way he says, “God bless us, everyone!” Parents should certainly bring their children — and themselves — to see “A Christmas Carol” for the entertainment, the spectacle, and the message.
‘A Christmas Carol’

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Bio

Directing credits include: A Christmas Carol (McCarter Theatre – annual production designed by Ming Cho Lee with choreography by Rob Ashford), Retribution (Off-Broadway, Lambs Theatre), Noises Off (New Harmony), Meet Me In St. Louis (The MUNY), Triumph of Love and School For Wives (The Weston Playhouse), Changes of Heart (Barrington Stage – BRAVO Award), In Perpetuity Throughout the Universe (Juilliard), Crimes of the Heart (Blowing Rock Stage), Still (World Premiere), Les Liaisons Dangereuses and The Game of Love and Chance (French language productions), Cries From the Mammal House (American Premiere), Cleavage and Smokes (Mark Taper Forum – NWF) and Taming of the Shrew (Complex Theatre, LA).

Recent credits include the world premiere musical, Caligula, which just finished a sellout run at the Theatre at St. Clements as part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival – which won the audience favorite award. He also recently directed the sellout world premiere of William Finn’s new musical, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Barrington Stage Company, Kiss Me Kate at The Depot Theatre and The McCarter Theatre’s A Christmas Carol. Michael is also helping develop new musicals based on the lives of John Dillinger and Charlie Chaplin.

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