Max Roll singing in the QC production of Mozart's opera, The Magic Flute
In his years at QC, Max Roll ’10 has appeared in more than a dozen plays and operas, including Our Town, The Playboy of the Western World, and The Marriage of Figaro. Now he’s taking his act to New Haven, Connecticut. After a series of auditions in which nearly 1000 people competed for 16 slots, he won admission to the Yale School of Drama with a full, three-year scholarship. “I owe everything to Claudia Feldstein,” says Roll, speaking of the Drama, Theatre, and Dance professor—and Yale alumna—who coached him. “I couldn’t have done it without her support and preparation. I’m also very grateful to Charles Repole and Susan Einhorn for their support and guidance over the years.”
The English-born drama major had a different performing career in mind when he arrived at QC in 2004. “I initially came here to study with a fabulous American clarinetist, Charles Neidich,” says Roll, the son of two concert pianists. “I’d done a couple of small school shows in the United Kingdom, but up until a few years ago, it was clear I was going to be a musician.” He reconsidered that plan after Drama, Theatre and Dance chair Charles Repole urged him to explore the stage. “Max was in the hallway, talking in his British accent,” recalls Repole. “He was tall, good-looking, and spoke beautifully—he was a leading man. So I grabbed him and asked if he was interested in acting. It’s been a joy to watch him grow and to support him.”
A small role as an American salesman in Pajama Game led Roll to bigger theatrical challenges and ultimately, a new career goal. “I derived a different kind of pleasure from acting,” he explains. “I became more involved and found myself taking auditions. Even being in a tech rehearsal for 10 hours was not tedious.” His musical background has not been wasted: Because singing skills are invaluable to an actor, he took voice lessons with Bruce Norris, co-director of QC’s Opera Studio, for two years. Roll still plays clarinet for fun and profit, accepting the occasional gig. “A lot of training went into it and I don’t want to lose it,” he says.
Favorite music: Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert
Favorite books: Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet, and Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, “which gave me grounding when a lot of practical things were not going swimmingly.”
Surprising fact: “I’m rather shy, which goes in complete contrast to the risks I want to take on stage.”