Helen Hayes Winning Actor and USF Theatre Alumnus Michael Innocenti Reflects on 15 Years with Washington’s Keegan Theatre
Michael Innocenti (theatre arts, 2003) is a USF alumnus working as a director, designer, and actor at Keegan Theatre in Washington, D.C. He also works as a senior federal market research analyst for an IT company.
During his 15 years at Keegan Theatre, Innocenti has worked as a director, designer, and actor in over 50 productions.
Innocenti began working in theatre as a teenager, working professionally in D.C. as a lighting board operator, set constructor, stage manager, and master electrician. He also acted in shows at his high school. When he was ready to go to college, he sought out a school where he could pursue both his passions on stage.
“From an early time in my discovery of theatre, I was fascinated with both the performance and the production sides of the field … It was vitally important to me that when I went to college, I could go somewhere that allowed me to continue to peruse both,” said Innocenti.
USF was one of the only schools to tell him that he could pursue both theatre performance and production. Innocenti earned his bachelor’s degree in theatre arts in 2003.
Early in his career, he discovered Keegan Theatre, where he felt welcomed by the generosity of the theatre staff. They gave him a place to stay and the stability he needed to continue living a rich artistic career. Today, Innocenti continues this legacy of support by giving back to young actors who are just beginning their careers with Keegan Theatre.
After finding his artistic home at Keegan, the theatre continued to influence and nurture his life for years to come. It was there that he met his wife, Christina. They married on Keegan’s newly renovated stage in 2015. He has lived all major events of his life through Keegan, and the theatre makes concerted effort to nurture its players.
“You are truly cared for, and a well of never-ending generosity is shown to you time and time again,” said Innocenti.
Innocenti was awarded the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical in 2018 for his work in the Keegan production of Parade by Alfred Uhry and Jason Robert Brown. The Helen Hayes Awards, established in 1983, recognize outstanding work among the 90 theatres of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.
In 2019, Innocenti was nominated again for a Helen Hayes for his performance in the Keegan Theatre production of Chicago.
When he is not working on productions with Keegan, Innocenti works as a senior federal market research analyst for a large IT technology systems integrator for federal agencies. He is involved with finding contracts for the company and research ways for his company to win contract bids.
Even in a corporate environment, he is able to apply the same skills he developed during his time as a USF theatre student.
“To be successful in that field … theater education is perhaps the best training one can have for most paths in life,” said Innocenti. “Time management, working in a group, the ability to improv or think on your feet when problems arise, passion to see a project through its completion, leadership and many other aspects are all part of the theater training that USF taught me.”
He also learned to treat every job interview as an audition, leveraging the effective communication skills he developed as a USF theatre student to tell his own story to employers.
He continues to apply these skills as they are recognized and valued by his employer.
“In fact, once my company found out I was an actor,” said Innocenti. “I was asked to create a communication course for our executive leadership and employees to further their ability to communicate with current and prospective clients.”
As he remembers his time as a student at the USF College of The Arts, he looks back on his early faculty mentors with respect, fondness, and appreciation.
“College should be about finding what you aspire to be and letting you choose that path instead of defining it for you,” said Innocenti. “USF did that for me.”