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The Play’s The Thing: Journeyman Michael Wolf a big man with a big heart

“This December,” Michael Wolf proudly proclaims, “will mark my 33rd year in a mental institution.” And who can blame him for being proudi Thirty-three years is a long time for anything, especially on the same job, this one at the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens Village as the last surviving academic teacher in its Department of Client Education.

Unlike the residents of Creedmoor, Michael does get to go home every night to nearby Floral Park, where he lives with his wife, Carole Foley, a fifth-grade school teacher.

As rewarding as his work is, Michael’s real claim to fame is that he’s one of the most prominent and popular actors on the local theater scene. At one time a member of a couple of professional unions, including Actors’ Equity, he returned to the stage, after a long layoff, in 1992. The play was Neil Simon’s “California Suite,” presented by the now departed Village Players. Credit for that wise casting decision goes to producer/director Susan Emro — she was Susan Kemp then, until John Emro finally made his move.

Starting with that show, Michael has been in 38 productions to date with 15 different theatre companies, including (in Queens) the Colonial Players, Theatre Time Productions and the Parkside Players. He’s also been on a number of stages on the other side of the border, most recently at Broadhollow’s Elmont site under the direction of Laura Wallace-Rhodes.

But his main allegiance belongs to the Douglaston Community Theater, where he’s done 12 shows so far, and where he’s now in his second year as its president. DCT will soon reach its 60th consecutive year at the Zion Episcopal Church, an amazing record of longevity. They recently gave a farewell party for mainstays Ed and Martha (Marty) Dzioba, who are relocating to North Carolina.

It was at DCT where Michael took on his most challenging role — that of Arthur Kirk, a man with a dark secret, in “Nuts.” Challenging because he’s more often cast in comic roles, perhaps most notably (twice) as the frustrated seducer in “Last of the Red Hot Lovers.”

You can’t miss Michael, by the way — he’s a big man with a big voice. Give him a call some time just to hear some deep sultry tones — perhaps he’ll do some Barry White for you.

The ladies, in particular, appreciate Michael — although he’s quick to say that “marriage to Carole is the best thing that ever happened to me” — because he’s a nice guy who will go out of his way for you and always has a kind word for everyone. Two women whom he singles out for praise go back a long way with him: Linda Hanson and Annette Daiell, both DCT colleagues.

Michael has two master’s degrees from Queens College and has a good knowledge of American history. He probably knows, but didn’t say, that the Declaration of Independence was held up by the New York delegation’s long wait for the state legislature to act and do the right thing. That was 1776, folks, and for 233 years we’re still waiting!

He’s also an avid boxing fan and has an extensive video collection of old TV shows, like “St. Elsewhere” and “Hill Street Blues.”

“I don’t really get to watch them, but it’s good to know I have them,” he says. (My family, please take note: I’m not the only one who collects a lot of stuff I never look at.)

Contact Ron Hellman at RBH24@Columbia.edu.

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