–Michael H Arve –
06/27/1944 – 03/21/2022
Michael H Arve, Actor, Producer, Artistic Director, Teacher, and most notably, at least to us, Story Teller has left the stage and passed peacefully while listening to one of his favorite composers, Stephen Sondheim on March 21, 2022. Albeit Michael, or Gabi as he was known by family, was more like a “big fish” story teller at times. Facts mixed with his unique sense of humor and flair for the theatrical were spun as he would share stories of family history, his life’s encounters and his personal experiences.
Michael’s story began on June 27,1944 and by the age of 4 knew he was destined for the stage, as he often commented when nostalgically looking back at old photographs of himself. Michael was born in Hungary near the end of the WWII, his parents both survivors to WWI and WWII. He often reflected on their strong character and being able to keep their family together in such difficult times, all of which I’m sure helped mold his own character; charming with a bit of a gruff edge and wonderful sense of humor and a strong sense of pride in
his family’s heritage. Michael’s parents and he and his brother fled Hungary to Berlin Germany shortly after Michael was born. They fled not by train, but by bicycle where he rode hidden in a basket on the front of his brother’s bicycle. He spent his early childhood in Berlin and then immigrated to Rochester NY in 1951. Michael became involved in the professional and community theater in his early teens. He also spent a few years in Knoxville Tennessee where he wrote and released his book “The Hiding Wall”. While in Knoxville, he was actively involved in both theatre, and the community where he was an HIV/AIDS prevention educator in the Rainbow Theatre Program. Michael returned to Rochester and remained passionately involved in the Rochester community and theater as actor, director and teacher.
Michael will be remembered by his friends as being a strong-willed individual, one who liked to live life on his own terms who was impassioned, and an all-around gentle human being. Friends like Rebecca Solomon, Diane Chevron, Kevin Indovino, Doug Rice, John Borek and Vicki Casarett are among the many friends that were a very significant part of Michael’s life. Barbara Porreca and her son Gracen, starred in Michael’s production of “Beyond the Rainbows”. They were like family to him, and him to they. Gracen will always hold a special place in his heart as Gracen was the closest to a son Michael ever had. In the
theater community, there are just too many to list.
When writing the final chapter, one has to give mention to at least some of his many achievements that Michael was so very proud of: His Masque Dinner Theatre, which at that time was one of the first of its kind in the country. His involvement with MuCCC as Artist in Residence for numerous years, and Oasis as an instructor and his direction of “Judgement at Nuremburg” with Peter Doyle, which was what Michael called his most satisfying theater work. At Cobblestone Art Center as Artistic Director he produced “Belle of Amherst” which gained State, Regional, National and International Awards and acclaim. The list could go on! We all are so very proud of his life’s accomplishments, and so very thankful to have been a part of his legacy.
What was Michael best known or remembered for? That would depend on whom you were asking. Michael’s story had many different chapters; some were about family, others about his closest friends and others from the theatrical community around which so much of his life revolved. Michael had family in Toronto, Italy and the United States, but was closest to his late cousin
Gyorgyi. Gyorgyi’s family immigrated to Toronto. Michael enjoyed visiting Gyorgyi and her family so much that a 3-day visit once turned into a 6-month visit! Gyorgyi was as near and dear to him as a sister and perhaps what help cement their relationship was their mutual love for the stage. Gyorgyi grew up on stage in The National Ballet of Hungary. Michael’s travels to Europe to visit family were epic! He got lost in Rome and was later found in a circle of about 15 Americans, who all just so happened to frequent The Cobblestone Theatre in NY. While in Venice, he naturally booked a ticket at the Venice Film Festival,
and told the ticket agent, “I’m Michael, American Actor.” They accidentally booked him in the VIP section and he was seated between Michael Caine and Michael York much to his delight!
Michael is survived by his nieces and nephews in Connecticut, Alabama and New Jersey, and cousins in Toronto and Italy. If you didn’t know my Uncle Michael H Arve, google him! I’m sure you’ll be delighted! A good author will give the audience a glimpse and give them hope as The Author of life has. Until we meet again Michael, “Good Night Sweet Prince!”
A memorial/celebration of life is planned in the not-too-distant future, which is to say, as soon as we “get our act together,” to honor and celebrate Michael’s life. We’ll keep you all informed!
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