Michael Lomenda is the kind of gentleman who treats people to lunch, even strangers. And that's exactly what he did for us when we visited his home in Los Angeles in the midst of his "Jersey Boys" movie promotions. Lucky for us, we also got to talk to him (while exploring everything he owns).
What's a typical day in the life like for you? What is your routine like?
I don’t remember! I’ve been living out of a suitcase for almost three years now, so I haven’t really had a “typical” day in a while. I’ve been touring on the road performing in the stage production of "Jersey Boys," living in a hotel while we shot the Jersey Boys movie here in LA, and then packing my entire Toronto apartment up to ship down to my new LA pad. Honestly, up until a couple days before you guys came to visit, I was still sleeping on an air mattress and my place was entirely in boxes. So, now that my stuff is (mostly) unpacked, I can actually carve out my new LA routine. I imagine my perfect LA day to start with an omelet, PBJ toast, and coffee in my new kitchen, then I’d get out into the sun and go for a hike and/or hit the gym, probably do some work or an audition in there, then dinner and a movie with friends followed by drinks on a patio somewhere.
Talk to us about your space, your home, your humble abode. How is it decorated? What's unique about your apartment?
I always admire people who’s homes reflect who they are and where their lives have taken them. I really try to make my place a constantly evolving environment reflective of my life. Most of the things I own have a story. Furniture with a history, pictures up of family and friends or past shows, lots of plants, vintage mixed with new stuff; warm, comfortable, and inviting is how I like my place to feel. I was looking for a new place on foot, saw this building and a sign saying they were renting, so I called. I really dug the vintage exterior of the building but didn’t have much hope for the apartments. The little kid Lomenda in me has always wanted to live in a tree house - I wished I was an Ewok when I was younger - and this place had so many windows, natural light and greenery outside, it was a no-brainer.
What's your most treasured item?
Ah... that’s a tough one. I’m kind of a sentimentalist so I have a lot of things that hold a lot of meaning for me. I have an ebony carved figure of a Welsh miner from a close friend who passed away from cancer. I have four halves of different hundred dollar bills framed on my wall that I’ve given to my "Jersey Boys" brethren as “claim cheques” should they ever need help from a brother; the idea being that in the future when we’re old we can tape ‘em back together and go to Vegas or something. I have some framed photo booth shots of all four of us Lomendas crammed into a tiny mall photo both in the 90’s. But I’d say the most valuable thing to me is my Dad’s St. Christopher’s medallion, ironically stolen from him by me when I was a younger. I wear it every day. They even let me wear it in the "Jersey Boys" movie.
And talk to us about how YOU dress? Not the way your stylist would dress you. How would you describe YOUR style?
I’d say I’m a pretty classic casual. I look to style icons like Paul Newman, James Dean, or Steve McQueen and contemporary guys like George Clooney, Adam Levine, or Ryan Gosling for clean classic daily standards in my wardrobe. When heading out for drinks or to a show, I like to look put together. I think that’s a hold over from performing "Jersey Boys" on stage... when you’re privileged to get to pretend to be a rock star every night and wear such killer clothes while doing so, it makes you want to dial up your off-stage personal style a bit. And, of course, Janie Bryant and great shows like "Mad Men" have dramatically influenced men’s fashion making me wanna channel my inner dapper Draper Guys are loosening up about it, but I think men can still be intimidated by clothes. I think men’s style is a chance to be individual and have some fun; I try not to take my style too seriously otherwise my clothes wear me.
What do you do on your downtime? How do you just kick back and relax?
It’s crazy, because I’ve been so transient over the past years, certain “life” things have fallen by the wayside. Now that I’m planted, I can’t wait to get to the beach, go hiking, play some tennis, get a dog, learn how to surf. And now that the dust has settled a bit, I’m feel super creative. I have some ideas for some visual art I can’t wait to dive into. I’m batting around some ideas for a comedy series, cop procedural, and feature film that I’m eager to get on paper. I’m keeping my eyes peeled for a new guitar teacher and working on a concert series - it’s been over a year since I was singing daily and I miss it. I’m also an art gallery guy, foodie, travel buff, environmentalist, and sometime gardner. Ultimately I’m just super excited to get out and fall in love with LA.
Talk to us about singing and jamming. You play guitar...? What song can you play? And what's your go-to karaoke song? If any.
I’m allergic to karaoke. It makes my knees shaky and my palms sweat. But if I wasn’t, I’d probably sing a downer ballad like U2’s, With or Without You. As for guitar, I’m just learning, so anything is game really... I seem to gravitate toward more melodic stuff versus the rhythmic stuff - I grew up playing classical piano so, although I have good rhythm, playing an instrument rhythmically is a challenge for me. I’m trying to learn Joni Mitchell’s Case of You, then I’ll move on to some Dave Matthews, Damien Rice, James Taylor... I’d love to get good enough to gig with a band - it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.
If you're like us, you probably read the news (non-tabloids) constantly. Is there a news event that you've been just obsessed with following?
Well, I have my daily routine of scanning my news outlets in the morning before I get out of bed - but since I’m new to LA, most of them are still Toronto based! Our buffoon Mayor, Rob Ford, just got out rehab today apparently. About the only thing good about that is that he wasn’t around to potentially sabotage the awesome time everyone in Toronto seems to be having at the massive World Pride celebration last week. I consider myself to be environmentally conscious and a bit of a weather geek - think I was a storm chaser in a past life - so I’m simultaneously freaked out and in awe of the extreme weather we’re seeing nowadays due to global warming. I’m excited to see two Canucks doing so well at Wimbledon. Globally speaking, I try to keep on top of things as best I can. Some days I feel pretty decent about the state of the world and other days when I read about those kidnappings in Nigeria, the Venezuelan rioting, or Russia’s latest strong-arm advancements, it makes me want to drop everything and become a superhero for global peace and unity. I’m hoping that with my new career shift, it will give me some more time to devote to some important causes I feel really passionately about.
Your movie is a huge hit so far. What's next for you? What's next on your bucket list? More musicals?
I really dig the resurgence of the big Hollywood musical; I definitely would love to be part of another “musical” project. I think the massive success of the live-to-air “Sound of Music” shows that there is clearly an audience for that kind of unique live Hollywood musical event which is cool too. I also really love the courageous journey T.V. is taking these days - there’s such exciting stuff out there to watch and the episodic format makes for some incredibly complex meaty character arcs. Films and their directors are getting more courageous too. Game changing films like “Gravity” and even legendary icon, Clint Eastwood challenging himself with his first “musical” - I really feel like it’s an exciting time for me to be diving in to this scene. I’d love to play a superhero, work on a new groundbreaking T.V. series, write, produce, and direct some of my own material, and, ultimately, be part of stuff that moves and challenges people. I’m pumped to explore the LA scene and all of its endless creative avenues.
Anyone you're dying to meet or work with?
I have some Canadian connections I need to bring full circle: Gosling once came to see his sister, Mandi, performing in a show we were performing in together. Afterward we all went out to karaoke and he sang, “My Way”. I, of course, didn’t sing. So, I’m thinking if we work together on something, we might end up karaokeing one night and I’ll finally get over my stage fright. I also have a wickedly awesome picture of the stunning, Tricia Helfer, and geektastic me at an awards ceremony in the 90s we both attended in my hometown; I think I’m wearing Hammer pants, a silk shirt and a paisley bomber jacket. I think it would be cool to connect with her at some point, laugh at that pic, and high five about coming from our tiny rural neighboring towns.
And who's the one person who has inspired your journey and help keep you on the right path with the right mindset?
I’ve been lucky to have a bunch, but my Dad is the main one. My personal manifesto is basically summed up by this Rudyard Kipling poem I love called “If” and I feel like whenever I read it to myself, it’s my Dad’s voice I hear in my head.
Photography // Ben Sasso
Photography Assistant // Ryan Longnecker
Groomer // Cat White
Stylist // Elizabeth Watson