Artistic director/co-founder of The Gift Theatre Company, Thornton recently directed John Conroy’s My Kind of Town for Steppenwolf’s First Look Festival as well as Of Mice and Men at Steppenwolf. In addition to his numerous directing credits with The Gift, he has directed We’ve Got Our Own Problems, Natural Gas, Best of Second City Directors’ Showcase at Second City, Picasso At The Lapin Agile (Noble Fool), and Julius Caesar (Crew Of Patches), among others. Thornton was an assistant director of Steppenwolf’s Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning August: Osage County.
A Jeff Award-winning actor, Thornton most recently appeared in Natural Gas, The Ruby Sunrise, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (The Gift), Museum Pieces (Second City), Messing With A Friend (with Susan Messing), and Steppenwolf’s The Elephant Man. Michael is a graduate of The School at Steppenwolf, The Conservatory Program and Directing Program at Second City, has trained in improv at iO and Annoyance and teaches at Second City, Columbia College, and The School at Steppenwolf. As a playwright, Thornton’s play, The Princess and the Bear, was published in excerpt by Third Coast Press and is being workshopped through a grant from The Second City Foundation.
Michael has received numerous awards including: Chicago Finalist: National Shakespeare Contest (Mitzi-Newhouse Theatre at Lincoln Center, New York), Northlight’s Jack Springer Award for Outstanding Performance, The Second City Foundation’s 2009 Jim Zulevic Chicago Arts Award, The 2009 3Arts Artist Award, and The Joseph Jefferson Award for Solo Performance.
Thornton currently plays Dr. Gabriel Fife on ABC’s "Private Practice."