Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Spotlight On...Sam Simahk

Name: Sam Simahk

Hometown: Ashburnham, MA

Education: BFA Musical Theatre, Emerson College

Select Credits: Lyric Opera Chicago (The King and I), Huntington Theatre Company (A Little Night Music), Speakeasy Stage Company (Big Fish), Lyric Stage Company of Boston (Into the Woods, Sweeney Todd, Sondheim on Sondheim, Spelling Bee)

Why theater?: I love storytelling, and I think that theatre's the best medium for an actor to move through a story--you start at the beginning and finish at the end, which doesn't happen when putting something on film.  And you can't beat the connection between performer and audience.  There's an energy you draw from the audience, whether they're laughing, crying, or sitting in silent attention; it all helps provide purpose to the action onstage.

Who do you play in Icon?: I play Alvaro Vigna, Princess Constance's music tutor and lover.  He's passionate and fun-loving, but serious about his music and his desire to earn his place in the world.

Tell us about Icon: Icon is the story of Princess Constance of Centoluci, a fictional country in central Europe.  The daughter of a wealthy American tycoon, she marries into the royal family of Centoluci, so that the economically-strained royals can take advantage of her family's money.  Trying to prove her worth, and having been named the patron of the symphony, she decides to take music lessons.  She meets Alvaro, who teaches her not only about music, but also how to follow her own dreams, instead of simply repeating what others have told her to say.  I'd say more, but I don't want to spoil anything...

What is it like being a part of Icon?: It's always fun to work on new material, and this is no exception.  The music is beautiful, the cast is brilliantly talented, and our director, Paul Stancato, makes sure that we're not only telling the story to the best of our ability, but also that we're having a good time.  So it's a constantly fun, collaborative environment, and you can feel that energy when you walk into the rehearsal room.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I'm a big fan of no-frills, pyrotechnic-free, drama-based theatre.  I love musical theatre, and think there's a delicate line between underwhelming and overly spectacular--but if a production is able to toe that line, it's always something special.  The people who inspire me most are the actors who approach musical theatre from an acting standpoint; Raúl Esparza is pretty incredible.  I saw him in a bathroom once and couldn't help but geek out for a second.  Sorry, Raúl.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: I'd love to play Sweeney Todd, but that's at least another decade down the road (so I'm just biding my time).  Bobby in Company and the Baker in Into the Woods are a little closer...I guess I just want to play every Sondheim character that I haven't yet aged out of.  The non-Sondheim dream roles are Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls and Billy Bigelow in Carousel--both are really cool roles in classic shows, and I'd love to try my hand at them.

What’s your favorite showtune?: Oh man, hard one.  Okay, I really like "Now You Know" from Merrily We Roll Along.  Also, "Not While I'm Around" from Sweeney Todd.  Then there's "Soliloquy" from Carousel, which is one of the greatest musical theatre songs of all time.  I don't know if I actually have a favorite--there are too many to choose one.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: President Obama. I'm pitching my two-man stage version of Thelma and Louise, but he hasn't written back yet.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself, and what would it be called?: I'd go with John Cho, but Hollywood would probably go with somebody less ethnic and claim that it's in the interest of recouping at the box office and appealing to foreign markets.  So...Joseph Gordon Levitt?  I'd want it to be called something like "Simahk: The Boy Who Became a Boy", or "Who Ate the Last Eggo Waffles? (I Was Saving Those for an Ice Cream Sandwich.)"

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: I'd probably see Hamilton, back when it was at the Public and you could still get tickets.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: When it was still on Broadway, I recommended Hand to God to everybody I knew--my parents ended up coming down from Massachusetts just to see it (and maybe to visit me, as well).  That play was so funny, and the cast was incredible. I'll also always recommend "Breaking Bad" to anybody who hasn't seen it in its entirety--it's a perfect piece of drama.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Late night chopped cheeses.  For those who don't live in Harlem, a chopped cheese is a cheeseburger that's been chopped on the grill and served on a hero (the pizza places back home would call it a cheeseburger sub, but "chopped cheese" is so much more satisfying to say).  I got one yesterday--with onions and jalapeños chopped with the patty, topped with lettuce, tomato, pickles, ketchup, and mayo.  I highly suggest giving that combo a try.

What’s up next?: I'm very excited for the next project!  I'll be singing in the ensemble for a site-specific concert of select songs from Ragtime, taking place on Ellis Island at the beginning of August.

For more on Icon, visit nymf.org