June Is Bustin' Out All Over!!
HOME FOR COMPANY!
In May and June 2012, for the first time since I began my acting career, I got to work in my hometown of Rochester, New York, at the wonderful Geva Theatre Center. And I was "at home" in another way - the show I did was Stephen Sondheim's Company, the show that brought me my Broadway debut five and a half years before. I had been wanting to come to Rochester and work at Geva ever since I started acting, and to be able to do that, in a show that means so much to me, was a real treat. And of course, Mom was thrilled (Hi Mom!)
This production was very different from our show in New York. Notably, the cast was not playing instruments in this one as we did in the John Doyle-directed Broadway revival - here we had an awesome nine piece band playing new orchestrations by our music director, Don Kot. We also had the unique vision of Geva's Artistic Director Mark Cuddy who helmed this production.
The other big difference for me was that I got to play a different role! In New York, I played the patient Larry, husband to the acerbic Joanne. Here, I played affable (and on-the-wagon) Harry, husband to the competitive (and diet-challenged) Sarah, played by the wonderful Michele Ragusa (Young Frankenstein, Urinetown). The remarkable cast of Broadway vets also included Jim Poulos (Rent) as Bobby, Anne Allgood (Beauty and the Beast) as Joanne, Bobby Daye (The Book of Mormon, Shrek), Nicolette Hart (Million Dollar Quartet, Rent), Leslie Henstock (The Light in the Piazza and Les Miz tours), Jessie Hooker (Legally Blonde tour), Kristen Mengelkoch (Forbidden Broadway), Ben Roseberry (Lion King tour), Emily Stockdale (NY Philharmonic's Company), Elisa Van Duyne (Finian's Rainbow, 110 in the Shade), Kevin Vortmann (A Little Night Music) and Jeff Williams (The Pirate Queen).
MORE SONDHEIM IN CINCINNATI!
In February 2012, I headed back to Ohio, with some of my favorite "good and crazy people". I played producer Joe Josephson (as well as my clarinet and saxaphone) in a revival of Stephen Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. The production was directed by John Doyle, who directed our Tony-winning revival of Company, just a few years earlier. Like Company (and Sweeney Todd) Merrily employed John's unique "actor/musician staging", where the cast is also the orchestra, playing the score from the stage.
The 2006 Company revival actually began at The Cincinnati Playhouse before it moved to Broadway, and Merrily featured many alums from that production including actor-musicians Matt Castle, Leenya Rideout and Fred Rose (plus Jane Pfitch and Jessica Taylor Wright who joined us in the New York cast), orchestrator Mary-Mitchell Campbell and costumer designer Ann Hould-Ward. We all can't wait to be working (and playing) together again on another great Sondheim piece in Cinci! The show runs March 3-31.
LOUISIANA IN DAYTON!
In October 2011, I travelled to Ohio to perform in the musical masterpiece Caroline, or Change at Dayton's wonderful Human Race Theatre. Caroline was written by Tony Kushner (Angels in America) with music by Jeanine Tesori (Violet, Thoroughly Modern Millie) and originally produced by The Public Theatre in New York, followed by a critically acclaimed run on Broadway in 2004, which garnered six Tony nominations. Caroline also won the Olivier Award in London in 2007.
The play is set in Lake Charles, Louisiana in 1963 on the cusp of the civil rights movement, and focuses on a black maid (Caroline) working for a middle class Jewish family. Kushner himself grew up in this very setting, and several characters are based on his upbringing, including a young boy, Noah Gellman (Kushner's proxy), and his musician father, Stuart (my role). Kushner's real father was in fact a clarinetist and later, conductor of the Lake Charles Symphony.
The basic story centers on Noah's carelessness with his pocket change and an agreement that gives Caroline permission to keep any money she finds in the laundry. But there is a much larger story surrounding this little family plot, where "change" has a whole different meaning. Tesori's score is absolutely magical, ranging from R&B and Motown to folk and Klezmir.
We had a great cast, featuring Tanesha Gary as Caroline. Tanesha played "the Radio" in the Broadway and L.A. productions starring Tonya Pinkins. Also in the cast were Taprena Augustine, Kay Bosse, Brittany Campbell, Saul Caplan, Dwelvan David, Kimberly Shay Hamby, Ashanti J'Aria, Malachi-Phree J. Pate, Brendan Plate, J. Miguel Conrado Rojas, K.L. Storer, Shawn Storms, Tonya Thompson and Yvette Williams.
A JAUNT TO EGYPT, OFF-BROADWAY!
In May 2011, I premiered in the new Off-Broadway musical, The Sphinx Winx. The show is a wacky misinterpretation of the classic love triangle of Julius Caesar, Cleopatra and Marc Antony. I played the lovelorn Caesar, who apparently was quite the song-and-dance man! The show also featured Bret Shuford as Antony, Erika Amato as Cleopatra, as well as Rebecca Riker, Beth Cheryl Tarnow and Ryan Williams.
The show ran through mid-June at the Samuel Beckett Theatre at Theatre Row (42nd and Ninth Avenue). Our official opening night was May 18th, and we got some nice notices in the press, including The Associated Press, Theatermania and NYTheatre.com.
Personal historical note: Theatre Row, including the Samuel Beckett Theatre, is now a beautifully renovated Off-Broadway complex of five jewel-box theatres, but my long-time friends may remember that twelve years earlier, the moldy, dilapidated Samuel Beckett was home to my very first New York stage appearance in a musical called Lyz!, an update of the Lysistrata story, set in present-day Manhattan. Something about heroines of antiquity keeps bringing me back to the Beckett!
A QUICKIE, OFF-BROADWAY!
In March, 2011, I joined the cast the musical Hello Again. If you follow theatre in the city, you probably heard about the Transport Group's audacious Off-Broadway revival of this musical, by five-time Tony nominee Michael John LaChiusa, originally performed at Lincoln Center in 1994, and now staged in a sprawling Soho loft, directed by Jack Cummings III. The musical is based on the 19th century play LaRonde, by Arthur Schniztler, in which "A" has an affair with "B", then "B" has an affair with "C", then "C" with "D", "D" with "E", etc, until finally "J" has an affair with "A". An endless cycle of people grasping for fulfillment through pleasures of the flesh.
I took over the role of "the husband", originally played by Tony-nominee, Bob Stillman, who (lucky for me!) had another commitment for the last part of the run. The ridiculously talented "dectet" of Broadway vets also included:
- Alan Campbell (Sunset Boulevard, Tony nominee)
- Blake Daniel (Spring Awakening)
- Jonathan Hammond (Ragtime)
- Rachel Bay Jones (Women on the Verge, HAIR)
- Nikka Graff Lanzarone (Women on the Verge)
- Robert Lenzi (South Pacific)
- Alexandra Silber (West End's Women in White, Fiddler, Carousel)
- Elizabeth Stanley (Million Dollar Quartet, Cry-Baby, Company) and
- Max von Essen (Les Miz, Dance of the Vampires, JCS)
Though I jumped in in the middle, this show was one of the most satisfying theatrical ventures I've ever done. What an amazing piece and an amazing cast. When the 2011 awards season came in May, Hello Again was nominated for the Best Revival of a Musical Award by the Off-Broadway Alliance, the Drama League, the Outer Critics Circle and the Drama Desk.
GET IN THE DOME!
If you like sports and you like comedy, you probably love Sports Dome on Comedy Central. Created by those zany guys at The Onion, this show satirizes sports news shows, just as the Onion News Network skewers 24-hour cable news shows. Here is a segment I did on New York Knicks' "recruiting" from the Feb. 15th, 2011 episode.
AN EVERGREEN HOLIDAY!
In December 2010, I was honored to perform in a benefit concert of the holiday musical Evergreen, for the Prospect Theater Company. The show, written by Prospect's resident composer Pete Mills and artistic director Cara Reichel was originally produced a year earlier, and was now being re-created to benefit Prospect's ongoing producing of fantastic live theater in New York. I got to share the stage with a great cast, including Anita Vasan and my Company castmate, Angel Desai!
STEVE'S BIRTHDAY YEAR GOES ON!
With Stephen Sondheim turning 80, 2010 has been a year of celebration after celebration. One of the greatest is the Sondheim - Unplugged series at the Laurie Beechman Theatre on 42nd Street, where some of New York's popular theatre and cabaret stars performed their Sondheim favorites, accompanied by just a piano. On October 30th and December 3rd, I joined the party, singing some of my favorites, alongside Donna McKechnie and Steve Elmore (the original Company), Sarah Rice (Sweeney Todd) and my Company castmate, Leenya Rideout!
PLATINUM LIVES AGAIN AT FRINGENYC!
FringeNYC 2010 hosted a new production of the musical PLATINUM at the beautiful Lucille Lortel Theatre in August 2010.
This is an unusual show for the Fringe, in that Platinum is not actually a new musical. It was a Broadway flop in 1978! But a creative writer/director named Ben West has made it his mission to "repair" musicals that failed in their original form. In 2009, Ben took on the 1960s flop, How Now, Dow Jones, and garnered great reviews. This year, his "fixer-upper" is Platinum, and he's done a great job. The book has been largely rewritten, 13 characters have been pared down to five, and four songs were cut, being replaced be two new songs.
The show deals with the record industry in the mid-1970s, as disco came in, eclipsing the rock scene that had dominated before. The story brings together a forgotted Hollywood film legend trying to make her comeback, a rising disco queen, a struggling rock star trying to stay on top, a fledgeling song-writer trying to break through, and the record producer (played by yours truly) who pulls all their strings. The cast includes Broadway vets Donna Bullock (Ragtime), Sarah Litzinger (Beauty and the Beast), Jay Wilkison (Rent) and Wayne Wilcox (Coram Boy).
TITANIC SAILS AGAIN!
On June 21st, 2010, I was privileged to perform in a concert version of Maury Yeston's masterpiece, TITANIC: the musical, as a benefit for the New York Society of Ethical Culture. The concert featured many original cast members from the 1991 Tony-winning production, including Martin Moran, Michael Mulheren and Jennifer Piech. The cast was augmented with rising Broadway stars including Robert Petkoff, Jeffry Denman, Matthew Scott and Andrew Samonsky. I played 2nd class passenger Edgar Beane, opposite the wonderful Liz McConahay as Alice Beane. A terrific and moving night. Sail on!!
MOLIERE IN CROTON FALLS!
In May and June 2010, I performed in The Imaginary Invalid at the Schoolhouse Theater in Croton Falls, NY . This was my second appearance at this great jewel-box theatre (which is just 10 minutes from my house!), called "Westchester's sole claim to consistent professional theater" by The New York Times.
Moliere was the great-grandfather of slap-stick comedy, and Invalid was his last play, after a prolific career including The Jealous Husband, The Misanthrope, The Miser, Tartuffe and Scapin. Written in 1673, the play's plot is remarkably timely: it's about the tight-fisted hypochondriac, Argan, played by John Tyrrell (Broadway's The Miser and The Merchant), who is so obsessed with his "ailing health" and his soaring medical bills, that he will resort to drastic measures to solve his problem, in this case, by marrying off his unsuspecting daughter to a doctor! I play Argan's more sensible brother Beralde, who, hopefully, can foil Argan's plan.
Orchestrating the insanity is Argan's mischievous maid Toinette, played by the wonderful Allyce Beasley, star of the classic 80's sit-com/detective series, Moonlighting (remember? with Bruce Willis and Cybil Shepherd?). The cast also featured Broadway vets Neal Mayer (Les Miserables) and John Shuman (La Cage aux Folles), plus Sari Caine, Quinn Cassavale, Libby Conkle, Israel Gutierrez, and Billy Lyons. It was a great show with a great cast, directed by Pamela Moller Kareman, the Artistic Director of The Schoolhouse.
WHAT'S FOR DINNER?
In late April 2010, I performed in a short film called Bon Appetit (for now), a dream-like story about an odd dinner party, where the guest of honor may be surprised to find out what's on the menu. I play the welcoming host, Puck, who like his namesake, takes mischievous pleasure as he orchestrates the fate of others. Director Daniel Kavanagh set the film on location at the Heidelberg Restaurant, the classic 1936 beer garden on the upper east side. Appropriately celebratory (and creepy)!
SHAMA LAMA LAMA, DI-DIP DI-DIP
On April 15th, 2010, I performed in the first public reading of the new doo-wop musical, Now and Then, written by Matt Landers and Manny Moreira, and music directed by Zach Dietz (music director of In the Heights). In the show, members of two (fictional) popular doo-wop groups, one male, one female, are reunited for the prospect of being in a reality show about their heyday. Old loves and rivalries, and the changes that have affected everyone are mixed with great original songs in the classic doo-wop style to create an engaging show. Just waiting to see where we go from here!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, STEVE!
On March 15th and 16th 2010, I got to join many of my Company castmates along with dozens of other grateful Sondheim "alums" to sing the finale at the New York Philharmonic's Sondheim 80th Birthday Celebration at Avery Fisher Hall. Concluding a star-studded evening, featuring everyone you'd expect from Bernadette to Elaine, an ensemble of singers, whose resumes include just about every show Sondheim ever wrote, filled the stage and aisles of the packed hall, singing "Sunday", from Sunday in the Park with George. It was really thrilling. And good news: the event was recorded for a fall airing on PBS Great Performances!
AND ANOTHER BIG SCREEN PREMIER
On February 22nd 2010, the film Company Retreat had its premier public screening at the Jacob Burns Film Center. The packed house was joined by several cast members, including myself, as well as writer/director Campbell Scott. Campbell led a Q&A session after the screening. The audience seemed to really enjoy this oddball film about a white collar vs. blue collar competition TV show, hosted by a washed up sit-com star, who finds redemption in the woods, even as the cameras roll. Company Retreat will be making the festival circuit this season.
BIG SCREEN PREMIER
On November 20th 2009, I attending the first public screening of the film Betrayed, at Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theatre. I co-starred in this short film opposite Seth Gilliam, star of HBO's The Wire. I play a police detective interrogating a man (Gilliam) who appears to have murdered his wife (Cara Buono of The Sopranos) and his best friend (PJ Sosko). In addition to the interesting and twisted plot, the film is significant in that it was the first narrative film to be shot on Canon's new 5D Mark II, a high end "pro-sumer" digital SLR camera that also shoots Hi-def video. Our cinematographer, Pulitzer Prize-winner Vincent Laforet, is Canon's go-to guy when it comes to field testing new equipment, and Laforet set out to prove that the 5D MKII could indeed produce stunning cinematic images with great agility, at about one-eighth the cost of the most popular professional DV choice, Sony's "Red" camera. Writer/Director Josh Grossberg will be presenting Betrayed on the festival circuit later this season. Stay tuned!
ROCKIN' ON YOUR PLAYSTATION
On November 5th 2009, right after unpacking from Hilton Head, I booked a commercial for the new video game sensation, Rockband - Beatles Edition. I basically got to spend the day singing "Day Tripper" in my lovely pretend house with my lovely pretend family. Kind of like my real life, except there, the family - and the instruments - are real!
CABARET AT THE BEACH!
In September and October 2009, I headed to beautiful Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, to perform Cabaret, one of my favorite musicals, at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, under the direction of Russell Garrett. I played Herr Schultz, the romantic fruit shop owner (specializing in Italian oranges and pineapples). I've played this role before, and coincidentally, the last time I did, (at Forestburgh Playhouse), our "Sally Bowles" was the lovely and talented Laura Beth Wells, who also reprised that role here! Small world. Wilkommen! Margaret Evans of Low Country Weekly wrote:
"The show features a second love story that's absolutely irresistible - one of the most beautiful I've seen on any stage, ever - between landlady Fraulein Schneider and shopkeeper Herr Schultz. The accomplished actors inhabiting these roles (Sue Mathys and Bruce Sabath) are as good as musical theatre gets - their characters breaking our hearts, making us laugh, then breaking our hearts again. And their voices! Imposing and tender and everything in between. I really can't heap enough praise on this pair of deeply gifted performers."
THIS MUSICAL IS SICK!
In July 2009, I performed in a reading of another new musical called Plagued! or How to Escape Persecution At the Hands Of An Angry Mob. This "fractured fairy-tale" presents the contradictory stories of a romantic troubadour (Kurt Robbins) and a maniacal, plague-obsessed, Tom-Jones-channeling mayor (me) as they each explain why the death of the fair maiden they both love (the incredible Jen Blood), is not their fault. With book and lyrics by Daniel John Kelly and music by Nick Moore, this witty piece is definitely going places.
A LITTLE COMMERCE ALONG WITH ALL THIS
Even in these times of economic sluggishness, there are still commercials being done in New York. In mid-2009, I recorded voice-overs for Comcast, Amica Insurance and Presbyterian Hospital (of Dallas), and television commercials for Cablevision and Comcast/ESPN. That last one is pretty funny, and if you don't happen to live in a Comcast market, you can catch it here. Wait for the end...
DANCING INTO PROHIBITION ON HBO
On July 6th 2009, I performed as a dancing business tycoon in the pilot for the new HBO series Boardwalk Empire, directed by Martin Scorsese, and starring Steve Buscemi. The show follows the exploits of real and fictional gangsters in Atlantic City during Prohibition. The scene is an elaborate New Years Party just days before the start of Prohibition. Boardwalk Empire is scheduled to premiere in fall, 2010.
MY NEWS FROM PRISON
April 2009 marked the debut of a segment I shot for the Onion News Network the previous fall. If you don't know the Onion, you should! What started out 20 years ago as a satirical college newspaper, has evolved into one of the funniest places online. The Onion sends up the cable news networks with news segments that seem so real, you sometimes have to look twice. My segment deals with the underground prison economy. Enjoy it here(but send the kiddies out of the room first)!
THE START OF AN EPIC NEW MUSICAL
In April and May 2009, I performed in the first industry readings of the new musical, Wallenberg (book and lyrics by 2006 Kleban Award-winners Lawrence Holzman and Felicia Needleman, music by Benjamin Rosenbluth). Wallenberg tells the story of Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish businessman who came to Hungary during World War II, and through his position as a diplomat of a neutral country, was able to orchestrate a series of clever schemes that saved the lives of over 100,000 Jews. This moving piece showcases the amazing talents of Thom Christopher Warren (The Lion King) and Jill Paice (Curtains, 39 Steps). Our cast recorded a great demo CD, and the producers are currently preparing to mount a full workshop production of the show. For more info, visit Wallenberg the Musical.
NIXON WINTERS IN BOCA
Beginning on New Years Eve 2009, I was at The Caldwell Theatre in Boca Raton Florida playing Richard Nixon in the play Frost / Nixon through mid-February. If you saw it on Broadway the summer of '07, you know what a riveting piece this is. And the subject matter has never been more "in the public eye," with the release of the film (which I hear is great, but won't be seeing for awhile), and the publication of the original Frost/Nixon interviews on DVD. This was the Southeast regional premiere of Frost/Nixon, and just the third production of the play in the US, after the original Donmar Warehouse production (on Broadway and national tour), and a recent co-production by the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and Geva Theatre in Rochester. Audiences and critics voted in favor of the disgraced president. John Thomason of the Sun-Sentinel commented,
"Nixon is played by Bruce Sabath, and it's one of the best portrayals I've ever seen. This being a play of restraint, Sabath plays Dick with a lowkey, almost Jimmy Stewart-like Zen quality. Watching him combat the missiles launched at him a few feet away by Frost, it's clear his studying of Nixon's body language and mannerisims was exhaustive."
And Kevin D. Thompson of The Palm Beach Post wrote:
"Frost (Wynn Harmon) and Nixon (Bruce Sabath) have a palpable chemistry on stage. Sabath perfects Nixon's awkward body language by the time Harmon and Sabath are sitting across from one another as two men engaged in an extremely high stakes cat-and-mouse game, you won't be able to take your eyes off them."
JERUSALEM SYNDROME PREMIERES AND WINS
September 23rd thru October 5th, 2008, I performed in a new musical, The Jerusalem Syndrome, as part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival, NYMF ("the Sundance of musical theatre" - Timeout Magazine). Sounds intriguing, yes? Jerusalem Syndrome is an actual psychological condition where tourists in Israel are so overwhelmed that they temporarily hallucinate that they are biblical figures. Really! Google it! The show was conceived after one of the authors, Laurence Holzman met the doctor (my character) who heads the psych ward that treats scores of patients each year. Imagine the musical comedy potential! The show featured the talents of Broadway vets Liz Larsen (Hairspray, Rocky Horror), Stuart Zagnit (Seussical, The Wild Party) and Chandra Lee Schwartz (Hairspray, Gypsy), and "Grease: You're the one that I want" finalist, Austin Miller, as well as many others.
At the conclusion of the festival, The Jerusalem Syndrome won the Theatre for the American Musical Award, which came with a nice monetary prize to our amazing writing team, Laurence Holzman, Felicia Needleman and Kyle Rosen. Congrats, guys! It also meant that I got to perform the title number of the show at the NYMF Gala in November, honoring legendary producer Robyn Goodman. Other performers featured in the Gala included Stephanie D'Abruzzo (Avenue Q), the current and original casts of Alter Boyz (including Cheyanne Jackson), and my dear Raul Esparza (who, by the way, is amazing in the current Broadway production of Speed the Plow. See it!).
ANALYZE THIS LATE BLOOMER
How is it, that a person who's been doing one thing for his whole career suddenly stops and does something completely different? This question was tackled in the December 2008 issue of Psychology Today. And of course they had to talk to the poster-boy for career change, yours truly. The article features a nice profile of me, as well as a handful of other late-bloomers. You can find the issue at any news stand, or check it out here (you'll find my profile on page 75-76 of the magazine, or page 5-6 of the pdf).
IT'S RAINING TURKEYS
I recently did a rather funny Thanksgiving-related commercial for the grocery chain Food Lion, which you probably saw if you live anywhere between Pennsylvania and Florida. For the rest of you, thought you might like to have a look. Click here. Be sure to catch the out-takes at the end.
FILM DEBUTS AT JACOB BURNS FILM
The Strangest Bullet in my Skull, an independent feature film, in which I played a key role, had it's world premiere at the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville on September 25th, 2008. The film is a cerebral crime thriller that brings together three narrative strands and a host of characters including a beleaguered office drone, a treacherous stripper, a Russian mafioso, a fatalistic assassin, a cloned bodyguard, and a pair of married junkies - and they're all mixed up with a corporate scientist (that's me) whose calculations predict the future. The Strangest Bullet in My Skull, both action-packed and enigmatic, is equally inspired by yakuza gangster films, surrealist comedies, and philosophical science fiction.
BROADWAY IN THE CATSKILLS
In June and July '08, I was privileged to debut at the storied Forestburgh Playhouse, one of the oldest summer theatres in the country. Known by its fans as "The Miracle in the Forest," the Playhouse has been entertaining area theatre lovers since 1947! This summer I starred as Herbie in Gypsy as well as Herr Schultz in Cabaret, two roles which won Tony Awards in their most recent Broadway revivals (for Boyd Gaines and Ron Rifkin). No awards this time, but I did get some great reviews: Regarding Gypsy, Bill Moloney of The Monticello Towne Crier wrote:
"Bruce Sabath is a loveable Herbie, the reluctant agent who can only take so much. Mr. Sabath is great character actor with a soothing, easy-going voice to boot."
Regarding Cabaret, Moloney wrote:
"Bruce Sabath portrays the kindhearted elderly widower with such a beautifully gentle grace. His simple mannerisms, hesitations and subtle deliveries as this old man hoping for one more chance at love make the scenes between [Frauline Schneider] and him truly touching."
And Lori James of The Sullivan County Democrat wrote:
"Bruce Sabath is endearingly magnificent in the role of Herr Schultz. His warm-hearted rendering both musically and dramatically grants the audience a caring and sympathetic focal point for the storyline"
A BIT OF YONKERS IN CROTON FALLS
In May and early June '08, I was featured in Lost in Yonkers at the Schoolhouse Theater in Croton Falls, NY (just 10 minutes from my house!). This is Neil Simon's Pulitzer-winning masterpiece about a dysfunctional family during WWII (but unrelated to the "Brighton Beach" trilogy). I played Eddie, a widower who must leave his sons in the care of his hard-as-nails mother and his not-all-there sister. It was a great show with a great cast, directed by Pamela Moller Kareman, the Artistic Director of The Schoolhouse, who has helped make this jewel-box "Westchester's sole claim to consistent professional theater" (The New York Times). Anita Gates of The New York Times wrote:
"Bruce Sabath, who was so elegant in the 2006 Broadway revival of "Company," transforms himself into Eddie, the boys' loving but beleaguered (and anything but elegant) father. When everyone is complaining about what a blistering summer day it is, Eddie is the one who truly seems to be suffering from the heat. But then he's suffering in a lot of ways that day. "
I'M A PIRATE OF THE CARIBBEAN!
In March '08, I played a scurvey pirate on a new children's audiobook, "Captain Jack Sparrow's Secret Journal" based on Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean. In this project, my salty (but friendly) sea-farer sings and reads stories about the infamous Jack Sparrow, but in each case, the end of the story is missing. I encourage my young listeners to finish the tales in their workbook, using the included pens and stickers. Disney liked it so much, they've commissioned me to be their permanant pirate host for what will now be a series of audiobooks. Watch for it at your favorite bookstore (published by Studio Mouse).
COMPANY ENDS, BUT LIVES ON FOREVER
Just two days after winning the 2007 Tony for Best Revival of a Musical, it was announced that the show would close on July 1st. While we were sad that our amazing journey was coming to an end, we were soon thrilled to hear that the production would live on: An agreement was reached to record the show for PBS' Great Performance Series. Not only was the recording aired on PBS early in February, 2008, but it is now available on DVD for your permanent collection! The recording was done in Hi-Def digital video with ten cameras at two live performances during our final weekend at the Barrymore. What a great going away present. FOOTNOTE - In July '08, this production was honored with and Emmy nomination for our director, Lonny Price! Stay tuned for the Emmy Awards on September 21st to see how Lonny does! Fingers crossed!
THIS IS HOW TV WILL GET MADE IN THE FUTURE
In February '08, I went to Pennsylvania to shoot an episode for a new web series called "The All-For-Nots", which chronicles the efforts of an indy band to make it big. The show is being produced by Michael Eisner's independent studio, Vuguru. I guest star as the very square dad of a very grunge bass player. Episodes of the series have begun airing on the show's own site, theallfornots.com, as well as on YouTube. My episode, "Cleveland" can be seen here. And there is a special feature, "The Dad" that I know you'll like.
A PIECE OF THEATRE HISTORY
In December, 2007, I played Otto Frank in a staged reading of Anne Frank, a play by Meyer Levin, based on the famous diary. You've probably seen "The Diary of Anne Frank," by the well-known screenwriters Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett (The Thin Man, It's a Wonderful Life, Father of the Bride). That play first appeared on Broadway in 1955, won the Pulitzer Prize, and became one of the most produced plays in history. You probably didn't know that before that play was written, an earlier version had been written by Meyer Levin, a novelist who had been instrumental in getting the Anne Frank's diary published in the US.
Long story short, Levin's play, which attempted to be true to the diary, was rejected by potential producers as being over-Jewish and under-dramatic. They turned to Goodrich and Hackett who penned the now famous version of the play. Levin cried foul, law suits followed, and in the end, a settlement was reached. However the settlement prohibited Levin's version from ever being published or performed. Decades later, after many other versions of the diary have been dramatized, the original Levin version finally had the chance to be performed before an eager audience at The Medicine Show Theatre in New York, with the blessing of the Anne Frank Center, and the gratitude of Levin's children (Meyer Levine died in 1981). It was exciting to bring this historic piece of theatre to life.
MY FIRST BIG NATIONAL TV COMMERCIAL IS FOR
If you turned on your TV during the 2007 holiday season, you were likely to run into ... me! I was the happy dad getting an awesome present from my very thoughtful daughter (I always wanted a daughter!). Missed it? Watch the spot here, with your Windows Media Player, or Real Player. Other recent commercial projects have included a Quantas Airline spot (running in Australia) and voice-overs for Pipeline Financial, Nortel and Bella Casa (a new home décor store).
FOR CAMPBELL SCOTT, I'LL PUT ON A TIE
In August 2007, I was thrilled to play a role in a new independant feature film, written and directed by Campbell Scott (Secret Lives of Dentists, Roger Dodger). The film, Company Retreat, stars Matt Malloy and Sam Robards. Okay, first, how bizarre is it that as I leave behind the Broadway production of Company, I land a role in a film called Company Retreat? Just sayin'. I play Steve, a mid-level cable network exec who brings in a couple questionable characters to pitch a new reality series that pits the white-collar execs of a major corporation against their blue-collar colleagues. But things are not always what they seem. It was great to work with Campbell, and I can't wait to see the film. Stay tuned for release information!
COMPANY WINS BEST
During the Spring 2007 awards season, Company got its share. We won Best Revival of a Musical at The Drama Desk Awards, The Drama League Awards, and the Outer Circle Critics Awards. Also, Our own Raul Esparza won Best Actor in a Musical from each of these awards. Plus Mary Mitchell Campbell won the Drama Desk Award for Best Orchestrations for her genius re-tooling of this great 37 year-old score. And of course the big one - the Tony Awards. We were nominated for Best Revival, Best Actor and Best Director in the Musicals field. And on June 10th, Kevin Spacey and Jane Krakowski opened the envelope to reveal the Tony for the best revival of a musical goes to ... Company!!
PHONE RINGS, HORN PLAYS - HERE COMES
The Tony-winning Stephen Sondheim hit Company has been produced countless times over the last 30 years, but this new staging by John Doyle (Broadway's Sweeney Todd ) was in no way "run of the mill." Word of this bold new production, originally developed at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park (The Cincinnati Enquirer) in Spring 2006, prompted Broadway's top producers to reserve flights and theatre seats to witness the event. After critical raves locally (The Cincinnati Enquirer) and nationally (The New York Times), producer Richard Frankel (The Producers, Hairspray, Little Shop and Sweeney Todd), announced that his company would indeed bring Company to Broadway. The entire original cast was reassembled and opened at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on November 29th, 2006. I again played Larry (and the clarinet!) opposite Barbara Walsh (Tony nominee, Falsettos) as the jaded Joanne and Raul Esparza (Tony nominee, Taboo) starring as bachelor Bobby. Thanks to the many, many of you who came to visit us at the Barrymore!!
My unusual background (for an actor) prompted the Wall Street Journal to run an article about my transition from business mogul to actor (November 21, 2006 issue). You can read the full article (and see the absolutley fabulous characature of yours truly) right here! Since then, similar articles have appeared in other publications, including Parade Magazine, Der Spiegel(the Newsweek of Germany) (Dec), Westchester Magazine, Rochester Magazine and The Sondheim Review(Spring '07), which republished the WSJ article.
BROOKLYN IN FLORIDA
November '05 throught January '06 was a great time to be in the sunshine state, especially since I was there to perform the play Brooklyn Boy by Donald Margulies (Dinner with Friends, The Loman Family Picnic) at Florida Studio Theatre in Sarasota. The play is about a successful novelist, Eric Weiss, who returns to his old Brooklyn neighborhood to visit his sick father, just as virtually everything in his life is in upheaval. I played Eric's discarded boyhood pal, Ira, still living in Brooklyn, who raises the age-old point, you can take the boy out of Brooklyn, but you know. The run was particularly fun in that I got to see lots of friends and relatives (many from Rochester!) who have moved to Sarasota or spend a good part of their winters there. The play was a hit with audiences and critics, alike. "Ira" got some lovely notices AND when the season was over, I won The Sarasota Herald Tribune's 2006 Handy® Award for Best Supporting Actor in a play or musical. The Sarasota Herald Tribune said:
"Emotionally affecting and funny, the production is at its strongest and most believable whenever Bruce Sabath appears as Eric's childhood friend Ira Zimmer There's a genuineness and honesty to Sabath's performance that makes him come across as the mensch next door.
The Sarasota Pelican Press said:
Ira Zimmer is played by Bruce Sabath with scene stealing ethnicity Sabath glides through a range of emotions, shifting effortlessly from sycophantic envy to combative confrontation.
For the complete reviews, click on the publications named above.
BACK TO WALLSTREET??
No, I haven't decided to return to the Securities business, but my knowlege of the jargon recently came in handy. You financial news junkies may have heard my voice on several TV spots for Pipeline, a new block-trading processing company. Catch them on CNBC, or right here, at Pipeline's website!
I FINALLY GET TO BE A WAITER!!
... in an amusing little commercial spot for the Volkswagen Passat. VW has been touting the features of the new Passat by comparing them to analogous scenarios. For a sample, go to VW's Passat site, click on "Forward Velocity," then "view the feature films" and then choose #24, "intermittent wipers."
NEW YORK'S FINEST ... AND FUNNIEST
I was back on Comedy Central in December, doing a bit with stand-up comic Jay Oakerson, as a couple of cops in a ratty precinct house. It was all a part of Comedy Central's Secret Stash show.
REALITY TV AS WEAPON IN NEW COMEDY
In September 2005, I went to Boston to play the central role in the independent feature, Criminality, directed by Rex Dean. I play Bert Dartagnon, a ruined TV producer, betrayed by a duplicitous protege. Finally out of the loony bin, Bert is sucked into a loonier bin when he is persuaded by a trusted maintenance man to stage a phony reality show to con the "contestants" into performing crimes against his former apprentice. Will revenge be sweet? We'll find out when post-production is completed!
"FLEET WEEK: THE MUSICAL" WINS BEST
Sexually confused sailors? French-Caribbean terrorists? A bomb-making red-neck (played by yours-truly)? A sea-captain in love ... (also me)... with a statue? It was all part of the very funny and touching new musical, "Fleet Week: The Musical" at the 2005 New York Fringe Festival. Featuring Tony nominee Melissa Hart and 2004 FringeNYC Best Performer winner Micah Bucey, the buzz on the show was amazing. The opening night performance at the storied Lucille Lortel Theatre was SOLD OUT (300 seats!) two weeks before the performance, and the rest of the run soon followed. When it was all over, "Fleet Week" won the coveted BEST MUSICAL award for the Festival! For all the reviews and the whole story, visit FleetWeektheMusical.com.
WAS THAT BRUCE EATING THOSE FRIES?
Yes it was! The commercials were keeping me quite busy spring '05. You may have seen me and my pretend family enjoying a burger at Wendy's, promoting their trip-to-Florida sweepstakes with TVLand. That same pretend family was subsequently hired to film a commercial promoting parental control of TV viewing (so the government doesn't do it for us! A worthy cause.). You poker fans may have caught my very funny spot for the World Poker Tour Championship. The spot featured live representations of well-known poker hands like "snowmen" (pair of 8s), "cowboys" (pair of kings), "twins" (a pair of 10s - get it?) and my role, "three wise men" (three kings). On the non-broadcast front, I did an amusing "roast" video for my "alma mater", American Express. I also shot videos for Intel and Monte Fiore Hospital.
A MAJOR ROLE IN AN EXCITING
June '05 marked the shooting of the indy feature, Trajectory, written and directed by Chris Funderburg. Westchester film buffs will recognize Mr. Funderburg as the associate program director of the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville (NO ONE knows more about independent film than Chris!). In the film, I play a scientist on the verge of perfecting a computer program that can predict the future. When the scientist and his bodyguards are ambushed by mysterious gunmen, the investigation of the incident leads to an unexpected convergence of scientists, small-time drug dealers and the russian mafia. Can the outcome truly be predicted? Find out in Trajectory. Coming to DVD soon!
I'LL CHANGE YOUR LIFE WHILE YOU DRIVE TO
February 28th '05 was the official release date for the new book, How to Change Anybody, by New York Times best-selling author, David Lieberman, PhD. The audiobook (published by Audio Renaissance on CD or cassette), read by yours truly, was released at the same time. The book features simple ways to help you change your friends, your boss, your colleages, even your family for the better! So don't get mad, get to the bookstore!
HOLIDAYS GETTING COMMERCIAL? MINE
I expected December '04 to be a very quiet month in the business, but I was pleasantly surprised. I was fortunate enought to book THREE television commercials between Thanksgiving and New Years. The first was a Comedy Central spot featuring a department store Santa and me as a guy sheepishly asking Santa for a really big present -- Viagra. The other two which should be airing through the winter are for Mutual of Omaha (I'm the spokesman for a life insurance product), and Bristol Myers Squibb (I play an optimistic prospect for a new cancer drug). Watch your tube (or your plasma panel)!
HERE COMES "THESE PEOPLE"
October 8th, 2004 marked opening night for my first production as a producer! But don't fret - I'm not changing careers. I was also in the show. The play was "These People," a great new satiric comedy by New York playwright Chris Widney. If you've ever been a member of a coutry club (or wondered about the people who are), you would have loved this funny yet insightful play. We ran through the month of October at the American Theatre of Actors. The show garnered many excellent reviews, including a "must see" from Showbusiness Weekly. For reviews, photos, and more on my new production company, Golden Day Productions, visit www.GoldenDayPro.com.
WINE AND SONG
In July, '04, I workshopped a new musical called Wine Notes, an entertaining piece that combines a book musical with a wine tasting. The piece was co-written by composer Gary Negbaur and writer-performer-wine expert, Michael Green (Michael is the wine consultant for Gourmet Magazine). The piece chronicals an evening at a wine tasting class where the experience provided by the instructor Charles (played by yours truly) helps to bring together two very different students at the tasting. The audience learns and tastes along with the cast.
HISTORY CHANNEL SPOT PROMOTES NEW
In June '04, I premiered in a History Channel promo for their new show, The Tech Effect. I play a guy that only watches reality TV, and as a result, is boring his family and friends to death - literally! It's a pretty funny little piece. Watch for it on The History Channel, A&E, MSNBC, CNBC and ESPN.
THE GIRL FRIEND
In May '04 I had the priviledge of performing in the musical The Girl Friend. This 1926 hit by Rodgers and Hart was produced in New York by Musicals Tonight!, a company that hunts for long-lost musicals and revives them for short runs (much like the higher-budget ENCORES! series at City Center). I played the corrupt but lovable bicycle-race trainer, Mac.
PANTHER PLOT FOILED!
On Tuesday, April 6th '04, I was to portray Inspector Jacques Clouseau in a live interview with Co-host Tony Perkins on ABC's Good Morning America. The appearance was part of the 40th anniversary celebration of the classic Pink Panther film series, and MGM's release of a DVD boxed set of the films. Unfortunately, due to scheduling/logistical issues at GMA, the segment was pulled at the 11th hour (literally!). That's the real curse of the Pink Panther!
AMAZON, BORDERS, and WALMART, OH,
The audiobook of Digital Fortress, a thriller by Dan Brown, author of The DaVinci Code is now in stores everywhere! The story centers on the hunt for a secret code, which if not recovered, could pose an unfathomable security threat to the United States in this information age. As the sole narrator, I play over 30 characters, haling from all over the world in this global chase. The audiobook, published by Audio Renaissance, was released along with a new release of the paperback (St. Martins Press). Both are now BEST-SELLERS! See the cover and listen to a clip here!
On film: In March '04 I began shooting the feature film Work of Art, directed by David Dore. I play two look-alikes (yes, two different characters!) who are involved in a plot to recover a valuable and mysterious painting that some would kill for...
On TV: Finally! My first episode of Law & Order. On the Feb. 24th '04 episode of L&O-Special Victims Unit, I played a referee at a high school basketball game. If you were watching, I was the guy in the stripes!
I CAN SELL ANYTHING - EVEN PRO
I recently shot a commercial for the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE, formerly WWF) show Raw! I play a massive wrestler called Bulldozer... no, just kidding. I play a strict father of a teen-age boy, who escapes a boring dinner with mom and dad to watch his favorite show. The spot is now airing on ESPN, MTV and Spike TV (where Raw airs, Mondays at 9pm, if you want to catch it!).
On Stage: In November and December 2003, I was featured in the new musical comedy, "We're All Dead" at Chashama Theatre in New York. The show is based on the classic stories of Oedipus Rex, Hamlet and Kafka's Metamorphosis. Sounds funny already, right? Actually, it is. The writing by Francis Heaney and James Evans morphs between high wit, sophomoric goofball humor and camp, but it always keeps you laughing, from ancient Greece to the royal Danish court to surrealist Germany. Oedipus, Hamlet and Gregor (the bug-guy) were brought to life, respectively, by the very talented Matt Walton, Jed Cohen and Jason St. Sauver. I played the doomed dads, Laius and Claudius, along with a few other surprises along the way. Add to that a cast of seventeen, and a really rockin' band, and you've never had so much fun.
AND THE AWARD GOES TO ... "Prince Hal"!!
On September 8th, at a ceremony at the Minetta Lane Theatre, the cast and crew of "Prince Hal" was awarded a 2003 OOBR Award. Of over 500 shows reviewed by the Off-Off Broadway Review (OOBR) during the 2002-03 season, the writers of this publication selected just 18 productions for this award. I played the TITLE ROLE in this new play by Bennett Windheim at the 45th Street Theatre in March. Congrats to all! See the show's poster and Read the Review in the Off-Off Broadway Review (OOBR).
On Stage: In October '03, I performed in a workshop of the new musical, "Hamlet Sings!". This new work was produced by the award-winning Prospect Theatre and featured vignets by SEVEN composers, including Carol Hall ("Best Little Whore House in Texas") and Jonathan Larson Award-winner Peter Mills ('Taxi Cabaret" and "Illyria").
On Stage: In July '03, I returned to Untermyer Park in Yonkers for the third season of the Yonkers Shakespeare Project. (I was honored to play the title role in YSP's premiere production of "Macbeth" in July '01.) This summer, the theme was "Portraits of Love, " as I played Hortensio in "The Taming of the Shrew" and Oberon in "A Midsummer Night's Dream." For details, see my YSP page.
Wrapped in May '03: "The Great Pretenders" -- an independent short, by Jeremy Cohen. In this hysterical story of a bizarre outplacement office (where no one ever seems to find a new job), I play Cliff, a former office cubicle salesman who keeps up that sunny exterior, but sneaks whiskey in his morning coffee.
On Stage: In March '03, I played the TITLE ROLE in the premiere of Bennett Windheim's new comedy, "Prince Hal", directed by Elysabeth Kleinhans. It is 1958, and Hal (aka Harold, aka Heschie), is a successful New York Theatre publicist who has left his Brighton Beach Jewish roots far behind. But when he returns to the old neighborhood for a friend's wedding (with his non-Jewish girlfriend), he finds that the Jewish baggage he thought he had discarded is right where he left it. What will happen to this man who is walking a mental tightrope between two worlds? "Prince Hal" ran the month of March at the 45th Street Theatre in New York. Read the Review in the Off-Off Broadway Review (OOBR).
WOULD YOU BUY SOAP FROM THIS MAN? - I recently reached agreements with two major agencies - Innovative Artists and HWA - to represent me for commercials on a freelance basis. I will now have the opportunity to be considered for National TV spots and the like. So don't fast-forward through those commercials - you might miss me!
Wrapped in December '02: "East Broadway" (aka "Mott Street") -- an independent short (in preparation for a feature), by Fay Ann Lee, and starring B.D. Wong. This is a romantic comedy about a female investment bank (Lee) from a humble Chinatown family who is mistaken for a Hong Kong heiress. I play Wong and Lee's cocky boss, Jim Bergman.
On Stage: Had a powerful winter storm when I performed in Shakespeare's "The Tempest" at the Storm Theatre in February '03. I played Alonso, King of Naples, who has been shipwrecked on a strange island by the magical Prospero in a "game" to resolve the wrongs of the past. Read the review in NYTheatre.com.
On Stage: In November '02, I performed in "Richard III", as part of the American Globe Theatre's "Bard-a-thon". This was my Shakespeare debut in New York City! I played Buckingham, Richard's "righthand man" who assists in bringing the corrupt ruler to the throne, only to be betrayed by him.
On Stage: In August '02, I was close to home, playing the role of Rev. Shaw Moore in "Footloose". This recent Broadway musical, based on the 1980s film of the same title, tells the story of a young troublemaker, Ren, who softens the heart of the puritanicle Moore who has "outlawed" dancing and revelry after his own young son was killed in an accident. This was the first production in the new Colleen Dewhurst Theatre at the Northern Westchester Center for the Arts.
On Stage: In July '02, I returned to West Virginia Public Theatre in Morgantown, WV (where I did "1776" last summer) to play Amos Hart in "Chicago" and Simon Stride in "Jekyll & Hyde".
Wrapped in June '02: "Searching for Harrison" -- an independent short by Josh Grossberg extrapolating from the real-life story in which Harrison Ford rescued a lost hiker in his helicopter. In the film, two rabid Ford fans deliberately get themselves lost with the hopes of being rescued by their hero. While in the woods, they chance to meet numerous people who look a lot like characters out of Ford's movies, from "Star Wars" to "Air Force One". I play a character reminiscent of Greedo, the alien bounty hunter in "Star Wars".
Wrapped in June '02: "Simple Revenge" -- an independent feature, by award-winning film maker Brian Averill. This is a crime drama about an obsessive woman (Holly Perkins), determined to "get away with murder". I play a criminal lawyer attempting to defend a man framed for murdering his wife.
Wrapped in May '02: "Anatomy of a Fight" -- an independent feature by Nick Woythaler. This is a coming of age story in which I play a former bully now being confronted as an adult by the man I tormented as a youth.
Wrapped in May '02: "M" -- a spec commercial for AT&T MLife (their wireless telecom business). The commercial is based on the 1930s film starring Peter Lorre. In the spot, a suspiscious, conservative man (me) is pursued by series of people who, it turns out, are simply trying to get him to embrace wireless technology. The spot was produced by Bigger Pictures and directed by Dominic Lahiff.
Wrapped in April '02: "Stand Alone" -- a graduate thesis film by Anthony Yannios (SVA) about a man (played by myself) who returns home alone, after a car accident leaves him paralyzed from the waist down. He must relearn the most basic of tasks, and decide whether to rely on others or himself.
Wrapped in April '02: "Wedding Bout" -- an independent film by Russel Costanzo and Melissa Miller about two not so compatable families on the eve of a wedding. When things get out of hand, the scene transforms into an actual boxing match between the bride and groom. I play the sportscaster covering the bout, along with real-life boxing commentator, Max Kellerman.
On Stage: The 8th Annual Turnip Festival, April '02, at the American Globe Theatre in New York. My play is called "Goodbye Song", a comedy by Jimmy Barden. It concerns a mob figure who, being pressured by "the Family" to accelerate the passing of his "on-death's-door" mother, hires a musician (me) with a mystical specialty of playing music that eases people toward "the great beyond". Naturally, things don't proceed as planned (historical note: Thank goodness for this project: This is what prompted me to get my clarinet out of mothballs after over fifteen years!)
"The Prodigal Son" is in the can! This is a DV psycho-thriller (28 min) in which I play the title role, a man obsessed with the chance to confront his estranged father in a "winner-take-all" game of chess. Contact me for a VHS copy.
Last updated: 6/30/2012