Although we have announced our 2014 ArtsImpulse Theatre Award Winners, we continue our Nominee Interview Series.
NOTE: If you or your production was nominated for a 2014 ArtsImpulse Theatre Award, and you would like to participate in a Nominee Interview, please email us here.
Sam Simahk brought his charming energy to a spellbinding production of Into the Woods at The Lyric Stage Company of Boston. His Rapunzel's Prince easily lived up to his princely duties, especially his "Agony" and "Agony [Reprise]" of one-upmanship between Rapunzel's Prince and Cinderella's Prince. In his Interview, Sam dazzles us with his personality (he's also charming in real life!), including telling us about his favorite Disney prince (he wish he would quit monkeying around), dishing about his favorite karaoke songs, and reminding us why we should smile. Sam, you made us smile, onstage and offstage!
Hi, Sam, it is a pleasure to interview you for ArtsImpulse. Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself? Who are you, where are you from, and what do you do?
Thanks so much; it's a pleasure to be interviewed! I'm from Ashburnham, MA, a small town in northern central MA. I'm an actor/waiter/bartender that currently lives in NYC, but, luckily, I've been doing a lot more acting work than food service as of late.
What is some of your performing background and training?
I started acting as a kid. I did every school show I could, and I performed at the local community theatre, Theatre at the Mount, in Gardner, MA. After high school, I went to Emerson College in Boston and graduated with a BFA in Musical Theatre (five years ago today . . . starting to feel old).
Tell us more about Rapunzel’s Prince. How did you choose to portray him? What was most fun about playing him?
I loved playing this character. I think he's a funny guy--he's a prince, but he'll never be king; that's his brother's role. So, he's got this Prince Harry thing going on. But more importantly than his nobility, he's a little brother. And, as a little brother, he's constantly trying to measure up to Cinderella's Prince. So I tried to make that evident without hitting the audience over the head with it; most of us have siblings and can identify with the inherent rivalry that comes with growing up together.
Had you seen the Into the Woods movie? What was different from The Lyric’s production?
I actually have not seen the movie yet! I'm so bad about seeing things in theaters, and usually just wait until I can watch them at home, where pants are not a necessity.
If you could be any Disney prince, who would you be and why?
I don't know about the princes, but I always wanted to be King Louis in The Jungle Book; he gets to sit up in the treetops, eating bananas, and dancing like a goof. That's way more fun than rescuing damsels from dragon-witches (and the stakes are a lot lower). Plus, the princes always seem a little creepy to me--something about romantically kissing sleeping acquaintances rubs me the wrong way.
What is the best compliment that anyone has ever given you about your performing? About you as a person?
Honestly, it's always the little things that are the most flattering. And it's always from the scene partners. I'd take a million bad reviews if I can have one scene partner say: "[T]hat was a great scene tonight," as we leave the stage.
Likewise, I think the best compliments I could possibly have are personified in my friends. I'm just lucky that such cool, fun, kind, hilarious people end up letting me hang out with them, even when I get up on a soapbox about something that doesn't matter, or choose to dwell in melancholia once in a while.
If you could turn back time, where would you go? What would you do?
This is always a tough question, partially because prior to the 1960s a half-Asian person would be considered an abomination by a lot of people. If that weren't an issue, I'd probably want to go to a time when the world had yet to be discovered and I could travel around, seeing sights that nobody in recorded history had ever seen before.
And maybe some medieval setting, where I could ride around on a horse and dispense vigilante justice. But I think that's mainly because I'm really into Game of Thrones right now.
What are some of your favorite karaoke songs? Where do you like to perform them?
"I Believe I Can Fly" is usually a crowd favorite. "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me," complete with lascivious double-entendre, is also a lot of fun. "Ballroom Blitz," by the Sweet, is the wild card, "I've had way too much caffeine" choice. I don't do karaoke all that often, but I definitely have my favorites picked out, and I will do them anywhere near a karaoke mic.
MISCAST! What roles would you love to play but you, sadly, cannot for whatever reason (age, gender, race, voice type, etc.)?
The Baker's Wife in Into the Woods is a miscast dream role. "Moments in the Woods" is such a great song, and it'd be great to do it in the context of the show. Jim Conley in Parade is also such a great character, or anybody in that show. I may be a little ethnically-ambiguous to play a post-Civil War good ol' boy, though.
What makes you smile?
When something goes wrong onstage and you make eye contact with one person. And in that instant, the two of you say (completely non-verbally), "[T]hat wasn't supposed to happen, and you know that, and maybe they don't know that, but they probably do. Either way, this is funny, and now we've gotta figure out how to make it work." It's all in a quick glance, and even if I'm not smiling externally, I'm beaming underneath.
Do you have any upcoming projects or productions?
I'll be returning to Boston late this summer, but I'm not sure if I'm allowed to disclose any more information than that as of yet.
Do you have anything else to share with our ArtsImpulse readers?
I'd just like to thank everybody for the honor of being recognized for doing what I love. When I was a kid, this was just something I did for fun. As I've gotten older, it's become something that I do for a career, and, sometimes, it's a lot more work than I'd like for it to be. But when I'm up on stage, I'm right back to being that little kid, and I'm just glad that people allow me to keep on doing it. So, thanks for watching, reading, and enabling me to stave off adulthood, one day at a time. Cheers!