Sayer Roberts - AUSTIN BENNET
Sayer Roberts is a fresh face to the Musical Theatre community here in Vancouver. A recent graduate from the ever popular Capilano University Musical Theatre program, he has been taking this city by storm having not only landed the lead role of Austin Bennet in the ITP
production of I LOVE YOU BECAUSE
, but also Rolf in Gateway Theatre
‘s THE SOUND OF MUSIC
and Barnaby in RCMT
‘s HELLO, DOLLY!
We got to sit with Sayer for 10 minutes and amidst talk about brotherhood, nerd culture and even Seth MacFarlene, we learnt what makes Sayer Roberts tick!
ITP: Hi Sayer! Welcome to IntimateTheatreProductions.com’s first cast interview!
SR: Oh, hi ITP!
ITP: So! First question I’m going to ask is; What is *your* first Musical Theatre experience?
SR: First Musical Theatre experience was in grade 12. We did a production of ANNIE
ITP: And which school was this at?
SR: It was at New Westminster Secondary School, and *I* played President Roosevelt. Along with several chorus characters.
ITP: And what is your dream role in Musical Theatre?
SR: That is a very tough question – there are so many. *snicker* Regardless of the role, I would love to be in LES MISÉRABLES. The wonderfully talented Aaron Lau just introduced me to THE BOOK OF MORMON, and now being in that show would be quite a hoot, I think. I would love to play Frederick in THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE as well.
ITP: Nice diverse set of roles and goals there. What do you think, in your mind, would be the most exciting thing about the ITP production of I LOVE YOU BECAUSE?
VH: (in a loud whisper) Working with Victor Hunter!!!
SR: Hahaha. The most exciting thing. Well at first glance, just the show itself, is something that not many people know, but it is fantastically written. The lyrics and the script are so applicable to actual real life. Personally, learning the script has been really easy because a lot of the language is very natural for me. What my character Austin says is something I would find myself saying or phrasing that way, so it’s a very understandable language.
And from ITP’s point of view, doing the show is fantastic because it is a really great small show, and a great, fantastic, good kick start to the company. It was a very good choice on ITP’s part.
ITP: Well thank you! So you play Austin Bennet, an uptight greeting card writer in the show. Do you find any similarities between Austin and yourself?
SR: We’re just very similar people overall. He’s a little more uptight than I am, but I like things certain ways and he likes things certain ways. He definitely dresses fancier than I do, but that’s probably because he makes more money than I do. He also lives in New York, so you have to be fancy. His sense of humour and the things that he says are very similar to how I would say it. I see a lot of myself in Austin, and it’s been very easy. The biggest difference is how uptight he is. He definitely likes to plan things way in advance and that’s not something I necessarily do. I like things to be systematic and predictable, but I don’t like to plan ahead so it’s kinda of a contradiction of itself. A lot of problems arise because of that. But he’s definitely more of a stickler for the details than I am.
ITP: What then is your background in theatre?
SR: Not very long. That show in high school was the first thing I ever did and then for some strange reason I decided to go into theatre for university.
ITP: Do you have any family members in theatre perhaps?
VH: *snickering in the background*
SR: I do have family members in theatre! In fact, my mother is Colleen Winton, who has been in theatre since she was in university and all that jazz. (Author’s note: Shameless plug here – Colleen is actually appearing in the Arts Club Theatre Company‘s production of CALENDAR GIRLS, which happens to be running at the Stanley Theatre on the exact same dates as I LOVE YOU BECAUSE) And my father is Russell Roberts who is also an actor, who’s appeared at Bard on the Beach for several seasons. He grew up in Wales and went to theatre school there. They both also attended the University of British Columbia.
ITP: So you *are* an actor who comes from a pretty regal acting pedigree, aren’t you?
SR: Well, *haha* I guess you can say I’m a pure breed!
ITP: And you didn’t do your first show until grade 12? That’s fascinating!
SR: Oh! I didn’t want to do theatre before that!
ITP: I know that you and Victor Hunter weren’t in the same grad class at Cap U, but I do know that you had a 2 year crossover, also you two did FOOTLOOSE: THE MUSICAL together. What’s it like having Victor as your brother?
Victor Hunter & Sayer Roberts as Jeff & Austin Bennet
SR: Really easy, really natural. Victor and I have always gotten along very well. And now that we’re getting to know each other even more, we get along even better. We both love video games and nerdy things of that ilk. I think we kinda look a bit similar too, so it kinda works that we’re playing brothers.
ITP: Has anyone ever suggested that you two play brothers before?
SR: Not to me at least. I don’t think that we’ve ever actually been together in a situation where people would look at us to be brothers. Just the tiny fact that he was one year ahead of me at Cap U, just gives him that tiny little bit of life authority that you give to people who are either older than you, or a year ahead of you or whatever. So there is that natural sense of him being the older brother…ness? So it’s really easy to be brotherly with him on stage, I find. And when we poke fun at each other, or when he’s bugging me or giving me advice, it’s been very easy to react and act with that. I love working with Victor Hunter!
ITP: So to date, what is your best experience in the Theatre?
SR: My best experience to date, I would have to say, is a recent production of SOUND OF MUSIC I did at the Gateway Theatre. Working with that company was fantastic. Everybody in that show was just delightful and Chris McGregor, the director, had a stunning way of conveying how he wanted the show. It was a brilliant take on it. I was playing Rolf and Ranae Miller was playing Liesl and working with her in the number “16 Going On 17″ was the most fun I’ve ever had on stage yet, so that was a delight!
ITP: Who are your acting role models, be it in the Theatre/Musical Theatre, or on TV/Film?
SR: Well, hands down, no questions asked: Hugh Jackman. Why? For everything in life – being a good person and talented and handsome and fit and everything.
ITP: So would THE BOY FROM OZ be another show that you’d probably want to do in the future?
SR: Yes! I’m not that familiar with it, but I have enjoyed what I’ve seen from it. But yes, Hugh is definitely one of my idols. Who else would be a good one?
VH: (From across the room) Victor Hunter!
ITP: Let’s see…what is the next question?
VH: How much *do* you love Victor Hunter?
ITP: Quiet Victor! You’ll get your turn! Now Sayer – If you could go back in time and could do any Broadway Musical, what show would you do, which role and why?
SR: If I could go back in time, meaning I could work with people who are no longer on Broadway?
ITP: Sure, if you want to take that as your interpretation of the question, go right ahead!
SR: I don’t know. Being as I’ve only technically been in the theatre world for about three years, I’m not too familiar with the history of Broadway and it’s performers.
ITP: Is there a show that you wish you could’ve been part of the Original Broadway Cast then?
SR: Hm…that’s a good question. I think what I would have to say that I would want to be a part of something that’s as ground breaking as THE BOOK OF MORMON. Not necessarily being *in* THE BOOK OF MORMON (that would’ve been fantastic, obviously!), but being in something that breaks so many barriers and still *is* a fantastic show.
ITP: Sort of like the way that BYE BYE BIRDIE! introduced Rock & Roll music to the Musical Theatre syllabus.
SR: Very close. Or something like SPRING AWAKENING, which was a great interpretation. Keeping the classic script and text, but then having contemporary music stylings I think is a really interesting new idea for the world of Musical Theatre. Something really good and different like that.
ITP: So if you could have four musical theatre people, be they actors, writers, composers etc…, and they’d gather around a table in your salon, who would you like to have?
SR: The first person I’d have at my table would be Kevin Kline (whom you can also add to my list of idols). Let’s see. Stephen Sondheim, yes, but I’d be so intimidated, I wouldn’t even know what I could say to him.
(Sayer then takes time to think of two other people. A really long time! But finally…)
SR: I’ve thought long and hard, and I think I would definitely want Seth MacFarlene at that table. I think that Seth MacFarlene is so great at just understanding humour and putting it into things. I love his sense of humour. But he’s also a great Musical Theatre lover – He has a degree in Musical Theatre plus he’s an amazing singer. He’s just one of those people that I’d love to get to know better and just hang out with him.
ITP: So we’ve got Seth MacFarlene, Stephen Sondheim and Kevin Kline so far…the last person would be…
SR: I don’t know…I guess I’d have to go with one of the greats: Ian McKellen.
ITP: On a slight tangent – What if Seth MacFarlene were to write a musical? I mean, a full musical and not just a few numbers for FAMILY GUY.
SR: I think that he probably has one in the works. It would be BRILLIANT. Seth MacFarlene, if you happen to be reading this interview – Write a Musical. PLEASE!
ITP: Now here’s a big question tho: If Seth MacFarlene writes a musical, in your personal opinion, how do you think Seth should change his comedy stylings so it doesn’t get reflected as copying Trey Parker and Matt Stone?
SR: I don’t think it would because Trey and Matt have their own really unique style that goes hand-in-hand with SOUTH PARK, which is really blunt and really abrasive – but fantastic! FAMILY GUY can be blunt and abrasive too, but they’re really good at putting the subtleties in the jokes, so you might not get it. They also put in jokes specifically for certain demographics that a broad spectrum won’t understand, but the few people who do will go “ahhhhhh!”. So I don’t think it would conflict so much. And specifically, I’m sure Seth could write something similar to THE BOOK OF MORMON, but I think his style would take him in a completely different direction. I think that he might write something a little smaller, but you never know, judging by the musical numbers that he puts into FAMILY GUY.
ITP: Back to the theatre stuff: What do you think you’d be doing if you couldn’t perform?
SR: Hmm…what would I do? When I was younger I always liked drawing. I’ve played piano for years and years and I also play trumpet. Music has always been a part of my life. I was good at English and writing, but I’ve never really thought about it before because Theatre has always been so plainly there for me to do. This is one of those tough questions that make your realize “Man! I need a fallback plan!”.
ITP: What do you think is missing from Vancouver’s Musical Theatre scene? What do you think needs to happen, or what would you like to see happen?
SR: I would like to see one of the larger theatre companies in Vancouver take over one of the larger theatres (The Queen Elizabeth Theatre or The Centre for Performing Arts). That way huge scale productions can be produced locally with Vancouver’s own talent instead of big Canadian National Tours or Broadway Touring companies to use these spaces. We have these theatres here in town, so why don’t we use them? Let Vancouverites experience their own talent in these massive auditoriums. That’s something that I’d love to see happen. It probably won’t happen for a long time, or even at all. I would love to see bigger scale productions put on. Essentially I would just like to see more money put into the arts by the government. I guess that’s the long and the short of it!
ITP: Do you have any final words for people reading this interview? Maybe some words of wisdom to impart on our fellow readers and to encourage them to come out to see the show?
SR: It’s great to give new companies and new works a try. I guarantee, if you are doubting whether or not you’d like this show, that you would be pleasantly surprised! After reading the script for me, it was a delightful time. It was funny, sad, happy, very charming and the music is bouncy, fun and memorable. You will definitely go away humming at least one of the tunes from the show!
ITP: Thanks for stopping by and giving us some of your precious time!
SR: Thanks for having me!
Make sure you head to Brown Paper Tickets to get your tickets for I LOVE YOU BECAUSE at Studio 1398 on Granville Island, February 8th-25th!!!
Jeff, Marcy, Austin & Diana