Anthony Sagaria born in Dayton, Ohio is an actor best known for roles in American Psycho, Wicked and many more.
We got a chance to speak to Anthony about the differences between a standby, a swing and understudy and also his love of board games and Moulin Rouge!
How did you get into acting, was there a particular performance you saw that resonated with you?
I didn’t start performing until I was in high school but I had wanted to try it for a while because I saw a production of Aladdin Jr. at my town’s community theatre when I was in 7th grade. One of my best friends was in it and I was in awe watching their production but I was too busy playing sports at the time to give it a try until later.
Where did you train?
I trained at the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music in Cleveland, Ohio. It’s a small school, in a tiny town called Berea but it was really everything I could have asked for in a music theatre program.
What has been your favourite role you have played and why?
This question is always so difficult. I think I would have to pick Fiyero in Wicked. I understudied him but every time we rehearsed or that I got to go on, there’s just this realness about him that I think everyone struggles with. The idea of wanting to appear like things are always great and happy but then the backlash of feeling like we aren’t being true to ourselves. It’s so wonderfully written that getting to explore that made me really connect with him.
For those who may not know, could you explain the difference between a standby, a swing, and an understudy?
It all has to do with what types of roles you cover and how often you perform. A standby is off stage and does not perform every night and covers a principle character. An understudy performs every night and covers a principle character. However, if the principle gets sick and has to call out, the standby will go on before the understudy does in most cases.
A swing is essentially an understudy for the ensemble but they don’t perform each night. They learn numerous tracks so if any of the ensemble members go out, they can hop right in and keep the show running smoothly.
They are all so important because without all of them, shows would be cancelling left and right anytime someone got sick..
Where has been your favourite place to perform on stage and why?
It’s a toss-up between the Schoenfeld Theatre in NYC and the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. I made my Fiyero debut at the Kennedy Center and the history of that theatre is amazing, the theatre itself is gorgeous, and the art scene there is spectacular. However, the Schoenfeld Theatre in NYC is where I made my Broadway debut so everything about that space holds a special place in my heart.
What is the most rewarding thing about your work?
I get to go to work every day and tell beautiful stories that will hopefully affect other people or hopefully make a small impression on them. Stories of empowerment, love, hope, loss, etc. Everyone is going through something and the theatre either allows them to escape from that for a little while or helps them open up and understand something a little more clearly. If we succeed at that, there is really nothing else I would rather be doing.
What’s been a funny moment for you on stage? Any mishaps you want to share!?
The first time I ever fell on stage was also at the Kennedy Center. We were in the middle of the dance break of Dancing Through LIfe and my partner and I were moving across stage to get to our mark for the true start of the dance break when I accidentally clipped her leg causing her to trip. I tried to catch her which then also caused me to fall on top of her while everyone around us was looking gorgeous doing their dance in the Ozdust Ballroom. No one got hurt, we had a good laugh, and I’m sure I was beet red for the rest of the number.
If you hadn’t have been an actor what would you be doing?
I’ve always loved music from a very young age. So, if I wasn’t an actor I would probably want to be a music producer. To be on the ground floor of making an album sounds pretty incredible to me.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I’m a competitive human so I love board games, cards, sports, etc. I have a real passion for video games as an art form and as entertainment, reading in general, and I’ve been working more on improving my piano/guitar playing and composing.
What advice would you give to someone who would like to get into the theatre industry?
I think you just have to be able to be real honest with yourself and say, okay what are the aspects of my talents that need some improvement. You don’t have to be overly critical but at the end of the day the goal is to always be improving and the only way to really achieve that is through honesty.
Who are your influences and inspirations?
There’s way too many for me to be able to name them all but two that I thought of immediately are Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul. Their work in Breaking Bad is truly a work of art and it really changed the way that I looked at building a character.
What’s next for you?
Right now, I am loving my time at The New Theatre in Kansas playing Sky in Mamma Mia! Once that ends in late September, I’ll head back to NYC and start looking for my next project.
What’s your go to song for auditions or just singing in the shower?
My go to shower songs have been gravitating towards my boyband side these past few weeks. As a result, it’s been a lot of The 1975 recently. Sara Bareilles is also always a good choice.
Is there a role (regardless of gender) you would love to play in a musical?
So many. I’ve wanted to be in Moulin Rouge since I saw the movie years ago and now that it’s projected to come to Broadway I’ve got my eye on it. I’d also love to be Gerry in Beautiful or Elder Price in Book Of Mormon. The list goes on and on. I’m a real sucker for new musicals so I’m always looking for what could be next.
Where can people follow your work on Twitter/Facebook/YouTube etc?