Justin Sargent


EP 74: Justin Sargent (autogenerated)

Dane Reis: [00:00:00] 

[00:00:00] you booked it, episode 74. 

[00:00:05] Okay, let’s get started. I am excited to introduce my guest today. Justin Sergeant. Are you ready for this, Justin?

[00:00:15]Justin Sargent: [00:00:15] Oh, more than, you know, Dane. 

[00:00:17] Dane Reis: [00:00:17] do it. Justin has starred as Peter Parker in the Broadway blockbuster Spiderman turn off the dark drew in rock of ages and was in the original cast of Bonnie and Clyde. Regional credits include West side story where he played Tony Baz, where he played Christian Love actually live where he played Mark Pippin, where he played Pippin. 

[00:00:39] The Rocky horror show, riff Raff, forever plaid, jinx, and many others. Developmental theater include brave new world and workshops for bliss. Joan of arc into the fire Oswald clown town, super you the view upstairs into the wild bat out of hell and many more. TV includes Jesus Christ superstar live on NBC. 

[00:01:04] law and order SVU, mr. Robot, Royal pains. And Delocated film include big exit storm chasers.  No one called ahead. Justin is developing a new musical with the band air supply, and has also performed across the country. Singing the music of queen with a live symphony. He holds a BFA in musical theater from the university of central Florida. 

[00:01:28] Justin that is a quick intro of who you are and what you’ve done, but why don’t you tell us a little bit more about yourself and fill in the gaps who you are, where you’re from, where you’re currently calling home and a little bit more about what you do as a professional in the entertainment industry. 

[00:01:45]Justin Sargent: [00:01:45] Of course. Uh, and I, I do want to preface this by saying that , my least favorite subject is myself. So, uh, I apologize if I, if I get too brief. To elaborate. I don’t mind, but I tend to truncate things. So please. If you, if you want to stay on top of me, I totally get it. Um, but, uh, yeah, so I, I grew up in, uh, the central Florida area. I grew up in Tampa Bay area. 

[00:02:08] I had moved to a new, a new town in the middle of eighth grade. And, um, as a way to kind of meet new people and kind of.  Integrate myself into a community. I joined the community theater  at the suggestion of, of my, my history teacher actually. Cause she was part of that political theater. 

[00:02:24] And so I auditioned for all of her and I fell in love with it and just, just kept going. And I think it does that in my 25 productions at the community theater, um, through my high school career for the next four years. And just. You know, like onstage offstage running the light board and sound board, all that kind of stuff, and just absolutely fell in love with the art form. And, um, and, and, you know, I had no, there’s no question. 

[00:02:47] Ended. That’s how I wanted to spend my life in my career. And so I, I, um, got to be a PE degree in musical theater from the university of central Florida. Like you said, And, , work at the theme parks there in Florida for a few years. Um, except for Disney Disney wouldn’t hire me. They said it was too edgy, whatever that means. Uh, I know, right. So, um, you know, uh, gosh, and so, so from there,  through a series of, , Extreme luck and circumstance was I’m sure we can get into a little later. Um, I ended up. Um, booking, uh, The understudy for Constantine rural it’s in rock of ages on Broadway after it had been open for about a year and a half or so. Um, And this is all happening,  kind of out of Orlando. And so, um, , I’ve moved to New York city and just kind of after nine months of living in the city, which is all of a sudden in this Broadway show, I was like, Whoa, what is happening? You know? And I. I had, I had long hair and I could sing rock music really high, and that was kinda my thing. And so it was just kind of right place, right time. And from there just kind of snowballed and, um, you know, I just kind of got really lucky with that foot in the door and. Um, from there, I’ve been fortunate enough to have taken over the role of  in that show. I’m playing that role for closest 600 performances. I think it’s, I think it’s like 550 performances. Um, yeah. Yeah. And then, um,  Spiderman to enough, a dark and it was running at the time. And so Reeve Carney was leaving the show. And so I auditioned and got the role of Peter Parker and left her operators to go to that show. And then. Um, when that show closed. Oh, and in between then. Uh, I, I did this very short lived show called Bonnie and Clyde. Uh, was it Frank Wildhorn show? Um, well, one of the shorter Broadway runs, it was thinking we did 30 performances after previews. Um, but it’s become something of like a Colt classic. Like I do a lot of masterclasses for kids like kids. For high school students and college students, they all know the show. They’ll love the show. I really like, cause we only ran for 30. What were you guys when we were running? You know, like why, why, why don’t you come see it? I got thing. and so, uh, yeah, so then Bonnie and Clyde Spiderman and then just, you know, For the last five or six years I’ve been, , um, my, my career path has been, , on the trajectory of starting off as an understudy in a swing and kind of taking over principle roles. And so now I’m really focusing the last. Five years on, um, , uh, originating a role. And that’s kind of been my passion in my path. And so I’ve been doing a lot of workshops, a lot of developmental productions of new shows. , um, we were two weeks away from rehearsals for a brand new show in which I was going to originate. My first role and COVID happened. And, uh, so that’s kind of a, it’s kind of a quick,  run through of, of my, my journey so far, but, um, , I’m sure. There’s, I’m sure there’s things that I missed.

[00:05:19] Dane Reis: [00:05:19] Totally. I love it. I love it. Well, let’s move on to this next section. And Justin, look, I am a sucker for a good quote. What is your favorite quote? You’d like to share with everyone.

[00:05:31]Justin Sargent: [00:05:31] It’s so funny, you asked that because my, so, um, I was born in Southern Illinois is, and, um, I moved to Florida and I was very young, but my, my family, most of my family still lives there. And my grandfather has like 38 acres of woods that he and his wife have. Made all these paths in and like kind of, you know, carved all these really cool paths and little nooks and crannies. And along those paths, they have taken different  plates and stop signs and like all kinds of like bizarre signed and they have. Posted quotes on trees all over those woods.  so you can kind of like go through these paths and, you know, you see all these really inspirational quotes. Some of them were funny and silly, but some of them, some of them are inspirational. And my favorite quote, Um, has always been, um, uh, don’t look behind you. You’re not going that way. You don’t look, don’t look back. You’re not going that way. You know what I mean? So it kind of,  is a reminder to stop. You know, focusing so much on the past and just really focus on,  what’s coming next and, always thinking forward. Um, and that, that, for some reason that it was just always. Has stuck with me that book.

[00:06:34]Dane Reis: [00:06:34] Absolutely. And are you able to maybe reference any specific time in your career where. That quote really played a part in your life.

[00:06:43]Justin Sargent: [00:06:43] Yeah. So, you know, one of the most difficult things for, for actors,  and I’m sure you know, this or performers in general is that when you audition for something. , there’s that. That nagging that, you know, question. Um, Oh my God. How did it go? I wonder how it, when am I going to get a phone call, this kind of thing. And so, when, when that kind of the anxiety comes up, I just, I remember that quote and it, and it really, it helps me kind of. , alleviate a little bit of that anxiety just kind of go, Nope, don’t worry about it. It happened. It’s done. Don’t focus so much on it. It’s in the past. Let’s think about the future. So , it’s kind of therapeutic in a way, you know what I mean?

[00:07:16] Dane Reis: [00:07:16] Yeah, absolutely. And you’re right. And it’s sometimes that is easier said than done, but , the more you practice it, the more you go, just let things go after they’ve done because. Really truly you can’t do anything about what’s already happened. So.

[00:07:28] Justin Sargent: [00:07:28] Oh a hundred 

[00:07:29] Dane Reis: [00:07:29] Just move on and try to get out of your head in the more you practice that the easier it gets.

[00:07:33]Justin Sargent: [00:07:33] Yes. Yes, exactly. 

[00:07:36] Dane Reis: [00:07:36] Well, let’s, let’s move on to the next section now. And Justin, of course you are an entertainer. I am an entertainer. And I think that you’d agree. This industry is one of the most subjective, brutally, honest, personally emotional industries in existence. And you know, as well as I, that in order to create and have a successful career in this industry, like you’re having now takes a lot. Of dedication and hard work. And while yeah, there is an outrageous amount of fun and excitement doing what we do. There are also our fair share of obstacles, challenges, and failures. We are going to experience and we’re going to have to move forward through. So tell us, what is one key challenge, obstacle or failure you’ve experienced in your career and how did you come out the other side better because of it.

[00:08:27]Justin Sargent: [00:08:27] A great question. I have a couple actually, um, one of my biggest obstacles. And, and I hope this isn’t taken the wrong way because I certainly don’t think that this is everybody’s journey. This just happened to be my, my journey. Um, when I was younger, I, I weighed, um, About a hundred pounds more than I do now. Um, all through high school, um, I was over 240 pounds as a 15 year old.  I played a lot of character roles, which I love doing it. I still love doing, I love, you know, riff, represented my favorite roles of all time.  I played nicely, nicely Johnson. In high school. Excuse me. Um, , and so those kind of funny, you know, chubby guy roles were, were the things that I kind of started me off in, in, in this business. And as I started to really want to explore. I don’t, I don’t want to, I hate to use the word leading man, because I it’s just such a pretentious term. I, you know what I mean? But like, you know, but unfortunately that is the term. Uh, , as I started to want to explore those roles, it dawned on me that I, I. There, there, there were no roles for leading men that were overweight and, , and even shows a hairspray, you know, that they’re, there were rules for, , this is amazing role for this young woman who is overweight as like, Oh, that is amazing. That’s awesome. But there were no goals for men , that were overweight. They all had to be slender and muscular and tall and all this kinda stuff. And I was like, well, okay. So  wanting to be as versatile as possible and wanting to be as, um, you know, kind of, I guess, marketable as possible. Uh, I had some advice that was given to me to lose the weight and I did, um, and I lost the weight too quickly. And so then I had a lot of. , kind of, you know, loose skin and stretch marks. And then, so then there was a whole new thing to kind of be concerned about when it, you know what I mean? It was, it was, it was a very, very tough obstacle to overcome it. I would actually say that it’s still something that, , um, I have a difficult time with , his body image. Um, and, uh, a lot of people, people that know me. They kind of think with really serious, because we would never have guessed that, but it’s definitely true. Um, And  , the other obstacles that I I’ve had to kind of deal with and still have to deal with is that I, I tend to fit in between a lot of different categories. Um,  it’s funny. I get this. This weird comparison to Aaron to vape. And then I also get this weird comparison to read Carney and I kind of fit somewhere in between them because I kind of look like. Both of them smashed together. In some weird way, you know what I mean? , but I say I primarily do rock musicals and like, that’s what I want to do. I want to do rock and rock musicals. I grew up. Listening to rock music. So I’ve got this weird kind of some specific thing that I’m trying to market, and I’m either to Aaron’s for that role or to. Read for this role, you know what I’m saying? Um, so it’s, it’s one of those things where it’s kind of led me down this path of, well, then I’m going to have to create my own role. So, you know what I mean? Because. Because it’s starting to get a little ridiculous Having to choose one of those paths to go down. Um, , uh, so yeah, , those are kind of the two largest obstacles I’ve had to face so far. Um, I hope that answers your question.

[00:11:23] Dane Reis: [00:11:23] Well, let’s move onto this next section into a time that I like to call your spotlight moment. That one moment in time you realized, yes, I am going to be an entertainer for living or maybe it was. Yes, this is what I need to be doing as an entertainer. Tell us about that.

[00:11:46]Justin Sargent: [00:11:46] So it was nine 11, quite honestly. Um, And I know that’s such a bizarre answer. But I, at that point I had been doing, community theatre for. About a year, year and a half. And we were doing you’re good, man. Charlie Brown. And, um, , it was  our opening night was, was on September 11, 2001. Um, it was our first performance with an audience and we decided to go ahead. And do the show. Um, it was a Tuesday night and we had a full house and, , I was to really, I think I was too young to really understand what, what it meant to have, like the cathartic experience of going to the theater and escaping from. The realities of the world. I kind of always knew what that meant, but  on a day, like September 11th, it was something that these, these people needed and we needed as performers to be able to. To go through it, especially with such a charming show. Like you’re a good man, Charlie Brown. It’s so lovely and sweet and  uh, you can just kind of. You sit there and smile and just enjoy yourself for two hours. Um, and that night I remember going, well, this is like, not only did I give myself something to escape too, for a little while in the midst of a national tragedy. Um, but also this audience of, you know, You know, I think 250 people in this small community theater. Um, they, they were laughing and they were enjoying themselves. And.  they probably went home and cried and then, you know, and like it had, it had to had to deal with the reality of the day. , but for,  a couple of hours there, , it was an escape. And I remember thinking, wow, that’s pretty powerful. And I want to do that for the rest of my life. And you know, if, if, if I’m performing in a theater where there’s 1600 people sitting there and one person out there is going through some kind of. , unimaginable, personal tragedy. They may be there because they need to escape for a little bit. And I really enjoy being a part of what provides that escape for them.

[00:13:43]Dane Reis: [00:13:43] Yeah, I love that. And I think there’s  quite a bit of relevancy in what you said about needing to,  find that escape from reality and live theater. In general, I think does that better than Netflix? Netflix is great. Right. But

[00:13:59] Justin Sargent: [00:13:59] Come on tiger King. Come on man.

[00:14:01] Dane Reis: [00:14:01] Yeah, but being there with real people was huge. And, you know, we can look at our time right now amongst all of this COVID stuff. And. 

[00:14:08]I know that there is, you know, the logistics of putting a bunch of people into a theater, and then there’s the issue of a theater actually being able to be profitable. If you are cutting . Their house by two thirds. And it’s, there’s all sorts of things. To battle logistically, but I think that there is a definite underplay of what it is to be an essential business in this country. And. I think entertainment takes a much higher.  level than I think a lot of people. Are willing to admit to themselves.

[00:14:38]Justin Sargent: [00:14:38] Yeah. I mean, absolutely. You know,  it is interesting that there’s, there is a. There’s a bizarre. The arts and entertainment are disposable, you know, forms of, uh, the things that the things. They are not, they’re not necessarily, I mean, The funding for the arts as a joke, you know what I’m saying? And so, but, but what happens when, when there’s a pandemic and people are sick at home, they turned to the arts. And I know that that’s an argument that’s been made over and over again. And some people find it silly, but I certainly don’t. I mean, If everybody that I know, uh, or see I’ve seen on Facebook that is, but even people that aren’t involved in the arts at all like that, I went to high school with. They’re all, watching movies and watching TV shows and.  reading books and, . This is the arts. This is what you turn to in times of crisis.

[00:15:21]Dane Reis: [00:15:21] Yeah, absolutely. Well, let’s piggyback on that spotlight question. And let’s talk about your number one, booked it moment. Walk us through that day, the auditions and call backs. If they happen to be a part of it, what was going on in your life? And what about that moment? Makes it your favorite? Booked it moment.

[00:15:44] Justin Sargent: [00:15:44] So my mind is actually a little bittersweet because, um,  um, When I was originally called in for Spiderman read, we still in the show and they had not announced that he was leaving yet. So I was auditioning for his standby is what I, what technically I was auditioning for. And so I had, I had booked that, that role. And the.  kind of, uh, off the table discussion was well read, leaving the show and you will take over for him. However. Um, when they announced he was leaving the show. They decided that there was going to be a nationwide search for the next Spiderman. So the next Peter Parker. And I was like, Whoa. You know, why? Wait a minute now. I thought, I thought this was, and so, you know, of course there’s no contract. There was no nothing. You know, as far as like me taking over for Riva officially in an official capacity. You know, I was still technically. going in to be the standby. And so, um, at that point, 

[00:16:40]it was a little up in the air. And so I was on my honeymoon, um, and it was in Greece and we, , we didn’t have. You know, great access to the internet. And it was like our second to last day there, after being there for, , I think it was like 10 days and I finally got the message that it had. been made official and , that they are we’re officially going to offer me , uh, the role and not just the, you know, the, the standby. 

[00:17:03] Dane Reis: [00:17:03] Oh, right. 

[00:17:04] Justin Sargent: [00:17:04] Okay. Awesome. You know, and it was, it was a huge relief, but  for those. For those, you know, eight days before that, on my honeymoon, which was amazing. I had this little bit of this nagging thing in the back of my head. Wasn’t really hard to let go of and like that quote. Wasn’t working for me, you know, don’t Don’t look in the past. Don’t look back because. He was just kinda one of those things. It was such a, a big impersonal.  Spider-Man fan. And so like, it was such a huge deal for me. And so it was hard to kind of , forget about that. On my honeymoon. And so, um, I think God, I have such an amazing and wonderful partner and she totally understood. And  if there was an opportunity for me to connect to the internet, she’d be like, yeah, sure. Go ahead. Let’s check your messages. Let’s see. You know, so she, you know, thank goodness was, was very, um, understanding. Um, but yeah, that, that was like that moment where I finally got that word and just like it, I it’s, it’s funny. Cause you, you mentioned the book didn’t already. Is she, I just got a message from my manager that just had booked it. I was like, Oh yeah.

[00:18:01] Dane Reis: [00:18:01] Oh, yeah.

[00:18:02]Justin Sargent: [00:18:02] Yeah. So it was, uh, like I said, it’s kind of bittersweet because. I wish I had found out eight days prior, so I could have really, you know, really, really enjoy about hiding to its full. Potential.

[00:18:13] Dane Reis: [00:18:13] Yeah, absolutely. I love that. And I can only imagine how nerve wracking that would it be and just kind of just that. That uncertainty, because I can imagine at that point, you’d already done so much of the work. 

[00:18:25] Justin Sargent: [00:18:25] Yes. Yes, exactly.

[00:18:27]Dane Reis: [00:18:27] Wow. Well, I’m glad it all worked out. That’s amazing. And Oh, let’s take a moment to talk about the present. What projects are you working on now? What are you looking forward to? And we’ve talked about a little bit. We are amidst this global pandemic. How do you see the entertainment industry moving forward in the next couple of years?

[00:18:49]Justin Sargent: [00:18:49] Great question. So, you know, I’m, I’m currently, uh, so, so the show that I was, uh, Um, and about to start rehearsals for is called super you. Um, and it’s been in development for nearly a decade now, and I came on last year. To, um, Roll that they’ve kind of had, they just haven’t really been able to find exactly what they want the role to be. And so when I came in and auditioned, I brought something, I guess, , wholly unique that they. They didn’t, they didn’t exactly know what they wanted. So when I came in the room and gave my interpretation of their material, they were like, Oh, that’s what we want. So I got to have that moment of , Oh my God, I’m going to get to do this. I’m going to get you to actually create something that’s coming from me and collaborating with this amazing creative team. And so. Um, it’s, it is a phenomenal, uh, rock musical, all about this young woman who, um, Is a, an incredible comic book artist, and , her and her brother grew up, um, kind of using, uh, um, comic books and Ellis and illustrating, um, It come up with characters to deal with the hardships of their life. Their, their parents, um, you know, died in, in a, in a tragedy when they were young and they were going through foster care and she was bullied in school. And her older brother. kind of inspired her to start writing her own comic book heroes, , cause he had his own that he was working on it. So she created these six, um, You know, uh, comic book, he, uh, all female comic book heroes that, um, were kind of aspects of her personality in her life that were, um, Things that she didn’t naturally possess that helped to bring, bring those things. Uh, from inside of her outwards, you know, and then, and then tragically, he, he dies in a car accident. Her brother dies in a car accident. And so, so all those. All that work and, and, and that, that kind of creative side of her just goes away. And all those amazing aspects of her personality and her courage and her strength, they just kind of disappear. And she then meets this struggling musician who is just dealing with his own failures and, and she starts,  kind of giving herself.  fully to him instead of really focusing on herself and, um, As that’s happening, her comic book creations, come back to her. And remind her, um,  what she had fought so hard for To come to realize and, and kind of , built her back up and this really, really powerful way. And of course, by the end, she’s fully realized, you know, once again and just like. You know, it’s a beautiful story. It’s about dealing with loss and tragedy and how to overcome your, you know, your biggest anxieties and fears. And also it’s very empowering, uh, you know, uh, The story about a Atari women. , um, so I’m really, really excited about that. Especially having a daughter, you know, I mean, you know, and so it’s like, this is the kind of stuff I want to be working on. Um, and if you want to go to super you musical.com, you can find out all about that production. Uh, they’ve got a bunch of demos on there that are just killer. Um, and so we’ll, we’ll be back up and running as soon as we’re allowed to do like theater again in New York city, we are. We are on the, on the slave. We’re ready to go. So. That one I’m really excited about. Um, and then there’s another one. That I can’t really talk about, but there’s, I think that this is gonna be a press release either tomorrow or the next day, but it involves a very famous composer. In fact, probably the most famous composer of all time. Um, In, in a new musical about his life and his sister’s life. So, uh, I think that’s probably all I can say about that one.

[00:22:04] Dane Reis: [00:22:04] Brilliant. I’m looking forward to that. 

[00:22:06]Justin Sargent: [00:22:06] Yeah. 

[00:22:08] Dane Reis: [00:22:08] Well, let’s move on to one of my favorite sections in the interview. I call it the grease lightening round. I am going to ask you a handful of questions. I want you to answer them as quickly and concisely as possible one after another. Are you ready?

[00:22:24]Justin Sargent: [00:22:24] Okay, let’s go.

[00:22:25] Dane Reis: [00:22:25] Alright, first question. What was the one thing holding you back from committing to a career as an entertainer?

[00:22:32]Justin Sargent: [00:22:32] Nothing zero.

[00:22:33]Dane Reis: [00:22:33] Second question. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

[00:22:39]Justin Sargent: [00:22:39] Never stop learning.

[00:22:40]Dane Reis: [00:22:40] Love it. And the third question, what is something that is working for you right now? Or if you’d like to go pre COVID, what was working for you before our industry went on? Pause.

[00:22:53]Justin Sargent: [00:22:53] Ooh. Um, um, I would say some of that’s been working for me recently is saying yes, more often.

[00:22:58]Dane Reis: [00:22:58] Great. Yep. You got it. I think the S is definitely need to outwait the nose, right?

[00:23:02] Justin Sargent: [00:23:02] Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

[00:23:04]Dane Reis: [00:23:04] Perfect. . And the fourth question. What is your best resource, whether that is a book, a movie, a YouTube video up podcast, maybe a piece of technology that you found is helping your career right now.

[00:23:18] Justin Sargent: [00:23:18] Ooh. Ooh. Oh, you know what I have to, um, the first one is Udo. Hoggins nine questions. Uh, phenomenal. The second one is, uh, you can find that on YouTube. It’s a video of, um, Dick Cavett on the Dick Cavett show, interviewing Marlon Brando about why he is the world’s best actor. It is phenomenal.

[00:23:37] Dane Reis: [00:23:37] Brilliant. I’m gonna have to check that out.

[00:23:38] Justin Sargent: [00:23:38] and very uncomfortable for Dick Cavett, by the way. Because you told not to ask that question and  he gets an answer. He gets an answer. All right. It’s phenomenal.

[00:23:48] Dane Reis: [00:23:48] All right. Fifth question. If you had to start your career from scratch, but you still had all the knowledge and experience you’ve collected from your career in this industry. What would you do or not do, would you do anything differently or would you keep it the same?

[00:24:05]Justin Sargent: [00:24:05] Hmm. Um, I think I would mostly, I would, I would keep things the same. I think I would say yes, more often, earlier on.

[00:24:14]Dane Reis: [00:24:14] Great. And the last question. What is the golden nugget knowledge drop you’ve learned from your successful career in this industry? You’d like to leave with everyone.

[00:24:25]Justin Sargent: [00:24:25] always be professional, courteous, and always be on time or early. Always.

[00:24:31] Dane Reis: [00:24:31] Absolutely. If you’re not early, 

[00:24:34] Justin Sargent: [00:24:34] you’re late. 

[00:24:34] Dane Reis: [00:24:34] That’s it. And to wrap up this interview, it is time to give yourself a plug.

[00:24:40] Where can we find you? How do our listeners connect with you? Is there anything you want to promote?

[00:24:46]Justin Sargent: [00:24:46] Yeah. Sure. ,  um, you can follow me on Instagram. It’s at Justin M a Sergeant that’s at J U S T I N M S a R G E N T. and that’s, that’s really the best way to follow me. 

[00:24:58]Dane Reis: [00:24:58] Brilliant. And for everyone listening out there, I put the link to that in the description of this episode. Justin. Thank you so much for being here today. It has been an absolute pleasure to talk with you. 

[00:25:10]Justin Sargent: [00:25:10] It was such a pleasure such she’s so great. We connecting with you as well.