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Star Bar Spotlight: Sammy Gleason

October, 2010: Sammy has made quite a splash in the Springs, going from fresh-faced chorus standout to adept, versatile character actor in a few short years. He's currently inhabiting the role of Lucky in Star Bar's November 2010 production of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot, taking on one of the most difficult, unique roles in English-speaking theatre.

How long have you been doing theatre? About seven years now.

What was your first role? My first time onstage was an unscripted walk-on in TheatreWorks' production of The Cherry Orchard, with Leah Chandler Mills and the great Bob Pinney. My first speaking role was a year later, in Romeo and Juliet.

What was your most difficult role? Before I got this role I would have said Tobias in Sweeney Todd. Now, not so much.

What was your most rewarding role? Well, there were four of them, actually, in A Midsummer Night's Dream at TheatreWorks. That was my fifth show with [director] Richard Crawford; working with him was really a turning point in my relationship with theatre. He taught me a lot I didn't know about myself and my work.

Worst onstage mishap: Oh, do I have to choose? I have a few good ones... which, come to think of it, always seem to involve my slapping other actors. The first time I... I don't know how it happened, exactly. I just... got kind of carried away, I guess, during The Taming of the Shrew, and while my character was frantically trying to get another character's attention I... I just hauled off and slapped him. We were both pretty shocked. Another time I waved my arm and whacked another actor in the crotch.

Most Terrifying Moment: Preview night of A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum: we had finished the opening number and I had done my first solo. I was waiting in the wings to go on again; Sandy Bray came up to me and whispered "You're boring. You're fine during Comedy Tonight and then you go downhill, and I don't care about you. I don't want you to think about anything else except your character, and I want you to be present; we open tomorrow." First musical, first lead, first show at the FAC. I was mortified. Needless to say, I fixed it.

Funniest performance anecdote: Well, punching that actor in the crotch was pretty funny.

Theatrical High point: Playing Mickey in The Normal Heart with Upstart [Performing Ensemble]. It was my first deeply emotional role, and I'd had trouble being able to touch that during performance. Then, one night, something changed; these floodgates opened, and I was completely in the moment and outside of myself, watching. It was a revelation - one of the most terrifying, enervating moments I'd ever experienced onstage.

You as a performer in three words: Enthusiastic, definitely. Animated. Empathetic.

What do you want the audience to know about the current show? I think that lots of people have an idea of Godot as heavy and bleak. We hear 'existential crisis' and we think sadness, depression, boredom, but Beckett is much, much funnier than that. The human condition is hysterical.

Tell us three things about you that have nothing to do with theatre:

I stopped eating meat almost two years ago. A friend posted a PETA video on Facebook and that was that.

My bedroom/bathroom suite is painted the color of my favorite ice cream (mint chocolate chip).

In high school I started drinking soda pop with two straws, because I thought it got the soda in my mouth faster. Now I still do it out of habit, even though I pretty much consume my weight in soft drinks every day.

What's your Actor's Nightmare? I don't remember dreams very well. All I remember is thinking 'I'm screwed', and then waking up sobbing with relief that it was just a dream.