THE LEADING MEN: Justin Matthew Sargent and Jason Gotay, Spider-Man's Newest Broadway Superheroes

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08 Nov 2013

Gotay in concert

On the concert horizon, we will see Jason as "Vulnerable Spice" in Broadway Loves the Spice Girls
JG: [Laughs.] Yes! That's going to be a ridiculous night! [Laughs.] [Musical director] Ben Rauhala is a genius — not only in his conception of these concerts and how he decides to celebrate these artists, but also, his vocal arrangements are always amazing and surprising. I love getting to be able to collaborate with him on that. It's going to be such a fun night of some of the best singers on Broadway letting loose and just being silly and also…making really good music. I get to sing with four of the best male singers on Broadway, [Darren Bluestone, Max Chernin, Corey Cott and Ben Fankhauser], which is just a huge treat for me. And, yeah… "Vulnerable Spice" is something that we came up with because in every concert I seem to be pegged as the one singing a quiet, emotional ballad. [Laughs.] I mean, obviously, it only made sense that would be the role that I play… We're doing "Say You'll Be There," and then I think we're finishing up the concert with "Mama," so it will be a cute homage to mama's boys everywhere.

What was it like going up in the air for the first time in Spider-Man? Were you nervous?
JG: I was nervous going up in the air the first time — not because I didn't feel safe, but just because I had no idea what it was going to feel like. I had never been asked to do anything like that, and I never thought I was ever going to be hired to do any kind of flying or stunt-related [tricks]. But, I have to say that the first time I ever did it at my final callback, I had a blast, and I felt like a superhero immediately because how can you not feel like a badass flying around this theatre with one hand holding this wire and your body soaring through the air?

The Broadway shows you have been in, Bring It On and Spider-Man — they have very high stakes…
JG: Yes, and I think it's amazing when people try to stretch the limits of what's been seen on a Broadway stage before. I've been so lucky to be a part of Bring It On and Spider-Man because, visually and physically, they are both really pushing the boundaries of what we've seen in theatre. It's been so exciting to be a part of that. But, I do think that in any show you're doing that involves heavy movement — even if it's all on the ground — there's always going to be that risk factor to it. Bring It On and Spider-Man have extraordinary risk attached, [but] you're either going to do it with no fear holding you back or it's not a job for you. These guys that I've encountered in Bring It On and Spider-Man are some of the most courageous actors I've met, and they are just so brave. It's amazing to see what they do every night.

Gotay in Bring It On
photo by Craig Schwartz

Speaking of Bring It On, that show is like the "Where are they now?" of Broadway!
JG: [Laughs.] It kind of is, actually!

You're in Spider-Man, Ariana DeBose just finished her run in Motown, Elle McLemore is on TV in "Army Wives," Janet Krupin and Ryann Redmond are in If/Then (to name a few), and most of that cast made their Broadway debuts in Bring It On. What do you think was so special about that show?
JG: I think that we owe a lot of that to our incredible creative team, who saw a lot of raw potential in all of us. Even though most of us didn't have a lot of experience, I think they saw something in us that had potential to grow and flourish in this community, and I was so lucky that they saw that in me. I think that it was a really special group, and everyone was so different, but brought something so amazing to the table. It kind of exposed us to the industry in a really big way and kind of prepared us for what was to come. I think after that [show], we all felt like we had the momentum to keep going. [It's] really hard to top such an amazing experience, but I think that it was thanks to the creative team, who searched long and hard to find people who were right for that particular show… We owe a lot to them for giving us that first opportunity that allowed us to soar.

Aside from performing, you also teach musical theatre classes?
JG: I've been teaching since January — so almost for a full year — [but] since Spider-Man happened, I had to hold off. I had two different workshops back home in Brooklyn all set and planned, and then Spider-Man kind of threw a curve ball at me, so once I settle into the groove of the show after the holiday season, I'll [get] back into teaching a bit… Growing up [in Brooklyn], I worked at a performing-arts day camp in my neighborhood, and I always loved working with kids. After Bring It On closed, I was looking for teaching opportunities, and I collaborated with a community theatre in my neighborhood and came to them with the idea of doing a musical theatre workshop intensive. Over the course of six weeks, I coached students on contemporary musical theatre songs, which culminated in a showcase of their work for family and friends, which led to another showcase where we did musical theatre scenes and duets and some group stuff. I formed some really amazing relationships with them, and it allowed me to get better at what I do just by watching them learn. Because I am so young and some of my students are only a couple years younger than me, it was amazing to create an environment where we were all working together as opposed to a "teacher-student" relationship.

( staff writer Michael Gioia's work appears in the news, feature and video sections of as well as in the pages of Playbill magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @PlaybillMichael.)

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