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An Interview with Jeffrey Sanzel


How did you get started in theater?
I've been in the theatre since I was a kid.
My first professional  performance was as
Henry in THE FANTASTICKS for a group
called Artistic New Directions.

What hooked you? Was it your first school
play-movie-first time seeing a Broadway Show?
What inspired you to be where you are today?
I can't remember ever wanting to do anything
other than be in the theatre.  I didn't actually see
my first Broadway play until I was a senior in
high school.

What was the first play you ever saw?
Probably SNOW WHITE AND SEVEN DWARFS at a local community theatre.

Ever performed in? 

Did you study acting? 
I didn't study acting until college.


What was your first audition?
I did a lot of middle school, high school, and teen theatre.  My first non-teen production was a summer theatre DAMN YANKEES--I played Applegate.   I had always wanted to play the role and the opportunity came along.

Speaking of pre-casting, tell us how you really feel about the subject.
Since I am predominantly a director, I see pre-casting as a necessary evil.  Too many times have we waited to see who comes down and been both disappointed by the turn-out and choices as well as losing an ideal performer.  There are many actors who get booked-up early--often a year or more in advance.  If you want them, there's no choice but to pre-cast.

What types of parts do you normally play?
Characters, old men and villains.

Do you feel typecast? 
I have no problem with type-casting.  I don't believe every actor can or should play any and every role.


What is your approach to developing your character?
I'm a great believer in immersion as both a director and actor.  I believe in doing as much research on the play, the era, the characters, etc., as possible.  I believe, that while it's best to work inside-out, if you don't have a sense of the period and the style, the performance will ring false, no matter how much internal life there is.

Of all the characters you have portrayed, who is your favorite?

What roles offered you the greatest challenge and why?
I think Finklebaum in THE PUPPETMASTER OF LODZ.  Playing a reclusive Holocaust survivor in 1950 Berlin offered as many challenges as I possibly could have. 

How well do you think you met the challenge?
Looking back, there are a great many things I would do differently.  I also was too young at the time.

What role do you wish you could have a second shot at and get it right this time?


What motivates you to keep on doing what you're doing?
I wouldn't do anything else.

During opening night jitters each one of us has said, "Why do I do this to myself?" Why do you do it?


What was your worst theater experience?
I ran a summer theatre in Provincetown.  It was miserable from first to last.


Why do you perform at the theaters you do?
I have been with Theatre Three full-time for the past eleven and a half years.

Do you think regional theater will continue to grow on L.I.?


How do you maintain your career and do theater?
There's no difference.


When you reach the pearly gates what do you want St. Peter to say?
Rehearsals start tomorrow morning ...


If you also direct, which do you prefer and why?
Directing is my career.

Jeff as Ebenezer Scrooge