Meet Our Three Cliffs
One of the great joys of the Elite Ensemble's production of Cabaret was seeing the three very different young men play three very different versions of Cliff... and all three versions were wonderful!
How different are Sawyer, Magnus and Ben? We asked all three the same questions and ended up with a surprising range of answers!
kANEWS: Gentlemen, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions for us. To start off, how long have you been involved with theatre? What have you done outside of kidsActing?
MAGNUS: I've been involved in theatre since I was five years old with acting camps and improv theater. I took any opportunity I had to perform - from school plays to playing Ralphie at Zach Scott’s A Christmas Story. I love acting!
BEN: I've been involved for about a decade now. I would put on little concerts with my little brother, who's doing Beauty and the Beast next year. I was a friggin' rock star as a 5yo. I made my TV debut at age four on The Biscuit Brothers Show. I didn't actually fall in love with the stage until 7th grade, at which point I met Blake, who plays Ernst. Back then, we were playing brothers, which was the only reason we became close (I was devoted to perfecting our stage chemistry, which is still identifiable onstage when we've shows together). Then I did Oklahoma with Kealing again the next year, and Cabaret my first show since. It's actually my first show with kidsActing, though I do wish I'd participated in earlier years. I hadn't even seen a kA show before auditioning.
SAWYER: I am fairly new to acting. When I was in 4th grade I had a small role as "Mr. Bundles" in ZACH Theatre's production of Annie. I also played O'Malley the alley cat in St. Gabriel's all school musical, The Aristocats in 5th grade. Other than those, it has been all Kid's Acting.
kANEWS: Congratulations on winning the role of Cliff. What was your initial reaction to getting the part and now that you are performing the role, has it met (or exceeded) your expectations?
SAWYER: I was really excited because it was my first "mature" production and I was super excited to get the role of Cliff Bradshaw. It has definitely exceeded my expectations!
BEN: I, if you haven't noticed, am still salty I didn't get to audition for the Emcee. I'd gotten stuck on the role, but I've grown as a person since Oklahoma, both physically and emotionally, so I think I'm better able to play deeper and older roles, both physically and emotionally. I honestly had little idea, being unfamiliar with the actual show itself, how deep Cliff's emotion truly runs, but as soon as I got up there on the first day and got to punch Blake in the stomach, I felt right at home in his skin. So, I'd definitely say he exceeded my expectations.
MAGNUS: I was really happy and excited get the role of Cliff. It is my first lead in an advanced production at kidsActing and it’s a real honor. My experience playing Cliff exceeded my expectations. It's such an eye-opening experience to play a bystander to the Nazi uprising and to look at the world from the perspective of a naïve American author.
kANEWS: What is the one thing you can say you've learned during the rehearsal period that you will be able to take with you to future productions?
SAWYER: During this production, I was less concerned of what other people thought of me. It allowed me to grow as the character and become Cliff Bradshaw. I'll definitely remember that for future productions.
MAGNUS: I learned that to truly emote as a character, you first must know your lines and your stage directions really well. Only then can you react to what is happening on stage from a fresh perspective and let the feelings come in. I feel I developed a lot as an actor and a singer through the extra coaching and training I got from very talented professionals in the Elite program
BEN: I think this show has been the most impactful for me throughout my entire experience. It is, of course, the most professional show I've done; but beyond the technicalities, I think I've grown the most as an actor with Cliff because he is the most dynamic character I've ever worked with. Additionally, the elongated rehearsal schedule allowed for true exploration of the character, which I normally am unable to complete; in a normal show I might do, I just get up there & work with my instincts. That was what happened with me for the first semester of rehearsals to some degree. But I started talking with Seth Ellington, one of our Schultz's, about life, etc., & I've found him to be the most insightful person to talk to about character development. He puts a lot of thought into each of his roles, which is something I don't do on a regular basis; I just am, & that's still more or less what happened with Cliff & me. I haven't changed my methods, I've merely stretched them, & I've picked up a trick or two along the way.
kANEWS: Bucket list time! Name two roles that you hope to perform sometime in your lifetime.
MAGNUS: Sometime In my lifetime I would love to play King George in Hamilton and Dr. Horrible in Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog.
BEN: Am I limited to two? I've about fifty on the extended list, but I've another shortened one that goes, in no particular order: a. Tevye (Fiddler on the Roof); b. Angel Dumott Schunard (Rent); c. Mark Cohen (Rent); d. MacBeth (MacBeth); e. Val Jean (Les Miserables). That's more than you asked for, but that's just how extra I am.
SAWYER: Alexander Hamilton, obviously! If/when they make La La Land a broadway musical, I'd love to play Sebastian. I would definitely need to work on my dancing!
kANEWS: What are your theatre plans for the near future?
BEN: I don't entirely know. I absolutely adore the cast and there are a lot of people that I want to do as many shows with as possible, but it really depends on what LASA is doing in the fall. If I can do both, and I wasn't able to last semester, I'd absolutely love to. It just isn't feasible, unfortunately.
MAGNUS: I have been accepted to the theatre program at McCallum Fine Arts Academy, which I will begin next year.
SAWYER: Beauty and the Beast at Kids Acting, and hopefully productions at St. Andrews School.
kANEWS: Alright, it's time to ask the one question we ask everyone we interview. What are the three things you like most about Austin?
BEN: I'm technically a Texan; my family has lived here for generations and is deeply institutionalized in the local culture, but honestly, I feel myself a New Yorker in mind and body. I can't do BBQ, a must for Texans, I can't beat the heat, and the mosquitoes will not stop. I just feel like I'd be much more suited for the social and physical climate of New York. So, I like my proximity to downtown and my ability to actually work in a theatrical environment like the one at kA. Not much other than that, to be totally honest.
MAGNUS: I love all the creative people that live here. The geography and architecture is very pretty. I also really enjoy our live music.
SAWYER: The vibe, Home Slice Pizza, and ACL.