Who says Knights can’t fly?
Justin Matthew Sargent, who graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2008 with a bachelor of fine arts degree in musical theatre, is soaring over New York City audiences in the title role of Broadway’s “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.”
Sargent got his start on Broadway rocking out to the biggest hits of the ‘80s as part of the cast “Rock of Ages” before suiting up for the role of the famous web-slinger. Read below to learn more about his time at UCF and his favorite part about playing Spider-Man.
When did you know you wanted to act?
I was 14 and had just moved to new town. My English teacher recommended I join the local community theatre to integrate myself into the community, so I auditioned and was cast in “Oliver!” at Richey Suncoast Theatre in Pasco County. During my high school years, I performed in more than 30 productions between the various local community theatres and school shows. I knew this is what I wanted to do, and I never looked back!
What was your first experience acting in front of an audience like?
Oh man, I wish I could remember. I can say that it’s always been a comfortable and natural experience. Public speaking, however, is a different story!
What was your experience like at UCF?
I loved going to UCF! In the old days, the theatre department was mostly “off campus”. Most of our classes were in the tech center. I lived in Lake Claire and Nike in a tiny, TINY, little room.
How did you get your start on Broadway?
I had auditioned for “Spider-Man” in Orlando, and the casting associates at Telsey + Company had me fly to New York for the final callbacks. After the callbacks, Bernie Telsey told me I should think about moving to New York.
Six months later, I was living on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. A few months after that, I auditioned for “Rock of Ages” and was cast as a swing, understudying Constantine Maroulis. I was then cast in “Bonnie and Clyde,” which only ran for 30 days. After that I received an offer to take over the lead in “Rock of Ages” and played the role of Drew for a year and a half until I got the call from “Spider-Man.”
Were you a Spider-Man comic/movie fan before your involvement with the Broadway production?
Yes, a huge fan. My parents actually sent me a care package with some of my old comics and action figures that are now decorations in my dressing room.
What’s the adrenaline rush like when flying over an audience?
It’s probably the closest anyone will ever get to actually feeling like Spider-Man. The look of pure joy on my face is NOT acting!
What’s the coolest part about being Spider-Man?
Wearing the suit and flying over the audience. At one point I land on a platform on the first balcony, and they always have a few kids seated there. Seeing their faces light up is the highlight of my day.
What do you like to do for fun when you’re not on stage?
There are thousands of new and fun experiences to have every day in this city, and I try to fill my time with new things to do, but ultimately I’m a homebody. I love to be at home or at the gym in my neighborhood where there are no tourists. I spend most of my time in classes, auditioning or doing press events. I haven’t had a day where I’m not doing something related to the business in months. When I’m not in a show, I love to travel.
What do you love most about your job?
It’s always changing, and it’s always a challenge. I am my business. The things I do and say, what I wear, the places I go, and how I spend my time are all reflections of my business. It’s a strange and unique field, but it’s always a thrill ride, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
If you could have one superhero power, what would it be?
I’d want to be able to move objects with my mind. I’d never leave the couch!