Actress doesn’t forget hometown theater
November 22, 2006
The dazzling lights of New York City haven’t blinded Faith Sandberg’s view of the Egyptian Theatre.
"I love this little theater," Sandberg said. "It’s a small theater, but it has huge ambition and a huge heart."
Sandberg who played Little Sally in "Urinetown" and received her second Edwina award for best leading actress last week, will soon make her second holiday appearance in "White Christmas."
"I now have two of them prominently displayed on my table, ready for Thanksgiving," joked Sandberg, who won her first Edwina for her performance in the 2002-2003 production of "Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat."
Sandberg has been coming back to Park City regularly since she started a successful career in the Big Apple.
"I’m pretty partial to the Egyptian because it’s the stage I grew up on," Sandberg said. "I was doing shows before the renovation in 1998 with the rickety stairs and the scary dressing rooms. You just never forget your first playground."
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After graduating from high school in Park City, where the acting bug bit her, Sandberg traveled to Europe to pursue a career on stage.
"It started in high school, then I went to the Performing Arts Conservatory in the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts. It was Paul McCartney’s school. He renovated it and made it a state-of-the-art facility. It was really exciting."
Afterwards, she concluded her education at the Webster Conservatory in St. Louis where she received her bachelor of fine arts in musical theater. Her talents were sought after and she had a year of contracts set up for her across the country after graduation.
"Finally I got to New York about a year after," Sandberg said.
Now, Sandberg feels like she is in the thick of the acting hub, and she hopes to continue her success, while she continues to play in other regions of the country
"Musical theater actors are constantly traveling," Sandberg said, "but I call New York my base."
She is currently going to lots of auditions and doing commercials. She said she recently recorded a song for "A Wonderful Noise," a new musical through New Dramatists, a company developing and producing many productions in New York.
"Any actor wants to be continuously working," Sandberg said. "I’m sort of a workaholic."
Sandberg has been lucky. Actors often have periods of down times when buying food is not always a given.
"I haven’t hit that point," she said. "I’ve been pretty blessed with consistent work. I had some living situations that were unique, but I feel really blessed."
Her work does not always include acting on stage, however. She, like many actors, has to venture to different areas to make ends meet.
"I do commercial work, which sort of supplements it. I’ve modeled for jewelry" Sandberg said. "I share a feeling with other actors of ‘where’s the next (paycheck) coming from?’ It’s never laid out for actors. You really never know. There’s constantly that feeling of, ‘I can win the lottery tomorrow,’ and it’s kind of addicting."
It’s not her only addiction, however.
"I’m sort of addicted to storytelling," Sandberg said. "I think there’s a real need for storytelling in society. Throughout time, we have learned through parallels. It’s an important part of society to tell our stories and pass them on to younger generations."
Sandberg hopes "White Christmas," which is targeted to families, will introduce younger kids to theater and will spawn a love similar to hers.
"Film has sort of taken over the medium of the day," Sandberg said. "If you can capture that imagination of a child in a theater, there’s nothing more powerful than that. To be in the story and be in the action and being moved through this journey with everybody in the room is really exciting."
"It’s a different experience with live actors just feet away from you. It’s a different and important experience," Sandberg said.
To build a career in acting, actors face a myriad of challenges. One challenge Sandberg faces is the intense competition in New York.
"There’s such a talent pool here and you have to fight for what you get," Sandberg said.
Although busy at work in the big city, Sandberg continues to return to her "first playground." When the Egyptian asked her to come back for "White Christmas, she thought it would be a great opportunity.
"My mother loves it when I’m in town and employed here for a few weeks," Sandberg said. "I just love to have any excuse to come up in the mountains. My family has been in the area for about 16 years. I love getting away from the city for the holidays."
Other actors she meets across the country regard acting in Utah with respect, Sandberg said.
"I meet actors and I tell them where I’m from and their eyes light up and say ‘It’s beautiful there.’ A lot of actors want to get out of the city. Actors want to do good work for savvy audiences and work in a beautiful setting."
It’s not only the setting that makes Utah and Park City a desired location, but the quality of actors and productions is also rising.
"The talent pool has grown here," she said. "You can do some high-level stuff. Now that the talent pool has grown in Utah, it has attracted other players."
Sandberg said she is meeting more and more people who live in New York and travel back to Utah for shows. One of them is Jeff Hemmingway who will be starring in the Egyptian’s "The Who’s Tommy."
"He is a friend I bump into in New York," Sandberg said. "There are a handful of other people that go back and forth."
Sandberg said actors are like gypsies and travel across the country following gigs. Even if she didn’t grow up with the Egyptian, she still would consider it among the top places to perform.
"I’ve worked in all different calibers of theaters and you just cannot replace the heart and soul of a theatre. I feel that with the Egyptian, and its growing." Sandberg said.
The Egyptian is smaller than many venues she’s performed in, but that doesn’t limit the type of production it can create.
"That has advantages as well," Sandberg said. "It’s a very intimate space. With ‘Urinetown’ I was reminded how it works, and the audience was able to catch every detail and the sound can carry through the whole building."
The Egyptian is planning even larger performances through 2007, which excites Sandberg.
"The Egyptian is really expanding and including more technical aspects," Sandberg said. "It makes it fun for the actor.
"I just hope people continue to support the Egyptian," Sandberg continued. "Dana (Durbano) is doing some amazing stuff with the theater. I’m very proud to say I’m working at the Egyptian. I hope Park City realizes what they have."
Ivan Berlin’s "White Christmas" will run from Nov. 24 through Dec. 30 at the Egyptian Theatre. All patrons who have purchased tickets for "A Broadway Christmas Carol" will be able to transfer their tickets to the new show. For more information, call the box office at 649-9371.