Native Houstonian Paul Sabala did what any musical theater actor dreams of doing—he hitched up his wagon (literally, since he was taking off from Oklahoma at the time) and headed to New York City with hopes of making it big. He graced the stage in productions like The Wizard of Oz, All Shook Up and Camelot after studying at the Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre at the University of Oklahoma. Now, Sabala has found a new home and a new show, heading to the glitz and glamour showbiz mecca of Las Vegas to perform in the hit Broadway show Jersey Boys as Joe Pesci (yes, that Joe Pesci). We chatted with the actor about his adopted city and about the show which runs through the end of the year at Paris Las Vegas.
Houstonia: Spending time in NYC on stage is a dream of so many performers. Were you always active in musical theater?
Paul Sabala: Actually, not really. I started in boys choir in middle school and lived for the spring showcase, but was never really deeply involved in it. It wasn't really until my senior year of high school that I considered making it a profession. I looked around and saw that it's something I do better than other things.
You traded the concrete jungle of NYC for the sprawling desert town of Las Vegas. What are some major differences in the cities?
Theatrically, nothing. Both are known to be big performing arts cities. Living-wise, they're completely different. I got so used to walking everywhere in New York and now here in Vegas, everything is so spread out.
You're a featured actor in Jersey Boys, a new classic for musical theater. How exciting is it to be part of this show?
I haven't really done a show like this. Telling a story through music, through this lens, is really exciting. People know these songs, they know them as pop songs that mean so much. It's a truly nostalgic experience for audiences.
Do you have your own memories of listening to the Four Seasons?
My dad always had the oldies on so I have this certain connection with their songs, but the story was completely foreign to me. It's interesting how these guys revolutionized music with their own original songs and stories.
Speaking of memories, anything you miss most about being in Houston?
I miss the landmarks mostly. The Water Wall by the Galleria sticks out to me. And also the space. I mean, I get a lot of space now in Vegas, but after living in New York, I missed the space you get in Houston. It's very cozy there in Houston.