MARK S. HOWARD Sam Simahk in “Sweeney Todd.”
Think of: Simahk has a physical resemblance to actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and emulates four-time Tony Award nominee Raúl Esparza as a musical-theater performer who puts physical storytelling ahead of vocal pyrotechnics.
What caught our eye: After earning his BFA in musical theater from Emerson College in 2010, he’s been a regular presence on the Boston stage in recent years with prominent roles in “Big Fish” at SpeakEasy Stage Company, plus “Into the Woods,” “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” and currently “Sondheim on Sondheim,” all at Lyric Stage Company.
Lightbulb moment: Acting “was something I always felt I was better at than anything else, and I enjoyed doing it more than anything else. I figured I could give it a shot and see what happened.”
Biggest thrill: “Being in performances and bouncing that energy back and forth between the performer and the audience is amazing, but I love rehearsal. You’re all trying to find this story together and figure out the best way to tell it.”
Biggest surprise: “Honestly, it’s always still a little surprising when I get cast in something or when I get a good review. It’s a business where you need to have a certain amount of confidence in your own talents or otherwise you wouldn’t stick it out, but at the same time it’s always a little surprising, a little humbling.”
Inspired by: “Growing up, I was really inspired by the voice acting on ‘The Simpsons,’ especially Hank Azaria. I was amazed that one person could do all these things with his voice. That really got me thinking about the different dialects and accent work that I could do, and I started playing around with accents and dialects in middle school. These are things that have impacted what I do onstage now.”
Aspires to: “I don’t want to be famous. But I would love to be a regular, working actor. Years down the line I’m also thinking of going into education.”
For good luck: “I have a big pile of little mementos, tiny little props that were going to be thrown away that I held onto that remind me of certain shows.”
What people should know: “I am half-Asian — my dad’s Thai. People might look at me and say ‘He’s part Asian; I wonder how that’s affected his life?’ But culturally, no matter what I’m just a kid from the sticks of Massachusetts who grew up in the woods catching nightcrawlers with his best friend and trying to sell them on the street. I think everybody has their own individual culture and the petri dish that they grow up in. No matter what, I’ll always be this little hillbilly from the sticks.”
Coming soon: Simahk performs in “Sondheim on Sondheim” at Lyric Stage through Feb. 21, after which he’ll be traveling to Chicago in the spring for a role in a high-profile revival of a beloved musical (until the contract is signed, that’s as much as he can disclose).
JEREMY D. GOODWINJeremy D. Goodwin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.