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Rock of Ages - Broadway

A rock musical with the greatest hits of the '80s.

Rock of Ages Star Justin Matthew Sargent on His Journey From ‘Tone-Deaf Geek’ to Juke Box Hero

Rock of Ages Star Justin Matthew Sargent on His Journey From ‘Tone-Deaf Geek’ to Juke Box Hero
Justin Matthew Sargent photographed by Jenny Anderson for Broadway.com at Bowlmor Lanes in Times Square

Age & Hometown: 27; New Port Richey, Florida

Current Role: Shredding guitars and singing sky-high riffs as Drew Boley, a Bourbon Room bartender and aspiring rock star in Rock of Ages.

Listening to You: Growing up in Florida’s Tampa Bay area, Sargent was raised on “a healthy dose of classic rock,” including the Who, the Beatles and Tom Petty—but the self-proclaimed “geek” was more interested in archaeology than becoming a rock star. “My parents used to ask me to stop singing along in the car because I was tone deaf,” the actor jokes. Sargent was content to learn about fossils and watch Jurassic Park until eighth grade, when switching to a new school left him feeling isolated. “My history teacher said if I joined the community theater it would be a good way for me to get a friend base,” he recalls. By the time Sargent’s parents introduced him to Tommy and Jesus Christ Superstar, the once tone-deaf nerd began channeling his inner rock god.

Oh, Rocky! While attending the University of Central Florida, Sargent found his adoring audience in an “underground grunge rock” production of The Rocky Horror Show. “I had this really cool Edward Scissorhands-type costume and we got to sex it up,” he recalls with a laugh. YouTube videos of Sargent’s performance went viral, and the actor was invited to star as Riff Raff at Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights. But it wasn’t until Sargent’s friends convinced him to try out for the high-profile new musical Spider-Man that he ever considered Broadway. “I auditioned for Julie Taymor [and the creative team], and they thought it might be a good idea if I moved to New York,” he remembers. “Six months later, my girlfriend Celine and I packed up with the dog and moved up here.”

Rock of Love: Sargent’s Spider-Man dreams never came to fruition, but the audition paved the way for his Broadway debut as a cover in Rock of Ages. After departing to appear as a swing in Bonnie & Clyde, the actor returned to the '80s jukebox hit last spring—this time, as a leading man. “It’s a dream come true,” he says of his first starring role. And how many young actors can say that they've gotten romance advice from a member of Twisted Sister? After meeting Sargent's girlfriend, Celine, Broadway vet Dee Snider said, “She's gonna be your rock, the person that stands by you and is gonna be there for you.” Taking Snider's words to heart, Sargent proposed to his girlfriend of five years…and Celine said yes! The couple will have a rockin’ wedding in September of 2013, full of headbanging Broadway wedding guests. “They’re such good people,” he says of the tight-knit Rock of Ages crew. “We’re a family.”

Click below to see Sargent rocking out as Riff Raff in his college production of The Rocky Horror Show!


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