An Interview with Actor Hal Sparks

By Visit Tallahassee

Performing in Shakespeare in the Park • May 6-9

Southern Shakespeare Company welcomes guest actor Hal Sparks of Showtime original series Queer as Folk and Disney’s Lab Rats to their 2021 Free Shakespeare in the Park Festival Production of Twelfth Night.

Taking on the role of Malvolio, Sparks ventures into the realm of Shakespeare for the first time since his high school days. When asked about his Shakespearean experience, the comedian recalled an acting teacher from his youth, who he described as a “Northshore Chicago Diane Wiest”:

“As comedians go, I’m fortunate that my acting teacher in high school gave me my work ethic… focused on me as an actor and not a comedian… I was already enjoying doing comedy at 16 years old – she made a strict point of making sure that I dealt with drama very well – we did pieces of Lear and the Scottish play…”

This is Sparks’ first time in Tallahassee, but his father was an architect who worked on Epcot and Hal spent many summers of his childhood in West Palm Beach and Singer Island. Attending rehearsals at first via Zoom and now in-person, Sparks had the following to say about how he is preparing for his role:

“Shakespeare is a lot of memorization, but the cues come naturally…. Well, Malvolio, he’s an arrogant ass so it’s kind of like the role I was born to play in a lot of ways – how would I put it – I have a comfortable ego….”

Sparks goes on to describe the arc of the character:

“The birth from a servant to a man is never going to be comfortable one – and so for me, when Malvolio says “I’ll have my revenge on the pack of you”, I don’t know that he’s pitiable at that point. He’s changed his life, he became Count Malvolio in that moment.”

Twelfth Night has one of William Shakespeare’s only, and very specific costume requirements, a scene where Malvolio appears before his lady in a pair of bright yellow stockings laced up with a black ribbon in a practice called “cross-gartering”. Meant to be a scene of the abject humiliation of Malvolio, Hal Sparks has had to don worse, “I was on Queer as Folk for five years, I’ve been spray tanned while wearing a sock.”

To watch Hal Sparks and the rest of the talented Southern Shakespeare cast in Twelfth Night, May 6-9th, reserve a seat or buy a ticket to the live stream on the Southern Shakespeare Company website, www.southernshakes.org/free-festival

 

 

-Hal Sparks Headshot Photo Courtesy of Gilles Toucas

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