Bruce Sabath may have graduated from Harvard and Wharton, but the Katonah actor has found his greatest success on the stage.
Beside a long driveway that leads to actor Bruce Sabath’s Katonah home sits a chicken coop, where a dozen orange-, brown-, and yellow-feathered hens peck at the ground and hop over fresh-laid eggs. Surrounded by four acres of green, it’s a bucolic setting where you would not expect to find someone set to spend much of his time on a Broadway stage. But that is exactly where 44-year-old Sabath will be when the anticipated revival of Stephen Sondheim’s TONY award-winning musical, Company, opens at the end of this month. But, come to think of it, what’s a Harvard mathematics grad and Wharton MBA doing on Broadway, anyway?
“I had always been jealous of people who knew what they wanted to be when they grew up,” the father of two says. “Since I didn’t, I pursued what I thought made sense and what I was good at, which was math and logic.” And, apparently, performing. Sabath says he performed in every school play and musical, but, due to his family’s strong beliefs, “conventional fields were the ones I saw on my horizon,” he says.
So he majored in applied mathematics at Harvard—but still sang and toured with the Harvard Din & Tonics—an acappella group, and after graduating in 1984, Sabath moved to Manhattan and worked for an accouting firm and then an investment bank before earning a master’s degree in business at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. “At the time, that’s what I thought I was supposed to do,” he says. Yet he continued to perform. While at Wharton, he starred in The Wharton Follies, an annual show featuring skits and songs about the business world.
In the world of business, however, he was miserable. “I just wasn’t fired up. I would look around and some people really seemed excited about their work. I wanted to be excited about mine, too.” One day his wife, Karen, asked: “If you could do anything you want, what would you do?” Without hesitation, Sabath answered, “Act.” “So why don’t you just do that?” Karen shot back, at the time a partner at a successful financial management company (today she’s a full-time mom).
Sabath quit his job and, for the next two years, studied acting and took voice lessons and dance classes. Soon he began working steadily: he performed in the national tour of Victor, Victoria and in Yonkers’ Untermyer Park production of Macbeth, before landing a role last spring in the Cincinnati production of Company. The production was so successful that the producers eventually brought the entire cast to New York. Company opens November 29.
Says Sabath about his career choice: “Once I thought about the possibility of becoming an actor, it seemed so obvious. I realized that all those people who knew what they wanted to be when they grew up, I actually was one of them.”