By Chris Heide
Chosen recently had the opportunity to speak with Melvin Abston, who is playing Sebastian in the 5th Avenue Theatre's upcoming production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid.
What is your favorite thing about playing Sebastian?
“He is an iconic character. Some of the most memorable songs that people recognize come from this character. I feel that, in a lot of ways, he is the heart of the show. Even though Ariel is the star of the show, Sebastian is something of a conduit for the audience. He echoes the feelings of the audience and experiences the journey with them”.
What do you want audiences to know about this production?
“It’s unlike anything they have seen before. The show is filled with many iconic moments from the movie, but there is more. It’s a combination of old and new, with plenty of fresh songs and moments for the audience to discovery. It’s an exciting thing to be a part of!”
What is your favorite song from the show?
“It would definitely be ‘If Only’. It is a beautiful ballad sung by four of the characters. It explores the idea of missed opportunities and the possibilities of life. It is a song that is completely relatable. It’s something that definitely echoes the audience’s own personal experiences in life”
How do you real life experiences influence you work?
“I want all of my work to be accessible to my family. I never want my family to be ashamed of something I’ve done. I am a father and that always influences my professional choices. I often ask myself, will my kids benefit from this? It’s important for me to play characters who go through a journey. If I am playing a villain, I want that character to experiences consequences as a result of his choices. If I am playing a good guy, I want that character to experience success. Again, these are the kinds of roles that I want to play. Roles that teach my children the life lessons that I believe. I want my family to be able to take something away from the characters they see me play.”
Why do you feel theater is beneficial to the world?
“Theatre is a great escape from the realities of the world. Audiences need to be distracted. It’s very apropos for the events of this week. In terms of the election, I feel that everyone needs time to adjust. Everyone has the potential to lead a good life. More importantly, the people who are struggling need to stick together. Those who are doing well need to share their gifts with those who are struggling.”
You’ve guest starred on quite a few television shows. Which role was your favorite?
“My favorite role was the recurring character I played on Weeds. He was a foul mouthed and an extremely salty police officer. At the end of the day, he ended up doing the right thing.”
What inspires you?
“The ability to be able to pull the curtain back so that people can have an experience. That inspires me. To be able to provide people with an escape is a gift. I am largely inspired by the ability to be able to learn and grow. If I am learning and growing, then I am truly living. At the same time, I am inspired by sorrow. I think that when we embrace sorrow and sadness, we have more appreciating for the gifts in life.”
MELVIN ABSTON (Sebastian) 5th Ave: Memphis (Delray). Broadway: Sister Act. Nat’l Tour: Lion King, Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Sister Act. Regional: ZACH Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, Pasadena Playhouse, TUTS and Goodman Theatre. Film/TV: Solace, Gotham, Chastity Bites, Raising Hope, Chuck, recurred on Grey’s Anatomy, H+: The Digital Series and Weeds. VO: Verizon Wireless, South Park Studios and The Prince of Peace. Proud member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA, prouder father to Jaron, Stevie and Krystina!