Faculty of Animation, Arts & Design
Degree: Music Theatre Performance
Year of graduation: 1991
As soon as he starts talking, Jason Barbeck may sound familiar — he’s the voice of the new 12 Sandwich and all of the Summer Drink Days campaigns for McDonald’s Canada, with ads running on televisions across the country. Amongst Barbeck’s numerous credits as an actor, producer, writer and director — as well as the co-founder of Reel Deal Guys Entertainment — one of the most important is his music theatre performance education from Sheridan.
“Your voice is such an instrument — it’s amazing how we take things for granted, but it’s such a part of being a performer,” he says. “Training is everything, because when you show up for the job, you get one shot and between 15 and 60 seconds to tell a story very quickly.”
Along with finding his voice, Barbeck says Sheridan honed his love of performing into a technical skill set that opened doors for his professional career. “I started my journey towards becoming a triple threat at Sheridan with raw talent but no experience,” he says. “They took a chance on me, and into the fire I went, in the midst of the brightest talent out there. Sheridan gave me the confidence to believe in myself.”
Barbeck remembers the mentors that shaped his talents, such as Greg Peterson (“he was fantastic with the one-on-one acting tutorials — he really looked into your soul and helped reveal who you were as an actor”) and Ron Cameron-Lewis, who took Barbeck under his wing when he showed up lost on the first day.
From Sheridan, Barbeck hit the road at Summer Stock at Cullen Gardens in roles as Moonface Martin and the Devil in Anything Goes. “It was a lot of quick changes and in one stage door and out the other,” he recalls. It was there that Barbeck learned the importance of stamina in theatre. “You need to be an athlete, and conserve your energy during the performance,” he says. “You have to be able to reach that little old lady in the back row as they trained us in theatre school.”
As the co-founder of Reel Deal Guys Entertainment, Barbeck helps actors to create demo reels to give them a step up in the industry, and commercial films such as Adam’s Testament (Barbeck is the writer and director of the movie). He has been in hundreds of commercials, and done everything in his 25-year career from day trading to hanging out of a speeding car firing blanks as a stunt double, and believes that the most important piece of advice that he received as an actor was to go out and live. “As a husband and father, I’ve lived a lot and am a much deeper person because of faith, life and family,” he says. “Once you get out of school, it’s crucial to go and experience life. Performance is about telling or revealing those truths.”
Learn more about Sheridan’s Bachelor of Music Theatre Performance