Being forced indoors, and then realizing how toxic endless social scrolling can be, I started getting back to just plain being creative. No plan, no goal, just do some shit. I like how it feels. Here are some of the fruits of my labor:
One of my first post-high school acting gigs was Jay in YONKERS at the Theatre Guild, so this is a really special part for me. A guy named Jerry Rannow played Uncle Louie–legend has it he used to write for Welcome Back Kotter, among many other accolades. Gramma was played by the inimitable Hilda Greenquist, whose picture is in the men’s dressing room to this day, whose husband has an entire wing of UW-Parkside named after him, and whose grandson is allegedly the one and only Kip Winger. I saw elementary school pics of Kip in Hilda’s apartment at an after show party back in the early 90s. I’ll never forget the smirk on Hilda’s face when I asked about him.
Show runs September 13th – 29th. Tickets go on sale July 1. Tell Hollywood Harry you’re coming, and there won’t be any trouble.
When I heard that the Racine Theatre Guild was doing WAIT UNTIL DARK for the 2018/19 season, I knew I had to audition. There are three great villains in the show, and how often do you get a chance to play a villain? Many of the shows I’ve done don’t have a classic “protagonist/antagonist” dynamic; most of the drama and story arc come from character developments. You hardly ever get to play Vader and Skywalker or Lecter and Starling. So when you do, it’s pretty thrilling. So I’ve had DARK in my sights for a year.
Lo and behold, the theater gods saw fit to bestow upon me the main villain in DARK: Harry Roat, Jr. I couldn’t be more excited. If you’ve seen the classic 1967 movie version, you know Alan Arkin did a startling and subtle portrayal of Roat, and you know that Audrey Hepburn was nominated for an Oscar for her role as the blind heroine Susy Hendrix. (A further bit of trivia: Robert Duvall played Roat on Broadway. Swoon!) Not only that, but RTG did it 22 years ago, and I saw that production… A local legend named Todd Johnson (uncle of my good friend Zachary Scot Johnson) played Roat back then. Todd had just played my father in LOST IN YONKERS, and was the inimitable Mr. Frank in my first RTG show DIARY OF ANNE FRANK. And we all know the best movies are the ones with really good villains: the aforementioned “Star Wars” and “Silence of the Lambs” stick out, but there’s also Heath Ledger in the “Dark Knight,” Javier Bardem in “No Country for Old Men,” Gary Oldman in “Leon: the Professional…” The list goes on and on. So heading in to this role, I felt the weight of those who had gone before me.
I won’t bore you with my process or the backstory I came up with (but take me out to coffee and I’ll answer anything). I will say that one of my main inspirations for Roat was a real-life killer named Richard Kuklinski. He’s got hours of interviews on YouTube, and I found him very chilling. And this production’s director Mike Clickner told me very early on that as a villain, you never shout, because that gives everything away. Keep some cards close to the vest. So that’s what I’ve attempted in this role: chilling and menacing without yelling and screaming. I’ll leave it to you to decide how well I’ve done.
I have one last note before I give you the ol’ ticket-buying link. I somehow talked one of my closest friends into fulfilling a lifelong dream of his and auditioning for a role in a play, and he got a part as Cop #1. I’ll say it here and now for the record: he is honestly great. He only has 4 lines, but he’s put more effort into those lines than I’ve seen other actors put into an entire show! And if you really want to fall in love with your craft again, watch a rookie. It’s like seeing the world through a kid’s eyes, and it is so much fun!
I have just been cast in WAIT UNTIL DARK at the Racine Theatre Guild. I will be playing Harry Roat, a role originated on Broadway by Robert Duvall and onscreen by Alan Arkin. Audrey Hepburn played Suzy Hendrix in the movie and was nominated for an Oscar for her performance. We’ve got a stellar cast for this thriller–don’t you dare miss it! Show runs February 22 through March 4.
Finally, my band Rainy Day Crush will be making a rare appearance in Kenosha on February 9. This is an exciting time for the band… We’ve just signed contracts to license our music for use in several TV shows and channels. Stay tuned for more info there!
I cannot put in to words how excited I am to be cast as Master of Ceremonies in CHICAGO at the Greendale Community Theatre in Greendale, WI! Saw a production of SHREK there this past summer, and they do a really great job! It’s an honor to be a part of that level of quality. And of course CHICAGO has some of the best music ever! Show runs two weekends in January, from 1/10/19 to 1/19/19.
There are lots of other things coming up, but details are sketchy, so I will post later. One thing I will say is that next August, I am planning a solo art show at the Dandelion Gallery. First solo show in quite some time, so I am ecstatic! My plan is to have only all new work, never seen before.
A friend posted this great non-partisan resource to help you learn about politicians and ballot measures in your area. Please get out there and vote, and go in there with a little knowledge about the people on the ballot.
“Lombardi” opens at the Racine Theatre Guild on October 19, and runs for three weekends through November 4. I am playing legendary Green Bay Packers halfback Paul Hornung. He was known to the public as The Golden Boy, but his teammates referred to him as Horn or Goat. A member of the Pro Football and Packers Hall of Fames, he set records that still stand today.
This is a challenging role, as I’ve never played a non-fictional character before. The play itself is fiction, following the exploits of crack reporter Mike McCormick as he follows the 1965 Packers in an effort to write a piece on the larger than life Vince Lombardi.
What attracted me to this play was the fact that it will be seen by a lot of people who might not be regular theater fans, and I’m excited by the idea of performing for a new audience.
As I do more theater and art along with my band and my day job, it is becoming more and more apparent that I need some sort of central online presence where interested parties can find me. Well, I already have the space, I just need to fill it with content and perform periodic upkeep. Simple, right? We’ll see, said the blind man…
Please check out my Insta and Twitter. I keep my Facebook private, so only friend me if you’re a friend. If you need to reach me for any reason, send me a note at rainydaymatt at gmail.