Elisa Matthews Joins Media Theatre's SUNSET BOULEVARD as 'Betty'
The Media Theatre presents the Tony winning musical Sunset Boulevard, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's magnificent take on Billy Wilder's legendary film focusing on the silent film star Norma Desmond as she hopes for a return to screen glory during the advent of the talkies.
Tony nominee Ann Crumb plays Norma Desmond in director Jesse Cline's production. She is joined by a stellar cast. This Who's Who series will place the spotlight on each actor in the show which runs April 16-May 18.
Elisa Matthews portrays the role of Betty Schaeffer. Elisa is well known to Media Theatre audiences, having portrayed a few of the most iconic roles ever written for musical theatre actresses. She appeared in Cline's production of My Fair Lady as Eliza Dolittle, and appeared in the beloved role of Maria von Trapp in Media's The Sound of Music. She was Grace in Annie and took on the dramatic portrayal of Emma in Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical. All of these performances, including her time as Betty in Sunset Boulevard, give her the opportunity to showcase her vocals which the Philadelphia Inquirer referred to as 'wonderfully song-bird' style soprano.
The song bird is a two-time Barrymore award nominee, and her recent performances include Lily in The Secret Garden (11thHour Theatre), Mrs Anderssen in A Little Night Music (Arden Theatre), and Meg in Little Women (Bristol Riverside Theatre). She studied at Penn State University and teaches voice when not performing.
Elisa says the role of Betty is "A movie script reader and dreams of writing a great movie herself." Having recently had her first child, Elisa continues by saying "Betty is driven but also wants a family life which I can relate to."
Sunset Boulevard has what Time Magazine refers to as "Webber's most artfully constructed score." Elisa says that "It's based on the classic film noir by Billy Wilder and has an operatic quality. Ann Crumb will be dazzling and it's worth the trip for audiences to see what she does with the role. Working with her gives all of us much inspiration."
If she would have been a silent film star, Elisa explains that she would, as Norma does, "use my face, eyes, and body language to connect with the audience". Of course this production of Sunset Boulevard is not on the screen, although it will use screen graphics to emphasize certain elements of the narrative and reflect, perhaps, how Norma Desmond sees the world around her. This use of technology is a reminder that, like the world of film, theatre is also constantly evolving as it moves toward the future and finds a way to continue to connect with an ever-changing audience. To that extent, Elisa reminds us that we 'need to teach young people about the art form so they will become our future performers and audience'.
With her mind on the future as a young mother and actress, Elisa understands what Norma Desmond could not quite come to grips with-that, as time moves forward, we must remember what caused us to fall in love with films and Broadway musicals as we continue to improve them. Sunset Boulevard is a musical which provides a glimpse into the past while building a bridge to what may come our way if we just remember.
The show is produced by Media Music Theatre Company, the non-profit professional music theatre organization which produces the Broadway Series of musicals each season at The Media Theatre. It received Broadway World's "Best Theatre Company of Philadelphia" honor in 2012 and 2013.
For tickets to Sunset Boulevard, which runs April 16-May 18, visit mediatheatre.org or call 610-891-0100.