Interview with Matt Bogart
Matt is a handsome baritone and has appeared on Broadway as Radames in Aida, as Chris in Miss Saigon and as the "white guy" in Smokey Joe's Café which was filmed for television and is available on video and DVD. Most recently Matt was involved in Frank Wildhorn's newest venture Camille Claudel at the Goodspeed Opera House, where he played opposite Linda Eder as Paul Claudel, Camille's younger brother. He also appeared at the Kennedy Center's Sondheim Celebration where he played Paul in Company, opposite Alice Ripley. Regional credits include 110 in the Shade, Camelot, Carousel, Oklahoma and West Side Story.
Matt is excited to be playing with Peter Nero and the Philly Pops, in the new Kimmel Center, which he recently visited this Fall while in town. I caught up with Matt for a brief chat about his career.
I commented about Matt's background growing up in Dayton Ohio with three other brothers who are all finding their way in the entertainment industry. He related one by one how his younger brother Kevin lives in Seattle, and is more of a musician than an actor, studying classical and Jazz guitar and he's a singer. His brother Dominick, second youngest just moved out to LA and he's interested in trying out the film industry. His brother Daniel is with the Les Miserables tour, understudying Marius and actually goes on a lot and has been enjoying that for a good two and a half years.
According to Matt, "it is interesting, we're not quite sure how or why that all came to be," all the brothers taking the creative arts direction. It's fun when we all get together. Usually there are a couple of guitars and lots of singing."
As I pointed out the list of Broadway shows Matt's been part of he added that he was really very lucky to get to play Chris in Miss Saigon right out of college. He loves the show and did the second national tour for a year and a half, then came back to New York with it for about 6 mos. His Broadway debut was stepping in for someone's vacation as Chris. It was a really nice fit for him as he knew the show already and he felt that he was primed to do the role there in New York. So after doing the vacation week, he was offered a contract where he did the show for another year and a half.
As one thing leads to another, Matt did Civil War and worked with Jerry Zaks. He loved the music and the great people involved with that and also had the good fortune to be part of another recent Frank Wildhorn production, Camille Claudel, where he thought Frank and Nan Knighton did some of their best work.
We talked about his role as Lancelot in Camelot at the Paper Mill Theater in Millburn, NJ, where Matt had a great experience working with one of his favorite actors, Brent Barrett, who he enjoys listening to and has looked up to. He also had a great experience playing Billy Bigelow in Carousel at the Paper Mill a few years prior to Camelot. But this was Matt's first real shot at doing Lancelot and it was fun- a very broad and classic version of the show. He also just finished doing Camelot down at Arena Stage with Molly Smith who's the artistic director there." It was a very different experience in that we really looked at the text and changed the character of Lancelot a lot, in that I felt more like a Mad Max Lancelot," says Matt. It was very gothic, a little worldlier, being produced in DC and more of a round table/UN statement with the show. The cast was very ethnic bringing in people from around the world as opposed to different parts of England. It was a new take on the role and allowed me to play it differently, as well as in the round." This was his first experience playing in the round and quite enjoyable.
As far as upcoming projects, cabarets, new CD's are concerned; Matt will take some time off and be around in New York for some possible things. Then in summer, will go back to Arena stage to get involved in his first professional play which he's very excited about with Molly Smith called Orpheus Descending, which is one of the Tennessee Williams plays and he'll be playing Val. He's excited to play one of Tennessee Williams's tragic heroes, as part of a series of the Tennessee Williams plays perhaps like they did with the Sondheim Series at the Kennedy Center.
We talked about various types of work broadening an actor's abilities to learn and grow. I brought up the Smokey Joe's role of the "white guy" and we joked about Matt's dancing role, which he admits was perhaps not actually dancing but moving around a lot and how fun it was working with all of them especially the wonderful BJ Crosby." She was like the mother queen and everyone respects and loves her. To be a part of that company which was almost the entire original cast was just great," says Matt. He's concentrating on his upcoming shows and working towards another album that is in its beginning stages.
I asked Matt, who goes into his CD player? He holds Anthony Warlow pretty high on his list of favorites, as well as Brent Barrett and Alice Ripley. He's got a shelf full of friends CD's that he listens to and supports. "It's about community and supporting each other's efforts," says Matt.
Matt talked about the performing aspect and doing your best, enjoying what you are doing and waiting to see what the future brings in the entertainment industry. It was nice to chat with an actor who comes across as taking each day as it comes. Matt has an exciting project in the wings in DC and I wish him well and thank him for a very casual chat.