PLAYBILL BRIEF ENCOUNTER With Matthew Saldivar, Peter and the Starcatcher's New Stache

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14 Jul 2012

Saldivar and Celia Keenan-Bolger onstage as the show celebrated its 100th performance July 11
Photo by Monica Simoes

You just finished Streetcar, and now you're in Starcatcher. Are you finding a sudden interest in non-musical theatre [his previous Broadway outings include Grease and The Wedding Singer] or are these the type of projects that are coming your way?
MS: Well, when I [completed] graduate school [at New York University], my classmates did not expect me to be doing musical theatre. They thought that I was going to be into classical, experimental and political theatre. And, I did a lot of that for almost ten years before I did The Wedding Singer… So, in a wonderful turn of events, and over the course of the past year, I [was involved in the development of] a new play, [Michael Golamco's Build], up at Chautauqua [Theater Company], and then I did Much Ado About Nothing at the Shakespeare Theatre in DC, and then I did A Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway, and now this. So I've had a wonderful year of dealing with straight plays, but I love all kinds of mediums. I love art, I love literature, I love music — so I like to get my hands on as much of that stuff as possible in whatever form it comes in.

You're also developing new work yourself?
MS: I actually am developing a piece of musical theatre based on a novel from the Mexican Revolution called "Los de Abajo" [by Mariano Azuela], which translates as "The Underdogs." I was doing a master's in Spanish, and I had a seminar with a wonderful professor named Seymour Menton — he taught my Gabriel García Márquez class, [which included Márquez's novel], "One Hundred Years of Solitude." I just admired and cared for [Menton] very much, [and] he came to see me in South Pacific when I was on the road. We stayed in touch, and I went to him when I was doing Much Ado About Nothing in DC, and I asked him what he thought about my idea — I thought that this book should be adapted in some form. He thought it was a good idea, and he put me in touch with somebody to make arrangements with [the author's] estate in Mexico to develop this piece for the musical theatre, so I've been adapting the novel this summer. Over the fall, I'm going to continue doing that and start workshopping it. It's incredibly exciting — my father's from Mexico… The goal is to bring the story of that novel and the story of that time in Mexican history to audiences — to a larger audience.

You made your Broadway debut as over-the-top rocker Sammy in The Wedding Singer, and now you get to "ham it up" in Peter and the Starcatcher. They're both great character roles…
MS: [Laughs.] Yeah! The funny thing about Sammy… He wears the Michael Jackson jacket and the glove, and he's got that super-intense, giant mullet because he is cultivating an image of himself that he wants to love and realize — he wants to be a character. And, Black Stache is the same way. He really wants to be a great villain, and he doesn't achieve that until he meets Peter and is completed by that. He meets his perfect foil, and that's what really brings the joy into his life. I mean, he has a capacity for joy and fun, but he is reborn when he meets Peter. He is fulfilled, and now they're going to fight forever.

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Watch highlights of Peter and the Starcatcher:

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