THE LEADING MEN: Matthew James Thomas Discovers His Corner of the Sky in Broadway's Pippin

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25 Apr 2013

Patina Miller and Matthew James Thomas
Photo by Joan Marcus

Your dog is making his Broadway debut in the show?
MJT: He is — Porridge the Dog. I got him as my room companion at [Spider-Man] because I only did those two shows [a week], and I was there all the time, so I trained him in my room [and] he became kind of famous in the company. To be honest, Porridge is everybody's dog. I just look after him, but he's everybody's dog. I [brought] him to [Pippin] rehearsal one day, and Porridge jumped up on stage, and I showed [off his] tricks, and they [thought], "Maybe there can be a dog," and Diane saw the potential of that looking like the perfect kind of family picture with the dog… So yeah, Porridge is now a pro. He's loving every minute of it. I assure you!

I read that music also plays a big part in your life.
MJT: Yeah. I'm a pianist, and I play the guitar in the show. I mean, I'm not a great guitarist, but I do bits and bobs. I'm mainly a songwriter and a composer. I've done a lot of scoring and some stuff for British pop music that did pretty well, but I've mainly been working on my own stuff with Duncan Sheik. Duncan Sheik is producing some of my own music, which I have been working on over the last year with my manager Ron Shapiro. I've been really trying to find what it is I want to do with music and poetry. I write a lot of poetry and have been wanting to see where it fits… [I'm] also working on a musical, which I've been working on for like six years now, which is coming together… I think we're going to put it up in the next year or [sometime in] 2014.

Can you tease what it's about?
MJT: I can tell you right now that the working title is Malenkaya. It's a feminine term in Russia… The translation is "Oh little one," which is what [Grand Duchess] Anastasia [Nikolaevna]'s sisters in the [Russian Imperial] Romanov family used to call Anastasia because she was the younger one. That was her nickname. It's basically a story based on the lead up to the [Romanov family] assassination and after. My friend Ian MacGregor an is incredible musician and composer and also the manager of the New London Orchestra. We worked together on a project, and he told me about this idea. I [said], "I don't know why somebody hasn't done this yet. Let's just do it." And, six years later, we've spent God-knows-how-many hours working on this piece. We had a reading about a year ago, and that put us into a spiral of other exciting changes and developments, and studio sessions and recordings. It's getting to this place where we'll probably do a presentation with some really cool people!

( staff writer Michael Gioia's work appears in the news, feature and video sections of Follow him on Twitter at @PlaybillMichael.)

Watch Playbill Video's highlights from Pippin:

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