This week Playbill catches up with Matt Doyle, who can currently be seen playing Jamie in the gender-switched Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth's Company at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre.
Doyle has also been seen on Broadway as Elder Price in The Book of Mormon, Billy Narracott in War Horse, Hanschen in Spring Awakening, and Hugo Peabody in Bye Bye Birdie, while his Off-Broadway credits include Sweeney Todd, A Clockwork Orange, Brooklynite, and Jasper in Deadland. The actor starred in the world premiere of the Huey Lewis musical The Heart of Rock & Roll at San Diego's Old Globe, and his screen credits include The Code, a recurring role on Gossip Girl, and Private Romeo. Doyle's album, Uncontrolled, is available on iTunes.
What is your typical day like now?
It takes a lot to come down from Jamie! He’s at a ten from the moment I walk on stage. I usually am awake until at least 3 AM, so I sleep until about 10 AM every day. At 10:30, my youngest dog, Theo, gets picked up for day care. I usually have a few meetings after that. I head into the city to go to the gym, come back to walk and feed all three of my dogs, and then drive back into Manhattan to catch the 6 PM street parking that opens up before my show. I’ve got it down to a science at this point! After the show, I’ll have a whiskey or two in the dressing room to take the edge off. I head home with my partner, Max, who’s usually waiting for me to finish up over at The Music Man. We wind down together in the car and catch up on our days. Dinner and some TV usually happen around midnight for us.
Are there any parts of your role or the musical that seem particularly poignant/relevant following the events of the past two years?
The entire show feels more relevant than ever. It’s a musical about company—about togetherness and learning from one another’s life experiences, which is what we’ve all been so sorely lacking over the past two years. It’s a musical about being alive and, more specifically, being alive in New York City. I can’t think of a better show to return to Broadway with.
Beyond that, I think Jamie’s panic and anxiety is much more relatable to most people than it was two years ago! I can’t tell you how many friends of mine are understanding mental health in a way they never had before. We’re in a time of uncertainty and fear. I think it’s cathartic for the audience to witness Jamie’s completely hysterical release of that tension.
How do you prepare to perform the high-speed "Getting Married Today" each night?
I actually run the song several times a night before my scene. Bless the poor cast members on my floor for their patience. I do it once slowly, over-enunciating the words, and several times after that at a much quicker tempo than we do in the show. It’s all a warm up. Loosening the muscles and getting the tongue going. I feel like Will Ferrell in Anchorman sometimes with the amount of random tongue twisters I do.
What I’ve learned after doing this show eight times a week, though? No matter how hard you try, you can’t control what your body is going to surprise you with. Spit, burps, breathing in phlegm and choking; I’ve experienced it all. I would get so mad at myself for a slight slur or trip when we first started, but spit happens.
What does it mean to you to be performing in this production of Company following the loss of Stephen Sondheim?
Losing him during previews was devastating. We had all waited so long to come back and bring this fantastic production to life for him. We all take immense pride in how much he loved this version. Luckily, he was there with us on our first preview. I’m so grateful he got to witness the love that was in that theatre that night. All of it was for what he had created. I don’t know if I’ll ever be a part of something more profound than this revival is, especially after losing him. It meant the world to him to see his work evolving for a new generation and audience. We do every show for Steve.
Do you have a favorite Sondheim memory?
He used to note me on the line "I’m the next bride!" all the time. It was his favorite line in the show. He used to say it was the "greatest exit line ever written." I originally tried to play it with a quiet, tender discovery before running off. He hated it. He wanted me to shout the line with sheer, elated joy. To him it was the most celebratory line in the show, especially now, from the perspective of a gay male. He was absolutely right, of course. After the first preview back, he told me with tears in his eyes that it was perfect. I’ll never forget that.
During this time of reflection and re-education regarding BIPOC artists and artistry, particularly in the theatre, what do you want people (those in power, fellow artists, audiences) to be aware of? What do you want them to consider further?
Accessibility is going to be key. Until we figure out more ways to allow audiences of all backgrounds into our theatres, we won’t see a change. Commercial Broadway is priced for the wealthy elite. It is a luxury. As a result, it’s often targeted to them. We need change from the top, and that starts with our theatre owners. I would love to see more government subsidization as well. If we can make theatre more accessible, especially to students and younger audiences, we can cultivate a far more diversified future on Broadway.
What, if anything, did you learn about yourself during the past year-and-a-half that you didn't already know?
I’ve learned I’m far more emotionally resilient than I would have guessed. Through all the triumph, this process has been filled with constant trauma. When we shut down in 2020, If you had told me the things I would experience over the next two years, I would have had an emotional breakdown. Luckily, our show has survived it all in doses. We push through every chapter and rise up together. I am in awe of the spirits of everyone at my show. This entire journey has bonded us in a way I’ve never experienced with a cast and crew. I’m immensely proud of what we continue to accomplish in such a difficult time for theatre.
Do you have any other stage or screen projects in the works?
Right now, my focus is Company, and will be through the year. But, yes, I’m definitely working on a few exciting new projects and hope I can speak about them soon.
What organization would you recommend people learn more about or donate to during this time of change?
One that many people are familiar with and one that needs our help more than ever. One in four LGBTQ youth attempted suicide in the first half of 2021. That number is inexcusable, and it’s even worse within the BIPOC community. I struggled when I was 13 and remember that fear and torment all too well. We can and need to be doing more for queer youth. The Trevor Project is a very important organization to me and one that I will continue to promote and work with. I love them.