CUE & A: Side Show Star Matthew Hydzik on Stevie Wonder, Standup Comedy and Fighting Imaginary Wolves

News   CUE & A: Side Show Star Matthew Hydzik on Stevie Wonder, Standup Comedy and Fighting Imaginary Wolves
Matthew Hydzik, who stars as Buddy in the new Broadway revival of Side Show, fills out's questionnaire of random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.
Matthew Hydzik
Matthew Hydzik

Hydzik has previously appeared on Broadway as Tony in West Side Story and Kenickie in Grease.

Other theatre work includes the world premieres of Flashdance and It Shoulda Been You and national tours of Rent, Grease and Fame.

Full given name: Matthew William Hydzik
Where you were born/where you were raised: I was born in Sewickley Valley Hospital, just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (the same hospital that both my mother and father were born).
Zodiac Sign: Aquarius
What your parents did/do for a living: My mother is a retired elementary school teacher. My father works for Carnegie Mellon University.
Siblings: One older brother
Current audition song/monologue: Usually it's always something from the show I'm auditioning for. But if I'm asked to sing something else, I like to sing some Stevie Wonder; "Ribbon in the Sky," "All is Fair in Love" etc. It just makes me happy and calms me down in front of strangers.
Special skills: I play harmonica, guitar, love to draw and paint when I can.
Something you're REALLY bad at: Most sports. But I am an avid runner!
Who were you earliest mentors/inspirations when first starting out?

Pam Greg, Mario Melodia, Diane Melodia, Tom McLaughlin. They were my first directors/choreographers/mentors who run a Performing Arts Camp that I attended every summer growing up. My mom still does costumes for the camp. Also, Jill Wadsworth, who taught drama classes at PCLO and the old Public Theatre in Pittsburgh. She was a huge influence and turned me onto the power of Shakespeare at a young age.

First Broadway show you ever saw: Cats
If you could go back in time and catch any show, what would it be? I would've loved to have seen the original Hair!
Current or recent show other than your own you have been recommending to friends: Lady Day!
Favorite showtune(s) of all time: The Last Five Years, Side Show, Songs For A New World and Rent were huge influences on me when I got into musical theater in my college years. So, anything from those albums.
Some favorite modern musicals: Light in the Piazza
Some favorite classic musicals: West Side Story, Brigadoon
Broadway or screen stars of the past you would have most loved to perform with: Would've love to have met Gene Kelly. Being a Pittsburgh boy myself he's always been a hometown hero.
Your personal vocal idols, living or dead: Robert Plant, Neil Young, CSN&Y, Stevie Wonder, Jeff Buckley, Chris Cornell, Martin Sexton, and being a child of the 80's, MJ.
Music that makes you cry, any genre: If it's true to my heart, any genre will make me tear up. Honest live performance moves me very easily.
MAC or PC? MAC… although mine is 6 years old and barely boots up.
Most played song on your iPod: I listen mostly to Pandora. I have a couple music stations I love to listen to when I run, but I listen most often to stand-up comedy.
Most-visited websites: Is anyone ever honest about this question?
Last book you read: "Born To Run" by Christopher McDougall
Must-see TV show(s): "New Girl," "Gotham," "American Horror Story," "Parts Unknown"
Last good movie you saw: "Boyhood"
Some films you consider classics: I'm a Mel Brooks junky, so anything from him.
Performer you would drop everything to go see: James Taylor
Three favorite cities: Pittsburgh, La Jolla, Austin
Favorite sport/team/player: Steelers, Heath Miller
Best holiday/birthday gift you ever received: I got an enormous stuffed bear from my grandfather when I was 5 or 6. It was twice my size, best present ever. My niece has claimed him now.
First CD/Tape/LP you owned: Nirvana's "In Utero"
First stage kiss: Adria Vitlar, Aladdin and Jasmin. Boom!
Favorite or most memorable onstage role as a child/teenager:

Probably when I played the Beast in Beauty and the Beast. I was 15, my mic shorted out because I was sweating to death in a full-body fur suit, (in which I passed out from heat exhaustion). And the wolves never made their entrance, so I ended up fighting imaginary creatures all alone on an empty stage for 3 minutes. Good times!

Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living: I never thought about trying to make a living out of it when I was younger, I don't think kids think that way, I just lived it. When school was over, I needed a job in order to eat, and that's when I started to perform for a living.
Favorite pre-/post- show meal: I'm not a big eater before a show. But if I could, I would sit at the bar and eat pasta at Becco on 46th everyday. Love that place.
Favorite liquid refreshment: Raw coconut water
Pre-show rituals or warm-ups: I like to listen to stand up while I get ready. Patton Oswalt, Louis C.K. John Mulaney. I like the brutal honesty in their work. It makes me not take myself so seriously and I think it saves my soul to laugh out loud daily.


Also, I always have to kiss my ring and necklace when I take them off before a show. And then again when I put them back on.

Most challenging role you have ever played: Tony in West Side Story. I had to learn to not let my emotions get the better of me and blow my voice out when Doc tells me Maria's dead.
What was your previous relationship with Side Show? I actually did a production of it in college! I was in the ensemble and also did crew work during the second act. Fun fact: My wife played Violet in that production. We weren't dating at the time since I was a lowly underclassman at the time.
Biggest challenge about this current project: I've been involved with this project for a little over year now, and there were big gaps of time between the La Jolla and DC and Broadway productions. It was difficult to be unemployed for months in-between, not so much monetarily, I just go a little crazy when I'm not working.
Most fulfilling or fun aspect about the project:

The best part of this project is the family that we've created over the last year, including and especially the creative team. We are a solid unit, we're all madly in love with the show, and there were no egos or narcissism across-the-board. Everyone that Bill Condon brought into the project is here for the right reason: The love of the material and the process.

Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap: Never missed a cue, actually never happened. Thanks for asking, it's probably going to happen tonight. (as I knock on wood!)
Worst costume ever: That middle school Beauty and the Beast costume where I passed out from heat exhaustion.
Worst job you ever had: I worked the graveyard shift as a line cook at a 24-hour diner in college. That was rough.
Craziest audition story:

I sang and played guitar for Ted Neely, but forgot chords and then broke into a flop sweat because I was so starstruck. Oh, and then another time I auditioned for Kristin Hanggi for Rock of Ages, and the song was three steps higher than I expected and my head nearly exploded.

Needless to say, I didn't get either job but they were both very sweet about it. I completely bomb probably one out of every 4 auditions. Builds character.

If you could trade roles/tracks with anyone in the show for a week, who would it be? I'd love to have a shot at doing Houdini's track! His song, "All in the Mind," is so beautiful. However I could never sing it as beautifully haunting as Javier Ignacio does.
Leading man role you've been dying to play: I'm always dying to play a role that hasn't been done before.
Leading lady role you wish you could play: Does Hedwig count?
Something about you that surprises people: I'm actually even nerdier than I seem in real life.
Something you are incredibly proud of: I'm proud to be working. My goal is to continue on a career that I'm proud of.
Something you're embarrassed to admit: I liked the movie "The Money Pit."
Three things you can't live without: Well they're not actually things but: my wife, good music, a good long run (or eventually) a stroll in the woods.
Words of advice for aspiring performers:

Good work begets more work. Your work ethic speaks for you before you walk into the room. Also, work hard, drink harder, love the hardest.

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