Friday, 15 November 2019

INTERVIEW: Michael Matus, about to star in The Astonishing Times of Timothy Cratchit at the Hope Mill Theatre

Michael Matus is currently in rehearsals for The Astonishing Times of Timothy Cratchit at the Hope Mill Theatre. His other credits include The Split (Sister Pictures/BBC), Richard III(UK Tour), ‘King Lear’(The Duke Of York's Theatre), ‘Broken Glass’ (Watford Palace), ‘The Wizard of Oz’ (The Crucible Theatre) ‘The Roman Actor’(RSC), ‘Endeavour’ (ITV), A Midsummer Nights Dream (The Globe), Phantom of the Opera(Her Majesty's Theatre), Oklahoma! (Chichester Festival Theatre), Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (West End), The Sound of Music (Regents Park), Imagine This (West End) and Lend Me A Tenor (West End), to name only a handful!

You’re about to star in The Astonishing Times of Timothy Cratchit at the Hope Mill Theatre this Christmas season. Tell us a bit about the show. 

It’s tiny Tim at 16, looking for work, wanting to break free from uncle Srooge, his crutch and explore the world, filling the void left by the loss of his Dad. He meets a circus troupe and things get wild.

And you’ll be playing Grimaldi, can you tell us a bit about the character?

Grimaldi leads the circus troupe. He’s vain and selfish, an impossible man with an incredible talent and energy. He meets Timothy and they form an inseparable bond.

This is a new musical written by Allan Knee, whats the process like for you as an actor working on a new musical?

I love it. It’s about adding/taking away from the canvas. It’s a huge privilege being at the inception of a show, and also the pressure to get it right is thrilling and addictive.

What kind of research have you had to conduct to prepare for this show? 

We looked at Victorian London, circus and also looked into gypsy life of the period. It helps that I was in The Muppet’s Christmas Carol.

And you’ll be performing at the wonderful Hope Mill Theatre, its such a great space and the work they have produced over the past few years has been fantastic. What are you most excited about working in this building? 

I’ve heard wonderful things and I love Manchester. I can’t wait to get there and meet the audience.

And do you have any plans for a Christmas in Manchester? 

My partner is doing Snow White at The Opera House, so both of us and the dog are all up for Christmas!

Your list of credits are extensive and so impressive, if you had to look back and return to one show which one would you chose and why? 

Lend Me A Tenor, it was hilarious and the music was incredible. The song Be Yourself is a total classic. That was another new piece.

If you had to chose 5 shows that you’ve previously been in for a rep
season in a theatre, which ones would you chose? 

The Mill on the Floss, Leeds, The Wizard of Oz, Sheffield, Jane Eyre, Leeds, Tis Pity She’s a Whore, Leeds and Comedy of Errors, Sheffield.

And looking to the future, are there any shows or parts you’d like to add to you CV? 

I want to play Richard III, Sweeney Todd, Tevye in Fiddler On The Roof, The Master Builder and a movie biopic about someone amazing!

I'm so glad you mentioned Lend Me A Tenor, I saw the show and absolutely fell in love with it. It’s such a shame it didn’t have the run it deserved. This is another show that you’ve created, with it being a musical rather than the preexisting play, is new work something you support and enjoy doing? 

I really, really do. If it’s not new I doubt I’d do it, unless it’s a classic! Our audiences back home need to embrace new theatre more. Let’s replace the dinosaurs with thrilling new works.

As well as new work you’ve also done some of the classics; The Phantom of the Opera, The Sound of Music, Richard III, King Lear, Oklahoma! and The Cherry Orchard to name a few! How do you feel about having such variety in your work? 

The spice of life! I love that I can’t be pinned down casting-wise. I’ll jump at anything that’s a challenge and to me comedy and tragedy are very closely related, so bring it all on!

You’re also one of the lucky few actors to make the cross over between plays and musicals, do you think this is difficult for an actor to do? 

I think there is an unfounded snobbery in both camps. Or a distrust. Both art forms are fantastic and incredibly difficult and I would love people in both to recognize that in each other. Then the crossover will be easier.

And having experienced all kinds of rehearsals processes, from new writing to Shakespeare to classic musical theatre, do you have a certain process that you stick to for each part? 

I do. I apply a set of rules in my head and they are the same for anything- film, theatre, TV or musical. I believe in it so strongly that I teach it whenever I can!

What advise would you give to an actor who wanted to work both in musical theatre and plays?

If you are passionate then do it. Don’t let hunger for fame be the reason. You should want to change the world with your passion for the arts. That’s it.

Tell us, in one sentence, why people should come and see The Astonishing Times of Timothy Cratchit at the Hope Mill Theatre? 

It’s a fascinating next chapter of the Dickens classic and it will thrill you, tear you in two and have you in fits of helpless laughter. I completely guarantee that!
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