Actor/Singer Brandon Matthieus Turns Talent into Six Roles
Edith Billups | 10/21/2009, 9:58 p.m.
As an actor who plays six different roles in the National Theatre production of the Broadway hit €Jersey Boys,€ Stanford graduate Brandon Matthieus feels particularly blessed.
€When I was going to college, I interned for Mel Gibson€s and Denzel Washington€s public relations person,€ said Matthieus, 34. €I thought I was going to be a PR person and never thought I would be doing this.€
As fate would have it, Matthieus, the son of an African American father and Filipino-Italian mother, would be asked to audition for the role of Simba in €The Lion King.€ He landed the understudy role.
€There weren€t a lot of Black guys on the roster to submit names to play Simba,€ said the singer and actor who studied musical theater and opera at Northwestern and sociology at Stanford. €So when they asked if I could sing, I said €yes.€€
Matthieus would go on to play Simba in the first and second U.S. tours of the Broadway hit, and what had been a hobby since the age of 10 would turn into a successful career.
Matthieus said a €supportive family and an incredible public school system in Oregon€ are the reasons he is where he is today.
€In Salem, they had a great performing arts program, and I had great teachers who worked with me,€ he said.
In high school, Matthieus played the saxophone and violin, but changed to the chorus. In his senior year, he won a vocal arts competition and headed for Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. Matthieus would transfer to Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., where fellow classmates would be Tiger Woods, Chelsea Clinton and Reese Witherspoon. Matthieus has been with the cast of €Jersey Boys€ for the past three years.
The play tells the story of singer Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, Italian Americans from New Jersey who would make some of the most memorable songs in history. The four actors playing the lead hail from different ethnic backgrounds, €but I am one cast member who can truly claim an Italian heritage,€ Matthieus said. €The actor who plays Frankie Valli is Lebanese.€
In the show, Matthieus plays six different roles, including that of recording artist Hal Miller, a police detective and a chef. The show has bookings until 2011, so Matthieus, who did the usual temp and wait jobs before his career took off, is gainfully employed until that time. The dream job, however, is not without its drawbacks, which includes little time to develop meaningful romantic relationships.
Just as the show portrays how the lives of Valli and his colleagues was impacted by thousands of hours touring on the road, €developing meaningful long-term relationships doesn€t work well with this life,€ Matthieus said.
€I don€t see my family often, and my mail goes to three different places. In addition, in this economy, there is always the uncertainty of a show being a success. When you are not in a show, you worry about how you are going to support yourself and you are going to auditions all the time.€
Meanwhile, Matthieus enjoys the fact that he has reconnected with his father, Philip, who he had spent little time with until Matthieus turned 18.
€When the show goes to Memphis, I will be staying with him, and I am excited about that.€
€Jersey Boys€ plays at the National Theatre through Dec. 12. For tickets, visit www.JerseyBoysInfo.com.