Matt Doyle on his Tony-winning performance in 'Company' on Broadway
At the 2022 Tony Awards, Company on Broadway became the most awarded musical of the season with five trophies. Besides the Best Musical Revival honor, set designer Bunny Christie got a prize, and stage legend Patti LuPone picked up her third Tony for playing Joanne. Marianne Elliott picked up her third directing Tony for reimagining the story of the bachelor Bobby with a bachelorette named Bobbie (Katrina Lenk), who at 35 faces societal and biological pressure to settle down. But Bobbie isn't the only gender-swapped character.
"I'm the next bride!" Matt Doyle exclaimed at the end of his acceptance speech for the Best Featured Actor in a Musical award. It's a line that his character, Jamie, says after his showstopping song, "Not Getting Married Today." Longtime fans of Company, which premiered in 1970 and is now on its fourth Broadway production, might remember that a nervous bride, Amy, usually gets that number.
Doyle's Jamie is instead a gay man with cold feet about his wedding to his fiancé, Paul. The song points to why this reimagining of the character resonated with audiences and Tony voters alike: Jamie's anxiety reflects that of any LGBT person struggling to live their truth in a world where acceptance isn't always guaranteed, even if it's legal. On the flip side, the "I'm the next bride!" line reflects the joy of being able to do so. Those aspects of Jamie also resonated with the late Stephen Sondheim, who composed Company and advised Doyle himself for the revival before his death.
"At first I was playing it in a really internal way, just saying it like, "I'm the next bride" and walking off quietly. And he was like, 'That is not it! That is not it! You need to yell that line.' So when we came back from the pandemic, I just remembered I have to deliver that as joyfully and as big as possible. And that was something that I know he was thrilled about."
At the 2022 Tony Awards, Doyle spoke about playing his Tony-winning role and the people that supported him along the way.
How do you keep up with the physicality of "Not Getting Married Today"?
Right before we got back, I started running 5K a day because I wanted to get some breath support back and wanted to get back into shape, because the pandemic really, really, really took a lot out of me. So for about four months, I think I ran 110 miles a month and got my breath support back, and that's honestly what got me back into shape for the song.
Can you talk about the notes Stephen Sondheim himself gave you on your performance?
His big note for "Getting Married" was "faster." I rely on that a lot because it does actually make the song easier. You have less space in between each word so you can breathe less, and he was right about it every single time. And also, he loved the line "I'm the next bride," which is why I said it tonight on stage. Especially coming from the perspective of a gay man now, when this right [same-sex marriage] wasn't even a right that we had in the last revival in 2006, it was so important to him that that was joyful and celebrated.
Sondheim was initially resistant to change Amy to Jamie. Were you aware of this, and how did it impact your performance?
I did. I knew that this was really important to Marianne and it was really important to Chris Harper. Chris was the first person to think of the idea and brought it to Marianne, and she said, "There's no way we're going to convince him." [Sondheim] was very resistant to it at first. And I know Marianne also felt that in a really beautifully feminist production, we shouldn't lose another female role, a great classic female role — there has to be a reason behind it.
Once Stephen really understood the reasoning behind this new anxiety around gay marriage and what that means for a culture that's never had that right before and how we fit into that culture and how we fit into this heteronormative institution, that was an idea that needed to be explored. That was an idea that could bring this piece a fresh perspective. I definitely feel the pressure of making sure that is clear in our scene.
Do you discover new things about Jamie the more you play him?
What's been really fun lately is checking back in with the love that I have for Paul and really making sure that I treat him with all the kindness in the world, that I'm trying to make it a perfect day for him, but my anxiety is working against me. It's been fun finding new colors, to play with that, and new points where I can reach out to Etai Benson [who plays Paul] and find some extra bits of love so the audience knows that, of course, I love him. It's just, I'm being defeated by my own hangups and my own fear and my own self-loathing, and that's what's hurting me and that's what's holding me back.
Who has helped you get to where you are now in your career?
This wonderful woman named Marilyn Izdebski pulled me out of a very scared and bad place when I was a kid. She introduced me to community theatre, and she showed me that there is community out there with like-minded individuals and that I would find my passion, and I did.
Theatre is suffering across the country right now, and it's not just Broadway struggling to come back. It's community theatre, local theatre, teachers and people that put it up in our high schools. And it's more important than ever to keep that going and to make sure that we maintain those programs because that's why I'm here, and I wouldn't be here without her.
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