During the summer, Matt Krzan was in the cast of the revival of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at London Palladium, and is currently playing the role of Rudolpho in the West End production of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Matilda The Musical. With his extensive theatre career, Matt’s work has included touring internationally with Cats, being Understudy Buddy in Elf the Musical and performing in Priscilla Queen of the Desert, both in London and on the UK Tour. Matt appeared as a contestant on Series 1 of The Greatest Dancer with his drag group The Globe Girls, and as a choreographer, has worked on Cool Rider and Loserville in the West End. Answering our questions recently, Matt tells us about appearing on The Greatest Dancer, being in the revival of Joseph and playing Rudolpho in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Matilda The Musical at the Cambridge Theatre.
Are you able to tell us what Rudolpho is like to play in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Matilda The Musical?
Rudolpho is so much fun to play! He’s the greasy, lothario ballroom teacher who thinks he’s God’s gift to women. I love the scene we do before our number; the direction is always heightened reality. I love it! To hear an audience laugh is such a great reward, with a cheeky jump into the splits as well. The actual number that I do with Mrs Wormwood (Marianne Benedict) is a killer, it’s called Loud. It is so fast and never gets easier, but I have learnt to love it.
Had you seen the show before being cast, and what did you know about the role?
I had seen the show and I thought it was an amazing piece of theatre. Interesting, funny, intelligent choreography and I thought ‘I would suit the role of Rudolpho! I hope I can audition one day!’.
What’s it like being part of a long-running show at Cambridge Theatre?
It’s a really great feeling! I love being in Covent Garden as I haven’t worked in a theatre this side of town before. I love its history; I love the auditorium. I saw Fame at the Cambridge which was a big inspiration to me. Chicago the show was also a massive influence on me as a performer. It’s what really made me want to be a dancer and I saw it at the Cambridge a lot, especially as my boyfriend appeared in the show. I’m very happy to be performing at the Cambridge.
How long were rehearsals and what was the choreography like to learn?
The rehearsal period is the longest I have ever had for a show – seven whole weeks!! And to make it even harder I was performing Joseph at the Palladium at the same time for the entire seven weeks. The choreography is quite difficult to learn as it is very intricate and precise, and every movement has a particular thought behind it. This explains why we needed the seven weeks rehearsal!
You’ve appeared in Priscilla Queen of the Desert a couple of times; can you tell us about your time in both runs?
I absolutely loved Priscilla! There was so much joy and fun surrounding that show. To be in the heart of the West End, literally on Old Compton Street, dancing to the best disco score ever and getting paid! It really was one of the best years of my career. When I performed in the tour it was a really special time for me but for different reasons. I had been Swing/Dance Captain on shows for a long time and not covered or played a part in a while. Then when I did the tour, I covered Tick and Bernadette. After two days of rehearsals I went on for Bernadette and it was the most incredible feeling. I cried in my bow! (Happy tears) It reminded me how much I love performing and loved playing Bernadette.
How was it being part of the Original UK Cast of Elf the Musical?
Elf was great! It was so much fun to work on a brand-new production and workshop moments and create the show with the team. I have never been in a Christmas show, I also covered Buddy which was exciting! Such a big part, he doesn’t leave the stage!!
Is there a difference performing in a London show opposed to an international tour of the same production like Cats?
Regarding the actual show itself, there isn’t really anything different, but with the logistics of travelling, it can change a lot. Every venue is different, navigating backstage can be difficult, and just when you feel like you know the theatre, you move on. The biggest difference is the audiences from country to country. We were lucky enough to perform in countries that had never had a musical perform there before. Bulgaria springs to mind and the audience would just go absolutely crazy, all jump to their feet surging towards the stage, it was an amazing feeling.
Can you tell us about being Dance Captain on the international tour?
Being Dance Captain was a great experience. I had done the show previously as Swing and Macavity, and now I was Munkustrap, I really felt a connection with the show. I love Gillian Lynne’s choreography and I felt an absolute passion to keep it clean and to keep its intention strong. As we were international, the Resident Choreographer wasn’t there all the time, so I really felt like I had a purpose. I was looking after the show which I loved, especially as it was Cats, a show which I really do respect and hold close to my heart.
You’ve previously been the choreographer for Loserville and Cool Rider West End, can you talk about this role?
Getting the job of Choreographer of Cool Rider was one of the best moments of my career, and I’m so grateful the producers took a chance on me. I had no showreel, I just had a couple of YouTube clips of numbers I had choreographed. But what I did do was tell them how I had been choreographing a musical of Grease 2 in my head since I was a child. It is one of my favourite films, and as a child, I would ask my mum to put the stepladder up in the front room so I could be Stephanie and sing Cool Rider! It was a magical experience. As a creative team with Lee Freeman and Guy Unsworth, we worked together so well, and the reaction we received from the audience was unreal. I have never experienced anything like it! It’s such a shame the show could not carry on as it was really something special.
Loserville was also a great experience and totally different as I didn’t know the show at all. I had to create completely from scratch, research into the era and into sci-fi. But I loved it, and we really created something great at the Union. I kept saying I’m choreographing this like it’s at the Palladium. I didn’t let the space limit anything, so the poor dancer who got lifted in the air had to make sure her fist didn’t go into the lighting rig haha! But it really worked, I received really great feedback and I was one of three finalists for The Offie for Best Choreography which was amazing. I really want to do some more soon, performing makes it difficult but I really do enjoy it.
Having appeared at the Palladium a couple of times, including in this year’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, what is this theatre like to perform in?
It’s one of the most famous theatres in the world, and what a privilege to perform there! The first time I performed there was in drag with La Cage Aux Folles for The Royal Variety. Camilla asked me how long it takes to take my eyelashes off! Then it was Cats where I played Munkustrap. I was singing solos, playing the best part of my career so far and really living the dream, and then Joseph was sold out every night! Over 2000 people on their feet every night was a really special experience.
How was the experience being part of the revival of Joseph?
It was an interesting experience being part of a completely brand-new working of an existing show – the show we all know and love being completely reworked. I really enjoyed seeing people direct and create. The children having such a lot of involvement as well made it something very different. Very hard work but very rewarding.
What was The Greatest Dancer like to appear on and how was the experience on the first series?
It was so different from anything I have ever done before, I felt very out of my comfort zone. Fifteen years of theatre and my first experience of reality television! I am very proud of what we achieved and the fact we were a drag group on BBC prime time was a really special moment. As difficult as it was for me, as long as people enjoyed us and children out there were inspired to be who or whatever they want to be, then that makes it all worthwhile and makes me so happy that I did it.
What encouraged your acting career?
My nan loved the old movie musicals and we would watch them together and that’s what first inspired me. I then realised that movie musicals weren’t really made anymore and it was now just musical theatre, so that’s what I wanted to do! My family have always been very supportive and encouraging, and when I said I wanted to leave University and go to London Studio Centre for another three years they said ‘Ok!’, for which I am so grateful.
What do you enjoy about performing in theatre and what advice would you give someone making their West End debut?
I love to be on stage and make people happy, I love to help tell a story, I love hearing applause! I really love when they laugh when I say a funny line!! Haha!! My advice to someone starting out would be firstly it’s ok to not go straight into a West End Show, it’s not the be all and end all. I toured for four years before I did my first West End show and I really felt like I had earned it and I had learnt so much. When you get that West End Debut, enjoy it! Work hard, take it all in, don’t moan about being tired, think about how you have really achieved something, be in the moment, be humble, be polite to everyone and remind yourself that you are living your dream!
Matt Krzan is represented by Michelle Blair Management https://www.michelleblairmanagement.co.uk/matt-krzan
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