More than 15 years after his Broadway debut, Matt Doyle is finally getting some well-deserved recognition – thanks to a reimagined, cutting-edge version of a 52-year-old musical.
The 35-year-old New York actor is nominated for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his performance in Stephen Sondheim’s revival of “Company,” which is currently playing at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater on Broadway. He plays the capricious Jamie, a gay groom-to-be who has last-minute doubts about his relationship with his fiancé Paul (Etai Benson).
“I feel like the roles that I’m always looking for are roles that I would never book, but the ones that are the most fitting are really falling on me,” Doyle told HuffPost. “As soon as we started rehearsals, I knew what a great moment it would be and that I was going to enjoy taking on the material. It’s such a wonderful gift.
Directed by Marianne Elliott, the new “Company” swaps the genders of several characters from the 1970 original to offer a new 21st century take on love, marriage and intimacy.
The show now focuses on single and provocative Bobbie (Katrina Lenk), returned from bachelor Bobby, as she prepares to celebrate her 35th birthday with a diverse group of New Yorkers who are in partnership. In previous productions, Paul and Jamie were depicted as Paul and Amy, a heterosexual couple.
Sondheim, who was gay, died at 91 in November, just weeks before “Company” opened on Broadway. However, the composer was a frequent presence in the rehearsal studio and, according to Doyle, became visibly emotional after hearing lyrics he had written for a straight woman performed by a gay man.
“The last time this show was revived was in 2006 when same-sex marriage wasn’t a legal right, so I don’t think he imagined Jamie would ever evolve that way,” he said. said the actor, who previously worked with Sondheim. on a production of “Sweeney Todd” in 2017. “But he was resistant to his shows becoming museum pieces. He believed in new ideas and new concepts. So thank you, Stephen, for letting me do it.
While Doyle’s performance in “Company” is his first to garner awards, he’s been known for some time as a prolific talent in theater circles across the country. He first appeared on Broadway in 2007 as a stand-in in “Spring Awakening,” then took on the role of Hanschen. Since then, he has starred in “War Horse,” also directed by Elliott, and “The Book of Mormon,” among other shows.
The actor has found many parallels between his current role and his off-stage life. Although he’s been happily with boyfriend Max Clayton, a fellow Broadway actor, for seven years, he said he’s “self-sabotaged” a number of romantic relationships in the past.
Known for being outspoken about his own mental health struggles, Doyle describes Jamie’s rapid-fire, tongue-twisting showstopper “Getting Married Today” as “theatre’s most perfectly written panic attack.”
“I have anxiety disorder and panic attack disorder, and I had to figure out what it was like when I was 13,” Doyle said. “I felt seen in the song, I felt seen in the music, and I was so excited to take it on because it’s something that I understand very well.”
Doyle is also thrilled to work alongside Patti LuPone, who plays Joanne, Bobbie’s caustic girlfriend, and is also nominated for a Tony. In recent weeks, LuPone has been making waves with a number of viral moments on social media. Behind the scenes, Doyle has come to view the famous Broadway legend as professional ballast.
“She says, ‘Put them to death, kid!’ to me every night, and I’ve always felt very supported by her,” Doyle said. “The thing about Patti is she’s always right. You may not like the way it goes, but she’s always right.
Doyle is set to appear June 12 with the rest of the “Company” cast at the 2022 Tony Awards, where the musical is up for a total of nine awards. While he’s not bringing home a Tony, he hopes his performance on the show will open doors for him to tackle other aspects of queer life in future projects.
“A lot of my characters have been boyfriends or husbands, but the chosen family is such a real thing when it comes to New York and being queer in general,” he said. “If I could do a project that really embraces that experience, that would be really special to me.”