Curtain Calls

matthew-morgan.jpg: Matthew Morgan portrays Benny in the upcoming production of "Rent" at the Detroit Opera House.

** Scanned In House Photo **
Danny Jacobs – seen here in the Jewish Ensemble Theatre Company's production of "Romeo and Juliet" – is one of many local actors contributing to "Lysistrata" at the Bonstelle Theatre.

There's 'no day but today' to talk to 'Rent' actor Matt Morgan

Some things are simply meant to be.
Although it was a long and frustrating road Matthew S. Morgan traveled before finally achieving his goal, the old axiom "good things happen to those who wait" certainly came true for this talented and affable young actor.
Morgan, who will be in Detroit beginning March 18 with the national touring production of "Rent," first auditioned for the Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical in 1998 – about two years after his graduation from college with a degree in theater. He was still living in his home state of Connecticut at the time, which made the audition process not only time consuming, but also costly!
"I was taking the train from Connecticut to New York every couple of weeks because they were calling me back so often," Morgan recently told BTL. "Every time I took the train down I thought would be the day they'd tell me I had the job. Then I'd be able to move to New York."
The trips went on for three months, however. Finally, Morgan figured it was cheaper to simply move to the Big Apple than help support Amtrak.
"So I moved on the hope I would get the job in 'Rent'. I had some money saved up, but the first thing I did was look for a job," he laughed.
Morgan quickly found employment Рas many newly-arrived actors do Рwaiting tables at a small cafŽ in Midtown Manhattan. He then began making the rounds looking for work in his chosen profession.
"A year went by living in New York and I still hadn't gotten the job in 'Rent', but the casting agency sent me out on a couple of other things they were doing, and I got a small Off-Broadway play called 'Do La Guarda' which I did for three months."
When that show closed, Morgan went back to waiting tables. About six months later, however, he got the call he was waiting for.
"They told me they wanted me to audition for a tour of 'Rent' they were setting up," Morgan recalled. "I was skeptical, at first, but I went in and got the job."
Rehearsals for "Rent" began in August 2001, three years after his first audition.
"I like 'Rent' because it's a real show, as opposed to something more fantasy-like such as 'Oklahoma' or 'Showboat'. 'Rent' deals with real problems that are current today, such as AIDS, homelessness, people selling out and your mother nagging you. I think it touches you more."
In "Rent," Morgan plays Benny, the landlord of an apartment building that he wants to turn into a state-of-the-art multimedia studio. When he fails to gain the support of the tenants, he padlocks the building. And then all hell breaks loose!
Although "Rent" touches on subjects that many feel are controversial or taboo, reaction to the touring production has been positive.
"The audience loves it," Morgan stated. "This is a story about love and how people go about their everyday lives while dealing with the world around them. It's not about us going onstage screaming 'I'm a faggot' or 'Look at me, I wear a dress and I'm a boy.' It's about struggling to survive in the world."
You can't get timelier than that!

Rent Staged at the Detroit Opera House March 18 through 23. Tickets: $20 – $55.50. (313) 872-1000. Not recommended for children under 13.

Detroit theatre community raises voice of dissent

DETROIT – Dozens of Detroit area theatre artists are raising their voices as part of a global initiative in opposition to the war on Iraq.
A large fraction of the Detroit theatre community is uniting to produce a staged reading of the Ancient Greek Anti-War play "Lysistrata" scheduled for March 3 at the Bonstelle Theatre. The local reading is part of the international Lysistrata Project, in which theatre artists worldwide are raising their collective voice against war in Iraq by producing readings of the anti-war classic on the same day. To date, 389 play readings are scheduled in 32 countries including three in Ann Arbor and two in Detroit.
The reading at The Bonstelle Theatre will be followed by a panel discussion of community leaders discussing the human cost of war, including Rudy Simons of the Cranbrook Peace Foundation, Grace Rivera of Freedom House and Fern Katz of W.A.N.D. as well as others.
The Bonstelle reading, directed by Gillian Eaton and Lavinia Moyer Hart, will include dozens of faces familiar to area theatre goers, including Terry Heck, Lynnae Lahfeldt, Henrietta Hermelin, Ebony McLain, Laurie Logan, Shirley Benyas, Danny Jacobs, Tom Mahard, Will Young, Council Cargyle, Tom Suda, York Griffith and Matt Wortroba. The cast of over 60 people includes performers from The Hilberry, The Gem, Performance Network, Jewish Ensemble Theatre, The Theatre Company, Plowshares Theatre, Detroit Repertory Theatre, Planet Ant Theatre and Meadowbrook Theatre.
"Lysistrata" tells the story of women from opposing states who unite to end a war by refusing to sleep with their husbands until the men agree to lay down their swords. Powerless in their society and distraught over too many of their children being slaughtered in battle, the women take the only tactic available to them: they withhold sex.
The Detroit reading at the Bonstelle Theatre will begin at 7:30 on March 3. Suggested donations of $5.00 or more are being accepted at the door.
Tee shirts commemorating the event will be on sale in the lobby along with the popular "no war" lawn signs and pins.
The event will benefit the Freedom House in Detroit whose mission is to provide food, clothing, shelter and legal services to people who have been devastated by torture and the refusal of human rights.
The Bonstelle Theatre is located at 3424 Woodward Ave near the corner of Mack and Woodward. Anyone interested in volunteering as ushers, parking attendants, assisting with distribution of publicity materials or making monetary donations should contact Amy Lynch at (313) 577-7899.


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