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Matt Webster goes forth with BACK

A featured event in Ken Davenport’s inaugural Rave Theater Festival is BACK, a new play written by and featuring Matt Webster with Terra Mackintosh and directed by David Perlow

This 90-minute drama will perform on Saturday 8/10 @ 2:15pm; Tuesday 8/13 @ 8:45pm; Friday 8/16 @ 7pm; Sunday 8/18 @ 4pm; Friday 8/23 @ 9:15pm with tickets being available at http://www.BackThePlay.com (further info at @BackThePlay)

Leah travels to New York City to reconnect with her best friend Derek. Their undeniable chemistry and inherent trust would otherwise make these two a perfect match, if it weren’t for something in the past keeping them apart. Leah tells Derek about an incredible opportunity: a chance to go back in time and change the course of their lives. But there are rules about altering the past that could have devastating effects on the present. Will they risk everything in search of a second chance at life?

Matt Webster 2.jpgPlaywright/Performer Matt Webster recently performed on Broadway at the Hudson Theatre in DGF Toasts: Stephen Schwartz. In addition to singing in the show, Matt contributed the vocal arrangements.

So that makes him a Broadway actor and arranger.

Matt has been seen onstage as Glad Hand in the Broadway Tour of West Side Story and won BroadwayWorld’s Best Actor Award for his portrayal of Johnny Pope in A Hatful of Rain.

So that makes him an acclaimed Broadway actor and arranger.

Matt can also be seen on screen in various feature films, commercials, web-series, and short films.

So that makes him an acclaimed Broadway actor, film artist, and arranger.

As a writer, Matt’s first musical, Kingdom Come, won Best Musical at the Downtown Urban Theatre Festival in NYC. Since winning the festival, Kingdom Come has been featured at the New York Theatre Barn and the Secret Theatre in Long Island City. Kingdom Come made its regional premier at Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota. His second original musical, Propaganda! The Musical was produced at the Pearl Theatre on 42nd St. as part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival. It won several awards, including: Best Featured Actress and Best Choreography. It had its regional premier in Orlando, Florida at the Winter Park Playhouse in 2017. Propaganda! The Musical made its international debut at the Gaetnerplatz Theatre in Munich, Germany in July of 2018. This summer, Propaganda! The Musical will be released as a one of a kind, fully produced, podcast musical, featuring a full sound design, complete orchestra, and a cast filled with Broadway stars. Matt’s children’s show, a fast-paced, four-actor version of Cinderella, featuring songs from the Great American Songbook, premiered in March 2017 in Washington, DC with the American Pops Orchestra. He is currently writing several projects including: a new adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing featuring chart topping country hits; a film called “Super,” about the opioid epidemic in Ohio; and a new play called Jay and the Contest. He received his BFA in Acting from West Virginia University where he was named the outstanding graduate from the College of Creative Arts. Matt is a founding member of the Magic Forest Theatre Company – a traveling children’s theatre that performs at pre-schools and daycares across the NY Metro area. Matt won the 2016 Johnny Mercer Award for Songwriting and currently works as assistant to Broadway’s Andrew Lippa.

Well, that makes him an acclaimed Broadway actor, musical writer and arranger, film artist, with a diverse portfolio of projects befitting innumerable demographics. 

Not too shabby.

So we wanted to chat with Matt about BACK. This foray into fantasy and realistic romance is a featured piece at Broadway producer, Ken Davenport’s inaugural festival in NYC.

Tell us about yourself as an artist?

I’ve always had an interest in storytelling. When I was in second grade, our elementary school published a calendar that had a page dedicated to what all of us wanted to be when we grew up. I said I wanted to “be an actor, because it’s fun and it makes people happy.” I’ve always held on to that. I now realize that other emotions are appropriate too, but as a second grader, I think happiness was all I had experienced from stories. I use the word storyteller when I think about myself as an artist, because in addition to acting, I write, direct, produce, sing, compose, music direct, arrange – any opportunity to tell a story. Before I do any of the things I just mentioned, I always start with a story. I think stories can change the world.
Interesting spin on a love story … how did you come up with it?
I was sitting on the subway and it sort of just came to me. I pulled out my cellphone and starting to free write in my notes app. The process is basically a conversation with myself. I ask questions, come up with ideas – I end a lot of sentences with “maybe?” When I started to form the story, I as inspired by an invitation to my high school reunion. I didn’t want to go because I didn’t think people from high school knew the real me – they just knew their own version of me that they had created in their heads from social media. So that sparked the idea of everyone in the world having the ability to create their own private universe.
Do you feel you have a mission or scheme in writing?
To connect with people. To spark conversation.
You also are acting in your piece. What are the pros and cons?
This is the only time I’ve written something knowing that I wanted to play the role. Derek, the character I play in the show, is very close to me. I knew that his words would be the most true coming from me. It’s sometimes hard to take the writer hat off during the rehearsal process, but I have a great team of creatives around me who are very supportive.
What’s next?
It’s sort of happening at the same time, but I’m currently working on the Stage Around Tokyo production of West Side Story. It opens in Tokyo during our run of BACK in NYC. I’m assisting the director. I performed in the Broadway revival tour of West Side Story several years ago, so it’s been really fun for me to join the show again, just on the opposite side of the production table. When BACK closes, I’ll head over to Tokyo to see the show. It’s an epic production, unlike anything American audiences have ever seen. The whole show is in 360 degrees. The audience sits in the center of a circle of 8 stages, and the audience revolves on a turntable throughout the show to all of the sets. There’s the Hudson river, two story buildings, motorcycles. It’s massive.
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