‘Company’ Star Matt Doyle on Channeling His Own Panic Attacks Into ‘Getting Married Today’ Showstopper
Matt Doyle still can’t believe what’s been happening to him lately.
A New York City theater actor for about 16 years, he’s now a first-time Tony nominee for his work as Jamie in director Marianne Elliott’s reimagining of Stephen Sondheim’s “Company.” Doyle has become quite close with Patti LuPone, the Broadway legend who plays Joanne in the revival and is also nominated for her work.
“I don’t think there will ever be anything more profound in my life, and I’m very comfortable with that,” Doyle, 35, tells me during a phone interview a couple of hours before a recent Wednesday night performance. “And what we’ve been able to do? We’ve brought the show back after a pandemic, we’ve lived through Stephen Sondheim’s death, I’m doing this with Patti LuPone. Like this is everything that I could ever have dreamt of in terms of what I would want to accomplish on stage and bringing my full entire self into a character.”
He adds with a laugh, “I’m very comfortable with saying this is my peak moment.”
LuPone called Doyle after the Tony nominations were announced. “Trust me, getting a call from Patti LuPone is another pinch-me moment,” Doyle recalled. “But I think the phone call very quickly led into what we were watching on Netflix.”
So what is LuPone enjoying on the streamer these days? “We were talking about true crime documentaries and she was telling me about ‘The Nightstalker.’ She was asking me if I get into that kind of stuff so we started talking about our favorite true crime stories,” Doyle said. “I think I said about 30 minutes in, ‘Listen, I think we’ve gotten a little off track here.’”
In the new “Company,” Doyle plays Jamie, who is engaged to Paul (Etai Benson). It’s a gender and sexual orientation swap of the straight couple featured in the original show. Before Sondheim died in November at age 91, he sat in on rehearsals, where Doyle sang one of the composer’s quickest and most notoriously difficult numbers.
“I did ‘Getting Married Today’ for him the first time in one of our first run-throughs,” Doyle said. “Marianne came up to me afterward and I was still shaking and she said, ‘It will never be scarier than that, I promise you.’”
Jamie’s wedding day jitters resonate with Doyle because of his own mental health issues. “Jamie is very different from who I am in a lot of different ways,” he said. “But what has been so wonderful is how much I’ve just been able to draw from in terms of understanding a panic attack and understanding an anxiety disorder. I can draw from that and put it into the music. What’s so amazing about Stephen Sondheim is he writes like Shakespeare. Every single note and word has an intention. You’re able to then draw from your own personal experience and put it into that. It’s thrilling. It’s almost therapeutic for me to be able to do that every night because then on top of all of that, drawing from my personal experience, and putting it into this masterpiece, it’s then celebrated as well.”
Before Doyle belts out the song during the show, LuPone cheers him on. “Every night, she tells me, ‘Knock ’em dead, kid!’” Doyle says. “It’s a dream come true.”
The 75th Tony Awards take place June 12 and will be hosted by Oscar winner Ariana DeBose. They’ll be broadcast live on CBS and Paramount+ at 8 p.m. ET.
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