Australian performer Matt Hunt has had a dream run. From working as a lifeguard at a pool in Orange, NSW to starring in Jersey Boys (first in Australia and now on the West End) he is living the theatre performer’s dream.
Matt plays Norm in the London production and covers the lead roles of Tommy and Nick – two of the Four Seasons- roles he also performed many times during the Australian run. We caught up with him to ask him about life on the West End at the Piccadilly Theatre…
Has performing always been your first love?
I think in some form or another I’ve always ‘performed’. Throughout school i was into music heavily, playing all types of music and instruments. I didn’t really start acting or singing until I was in my later years of high school. I was the front man in a few original rock groups, and somewhere along the way I started to do musicals. Now I can’t imagine doing anything else.
When did you move to London? How did that all come about?
I moved to London at the start of February this year. When the Jersey Boys tour in Australia was finishing up, and I didn’t want the ride to end as I loved doing the show. I’ve always wanted to work in London and I have dual citizenship so I emailed one of the head guys on Broadway who puts all the shows in around the world, and he said if I were keen, auditions would be in November 2013. So I flew over for the final rounds of auditions did my thing for about a week and flew back. About two weeks later the offer came through.
What does working on Jersey Boys on the West End mean to you?
Jersey Boys West End is surreal. It’s hard to imagine that this time four years ago I was lifeguarding at a pool in Orange, NSW.
I’ve worked really hard to get here and this is a dream job. I’m very grateful that I’m in this position.
Is your position in this production different to your position in the Australian production?
It’s pretty much the same, actually. I have the same amount of covers as the Australian production, sing the same songs and same choreography. Although I have to wear more wigs as certain characters over here than back home, which is odd.
How are you finding working with another company of performers in a show you know so well?
It was very strange at first to see other actors say the lines that I’ve heard countless times.
The company here are very professional and very friendly. It didn’t take long to get into the rhythm with this cast.
Tell us a little about the similarities and differences between the Aussie production and this West End production?
The Piccadilly Theatre is a lot smaller then any of the theatres back home. There is a much more intimate feeling between the cast and the audience, they are so close to the stage it’s like they are part of the show. Also the script is slightly altered here as there isn’t as much swearing as there was back in Oz. I guess the Brits are a little bit sensitive to profanity compared to us.
The story is exactly the same there’s just a few adjustments in one liners that British audiences would relate to better than us.
Are you finding the London audiences different to the Australian audiences?
London audiences have been great so far. The response to the big songs in the show are just crazy. They love it! And it seems standing ovations and dancing in the isles are the norm over here, as it happens every show. Australians laughed a lot more throughout the show I think, but everyone that I’ve spoken to, whether here or back home, love the show.
Have you been on for any of your covers yet?
I have gone on for my one of my covers thus far. I played Nick Massi just last week. Was great to get out there an dust of the cobwebs, it’s been about 10 months since I’ve played one of the Four Seasons.
I had some really great feedback from the cast, crew and audience which was great.
I really do love playing my character Norm though, not many musicals allow you to play drums and guitar live on stage. I’m very lucky.
Is there a strong Australian presence on the West End? Do you have support from other expats over there?
The only other Aussie that I’ve come across in the West End is currently in Jersey Boys with me. Sean Mulligan who plays Bob Crewe. It’s nice to have another one of us over here showing the Brits what we can do!
How long are you planning on being in the UK? Will this be the start of a long term relationship with the mother country?
I plan to be here until the end of my contract, which is in March. Whatever happens happens, in the mean time I’m just enjoying the ride 🙂