Kevin Ray Johnson
I’d like you to meet the talented Matt Shingledecker!
Matt is currently starring in the National Tour of Les Miserables playing one of the central roles of Enjolras, the leader of the ABC Cafe. Matt has appeared on Broadway in Spring Awakening, West Side Story (Tony), Wicked (Fiyero), Off-Broadway in RENT (Roger), and in the first National Tour of Spring Awakening. I first saw Matt perform on Broadway in Spring Awakening, and after that, I had the chance to work with him when he starred in a staged reading of my play The Unpredictable Time in the summer on 2015 where he played the lead role of Henry.
Enjolras is without a doubt one of my favorite roles in theatre, and when I heard that he was cast in the role, I honestly couldn’t think of a better choice. For him, it was something new and exciting. “As one who usually plays romantic leads, an idealist completely disinterested in companionship is both a challenge and a blessing to play," he told me.
Matt knew he wanted to pursue theatre as a profession ever since he was a junior in high school. “I was cast in Charleston Stage Company’s production of Bat Boy: The Musical as Pan who sings Children, Children. I was paid a whopping $125 Stipend, and I thought to myself, “I’m Rich!”. Before that, it was a hobby for him. In the third-grade, when he was cast as Bubble Gum BART in his Porter-Gaud School’s production of Christmas At the OK Corral, the biggest highlight for him was being exempt from the “No Gum on Campus” rule.
Having had the chance to work with Matt in the past, the one thing I can truly vouch for is his positive attitude and energy he brings to any project he does. In his career, he also emphasizes positive reinforcement because no matter how insignificant it may seem to you, it truly may be a pivotal force in someone else’s life.
Any artist will tell you that they couldn’t have done it alone. I, to this day, will forever be thankful for Dr. Molly Donnelly at Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland as well as Ms. Gipe at Northwest Highschool in Germantown, Maryland. I was curious about who helped Matt mold his career in a strongly positive way.
He stated “There have been so many people along my journey as an actor who have been instrumental to my success. From my voice teach in Highschool, Mary Gould, to my experience at Elon University, and finally my current voice and acting teachers, Greta Damrau and Laura Henry respectively, all of whom have positively shaped who I am as a performer as well as a person.”
Every artist has a pivotal role or show that turns the table in their career. For Matt, it was when he played the role of Roger in the Original Cast of the Off-Broadway production of RENT. “It marked a major turning point in my life because of the sheer power of Jonathon Larson’s music and lyrics, not to mention the people involved, particularly Any Senor, our assistant director.”
But there is a saying that (well actually I just made it up but if you’re a theatre person you know its true) for every favorite RENT moment you have a favorite Les Miserables moment. For Matt, he says that ‘One Day More’ is his. “One of the best Act 1 Finales ever written, and of course and (spoiler alert) falling backward off the barricade. I get to sing an opera and fight a war 8 shows-a-week. How Lucky am I?”
For any young artist wanting to pursue theatre, Matt Shingledecker has these words of wisdom for you. “Never stop learning. Experiential work is never enough” he also quoted Pablo Picasso, “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist."
Being someone who has seen this young man perform on Broadway, Off-Broadway and in some of my own work, I can completely say with all confidence that Matt Shingledecker is truly worth the price of admission. If the tour of Les Miserables is coming near you, I strongly suggest climbing over any barricade in front of your way and going to see it.
Check out this video of Matt Shingledecker and the entire cast of Les Miserables rehearsing One Day More
For more information on the Tour of Les Miserables and if it is coming to a city near you please visit – www.lesmis.com/us-tour