Lyric Arts had a chance to interview Matt Berdahl, who is performing as Ren McCormack in Footloose . Read on to hear what he has to say about his experience thus far! LA: Tell us a little bit about why this particular musical interested you?
MB: I believe both actors and audience members know this show and want to experience it at some point in time. In that way, it reminds me of some of the standards in musical theater, Grease, Sound of Music, Oklahoma!, etc. Plus, the soundtrack offers some Jukebox hits that even my ears perk up to. Any musical that has “Holding Out For A Hero” has my attention.
LA: For those that are unfamiliar with Footloose can you tell us about the show?
MB: Footloose is largely based in a town where pain has immensely influenced the “moral compasses” of its inhabitants. This has caused the majority of the population to live their lives in a way they wish they didn’t. As time plays its part in each characters life, underneath all the songs and dancing(or lack their of), true growth occurs. After the show, hopefully you leave the theater not only entertained, but also with genuine thoughts of self-improvement.
LA: Talk about the character that you play in Footloose. How have you developed this character?
MB: This question has always rubbed me in a weird way. Every character in any show requires the ability to pull from real life experiences and doing the necessary homework to understand the role. Each actor however has their own “magical” process/ method to their madness. In my opinion, it should stay just that. Personally, when I myself am an audience member I don’t wanna know “baggage” going into the show/ movie. I just wanna see the characters come to life and connect to what I am watching in that moment. Non the less, I am Ren McCormack.
LA: Why should people come and see Footloose?
MB: It’s a staple. If you consider yourself a musical theatre fan and you haven’t seen it live on stage, fact is you need to. Lyric Arts also does a fantastic job of bringing their shows to the community though affordable tickets and multiple shows to fit any schedule.
LA: Talk about your fellow cast members, how do you see their characters developing? Any that you are particularly amazed at?
MB: It’s a positive cast and everyone is doing the job that is expected of them, if not more. Matt McNabb wants a show that Lyric Arts audiences remember as being the best at what it was. Everyone is very on board with that mentality. It is a good feeling to be apart of that.
LA: What do you feel are the "wow" elements of Footloose?
MB: I had to hit the ground running when I came onboard for this production already in progress and one of the first things that WOW’ed me was how much the cast had already bonded and their level of energy. It was refreshing and really set the bar in my mind for a fun/ productive time.
LA: What is your favorite aspect of the show?
MB: The scene work, without question. This show is known for the music and dancing but the heart of the story is in the narrative. Like in every show, the direction could go a number of ways and I am thankful that Matt McNabb steered the scenes that I am involved in towards an honest and genuine emotion as much as possible, even in this created theatrical world of song and dance.
LA: Tell us what is something that you are particular excited about this show coming to together? For example, a certain scene, costumes, set, lights, etc?
MB: All of it coming together! This show has so much singing, so much dancing, and so much acting that when all those elements “click” it will be a great feeling for not only me but the audience member’s sittin back and soakin it in.
LA: What is your favorite play or musical? Why?
MB: It is ever changing. I enjoy shows that affect me in a positive way. Not that I have to laugh and chuckle throughout the entire show, more so that it is through the laughter, anger, smiles or tears that I am inspired to be a better person.
LA: What is your dream role to play on stage?
MB: There are several parts I hope to play before I leave this earth, however there is not one specific role that stands out amongst the rest. I guess my bucket list is always evolving with every show I am exposed to and as I navigate my theatrical strengths and passions. If you have any suggestions for me, I would love to hear em…. Really.
LA: What is the first production you were ever involved with? What did you do in the production?
MB: The Phantom Tollbooth in my middle school years. I wore the hats of stage hand, set builder and all around “techy” for the show, and it was my playground. Looking back I am glad that I have had the opportunity to experience all the different roles that encompass theatre. Just as in school, middle though college, with each new show or theater company I work with I am able to continually appreciate theater from a new angle. A liberal education is very enlightening and a strengthening foundation to stand upon.
LA: Please tell us a little bit about yourself?
MB: I was raised in Moorhead, MN and have been active in theater and/or music all of my life in some way shape or form. After graduating from Moorhead High School, I made my way to Minnesota State University Moorhead with the goal of becoming an Art Major with an emphasis in Graphic Design. In true questioning college fashion, my focus changed between Art, Social Work, Criminal Justice, and Philosophy. In time however I was able to I pinpoint where my real passion was, Theater. I graduated college with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre (Musical Theatre, Performance, and Directing with a Dance and Women’s Studies Minor).
I am the kind of person that likes to experience all facets of life. Over the years I had the chance to perform with multiple summer stock theaters, local and regional companies and even dabbled in film. I then took the opportunity to focus on children’s theatre with the National Theatre for Children, for whom I toured with for a year. This was a very rewarding experience both as a performer as well as a human being. After living on the road and traveling the country from Boston to Texas, I was excited to put down some roots and embrace the Twin Cities “Theatrical Scene”. This area always has something to offer and I am enjoying the present time with smiles of the future. Theater is my career, my passion, and my hobby. I am glad I can share what I love to do with people on the stage and off the stage.
LA: Any other area that you would like to comment on?
MB: You and I get out of it what we put into it, enjoy the show… enjoy life.
For more information about Matt please visit his website www.matthewdberdahl.com or find him on FACEBOOK.