“I’ve been acting non-stop since high school. Theatre simply feels like it has always been a major part of my life. This is actually my first major role and show in Manhattan and and it has been a fantastic experience,” say Matt Frenzel, who just graduated from Queens College and embarks on a professional acting career in the same month.
Frenzel plays Jack-of-this-trade in celebrated play- and screenwriter, Rollin Jewett’s new work, THE BIG DREAM. This surreal piece follows an actor on the brink of a nervous breakdown whose life begins to circulate around him. Or is it his exaggeration of his life? Or is it all lies? Or is he a lie? or is he real?
A lot to unpack first time out of the gate. Ai spoke briefly with Matt after one of his few live rehearsals about this challenging role and the life of an artist.
What are the challenges of doing an interactive play? And what are the challenges of doing one NOW?
While doing a play or musical, involving the audience very directly is always a fascinating dichotomy of intensely daunting and so extremely fun. The main challenge is, well, the audience doesn’t know how the show is supposed to go, so once you pull someone into this, you really have to be prepared for anything. I try to not think too hard about what they MIGHT do because I genuinely have no idea. I’ve always been pretty good at thinking on my feet so I generally enjoy the interactivity. The challenges NOW, however, are of course amplified because of social distancing and masks. We have to be extremely careful because, yes, we are interacting with our audience, but at the same time we have to remember that we are still very real people who are living through a very real pandemic and we have to make sure we are being safe.
Elaborate on your feelings and concerns about returning to the live theater.
I am extremely excited to return to live theatre. It’s incredibly surreal. I feel so lucky to be a part of one of the first shows that people will be experiencing post-COVID. At the same time though, naturally we have to keep in mind COVID safety and health precautions. As much as we all love the theatre and it is a major part of our lives, the health and safety of our community and of our city are most important. But I am confident that all of the proper precautions are being taken and this will be a very safe experience.
What’s next for you?
As an actor who has mostly only done community theatre and high school theatre before this, I just hope more opportunities like this are next for me. This experience has been truly life changing and I would love to be able to build an actual career as an actor. It’s what I have to do. It’s who I am.