Rising star and certifiable theater heartthrob Matt Doyle knows his way around a big Broadway show. After Spring Awakening, Bye Bye Birdie and War Horse, the actor is about to take on his biggest role yet as Elder Price in the smash-hit musical The Book of Mormon. Doyle steps into the show on November 27, but before he puts on his temple garments and name tag, we chatted with Doyle at his solo concert at Rockwood Music Hall to get the story on his Mormon mission.
Tell us about the journey that landed you in The Book of Mormon.
I actually did one of the earliest workshops of Book of Mormon about four years ago. I was in the ensemble, and I fell in love with the piece immediately. It’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen, so I’ve been following it for a really long time; I got to see the show this past year, finally, because the first year I was doing War Horse [as Billy Narracott] and nobody could get a ticket. I started auditioning for it and five months later, I get to start as Elder Price! It’s unbelievable.
What was it like being in the early workshop?
I had a "younger brother" role that was actually cut, but there were a lot of changes that happened to the show over time. I think everyone who was a part of it—whether in a workshop four years ago or two years ago or in the Broadway production—knew that it was going to be an explosive hit. It was so funny and it was so different, and it was taking such huge risks, and on top of that, the music was brilliant. We all knew it was going to absolutely explode.
Mormon is such a stark difference from your last show, War Horse.
It is, isn’t it? It’s insane. I cannot believe that I’m doing both the Best Play and the Best Musical from the 2011 season. Growing up, I never thought that that would happen, but I’m thrilled. And it’s so, so different. With War Horse, you walk in and you prepare to do a show about World War I for three hours. With Book of Mormon, you walk in and everybody’s just like, “HEY! How ya doin!?” It’s such a different environment and a different soul.
Is it daunting to join a show that's such a huge phenomenon?
It’s daunting, but exciting. From the moment I walked into the door for my first rehearsal, this cast was so welcoming and enthusiastic and happy to have me there. I’m so honored to join this group of people because the way they communicate with each other onstage really [shows that] it’s an ensemble piece. You watch these numbers, like “Turn It Off” and “Hello,” and it’s fascinating. Everybody’s got such a strong character, and the comedy that comes out of working with each other is just brilliant.
Are you excited for your parents to see the show?
My parents have not seen the show, but I remember telling them about it all the way back when I first started reading it and getting involved. My dad’s a pretty religious guy, so he might have problems with it here and there, but they’ve been warned. I think ultimately what the show says about religion in the end—that it brings communities together—is a beautiful message, so I think they’ll be all right!
Run, don’t walk to the Eugene O’Neill Theatre to catch Matt Doyle bringing down the house in The Book of Mormon!