Age & Hometown: 25 (“I’m a Pisces!”), Wendover, Buckinghamshire, England
Current Role: Finding his corner of the sky as the ambitious title prince in the new circus-inspired revival of Pippin.
Great Adventure: Growing up in a small town outside of London, Matthew James Thomas spent his early days “climbing up drainpipes, running through endless fields and exploring old ruins.” An adventurer at heart, Thomas was encouraged by his artistic parents to try anything he set his mind to—including stage and screen acting. At eight, Thomas made his West End debut, understudying the lead in Oliver, and he was immediately hooked. “I feel the same on stage now as I did when I was young,” he says. “I’m so overwhelmed by the mystery and how alive everything seems to me onstage.” After the West End, Thomas “played lots of people’s sons” on TV and scored roles in the blockbuster films Billy Elliot and About a Boy. “My parents were always ready to let me try something new,” he says now. “I was so lucky.”
Spidey Sense: After briefly starring on the British TV series Britannia High, Thomas was invited to New York City by Julie Taymor to take part in Spider-Man’s “worldwide search for Peter Parker.” Although the young actor had no aerial experience, his adventurous spirit won over the creative team. “I’m always doing new things—I’m never afraid to hurt myself or get cuts and bruises,” he says, adding, “Well, so long as I’m not breaking legs.” Thomas booked a flight to New York, and before long, he had scored his first Broadway gig, flying high twice a week as the alternate Spider-Man/Peter Parker. And although soaring around the stage may sound scary, Thomas insists heights are a breeze. “I’ve climbed a lot of drainpipes in my day!” he says with a laugh.
Magic to Do: Thomas and his Pippin co-stars earned accolades at New England’s American Repertory Theater this winter, but now that they’ve hit Broadway, Stephen Schwartz’s tuner really hits home. “The cast has such a history together, and now, we really are a set of traveling performers, just like in Pippin—there’s a fascinating energy running through the company.” Also reprising his role is the star’s own “handsome” two-year-old pup Porridge, who has a cameo in the revival. “He knows exactly what he’s doing,” the actor jokes. “He’s got me wrapped around his little paw.” Thomas is in awe of the entire Pippin troupe, including circus performers “who can do literally anything. They can walk on air,” he says. “This whole thing is so exciting and I don’t want it to stop!”
Click below for more photos of Matthew James Thomas by Broadway.com photographer Jenny Anderson!