Broadway's Five-Time Tony Award winning show PETER AND THE STARCATCHER recently welcomed a new 'Black Stache' to lead its crew of swashbuckling pirates, Broadway vet Matthew Saldivar. The actor replaced Christian Borle who departed the show on June 30th. Saldivar was recently seen as 'Steve' in the Broadway revival of A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE. His other Broadway credits include Sammy in THE WEDDING SINGER and Kenickie in GREASE. He also portrayed Luther Billis in the 1st Nat’l Tour of Lincoln Center Theater’s South Pacific and appeared in Off-Broadway's The Toxic Avenger.
Saldivar chatted with BWW about how he managed to make the quick changeover from performing in a classic piece of dramatic theater to the hilarious comedy of 'Peter and the Starcatcher.'
It's hard to believe, but you were actually in rehearsals to take over the role of 'Black Stache' while still performing in Streetcar Named Desire. How did you manage to switch back and forth between a serious drama and a much lighter comedy?
That's an interesting question. You know, I was playing a supporting role in 'Streetcar' so it wasn't as heavy duty for me as it was for Stella or Blanche or Stanley. But it's funny, there's something fun about serious drama and there's something kind of difficult about comedy often times. You can have a really good, jolly 'ol time with your colleagues doing the really heavy duty play or a tragedy and you can really become quite exhausted doing a fun loving comedy. But it's great and it was an incredible turn of events that allowed me to have this summer on Broadway. Moving from 'Streetcar' to Peter and the Starcatcher, I'm still trying to process how wonderful that is.
Do you have a preference for drama or comedy? You've done both throughout your career.
I really don't. I love, as everyone does, good material. And I love to laugh and I love to be silly. I love to play a fool - I truly do. One of the great opportunities is to play a fool. But I also love straight plays, I love history. I did South Pacific on tour and again, there's lots of fun in that, but it's also very serious and very smart. And it's just so wonderful to be able to discuss history through literature and through theater. That's just an example of something that I love about acting and I love about theater - in addition to being a goofball!
Speaking of that, you have moments of such hilarious physical comedy in the show. Do you change that up from night to night?
Yes, there is a little bit of play in that. A lot of this show, really most of this show, is very, very carefully articulated and we try to maintain that articulation because it works. It's great construction and it's an ensemble piece and the timing has been worked out in a very sophisticated manner. And that is probably one of a handful of moments that is a little bit more elastic, so that's fun, and it does change a little bit each night.
Had you seen the play before you were cast?
I saw the play the day they offered me the role, so I did my auditions without having seen the play.
So when you saw what you had gotten yourself into, did you have any second thoughts?
Well I wasn't sorry of course but I did perceive that it was going to be a difficult thing to get up to pace with, to get up to speed on, given my commitment to 'Streetcar' and given the fact that I would not be rehearsing with the company as the company learns it, but that I was going to have to kind of fly in. I had some wonderful people help me learn my track and I had a few sessions with the directors and I've since had lots of notes form the directors, and they've been very, very available and very hands-on. But I didn't learn the part in the way that I'm most familiar, which is at the same time as the rest of the cast .
Did you ever have an entire run through with the cast before your first performance?
I did, I had a run through and a put in with the entire cast. But I think that my first public performance was my fourth run-through with people. Some of the understudies came in and had worked with me. Before that last weekend, I had not worked with the entire company.
That's hard to believe because your performance was seamless.