Out actor Matt Rodin speaks on queer-inclusive ‘Company’

From left, Matt Rodin as Jamie and Ali Louis Bourzgui as Paul in the North American Tour of ‘Company.’ (Photo: Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade)

On July 3 of this year, out actor Matt Rodin rushed from his wedding in Central Park to a final callback for the national tour of the Stephen Sondheim musical “Company,” which is coming to the Forrest Theatre for a two-week engagement beginning Nov. 28. Still in his formal attire, he performed one of the show’s signature songs: “Getting Married Today.”

In the original version of the show, the tune about a bride with cold feet is sung by the character Amy, as she contemplates leaving her devoted fiancé at the altar. But in director Marianne Elliott’s revised production, Amy has become Jamie, a young gay man grappling with the new privilege of marriage equality. Talk about life imitating art. Needless to say, Rodin got the part.

“I don’t know how many people get to say they sang this song on their actual wedding day,” Rodin told PGN. “But for me it’s incredibly special, because I get to relive a piece of my wedding eight times a week.”

Rodin recognizes the parallels between his own life and the character he is playing. 

“Jamie is 31 and I’m 31,” he said. “I’m in the first year of my marriage, so I’m navigating what being newly married is like. To be able to get to live in that on stage every night is such a privilege.”

The North American Tour of ‘Company.’ (Photo: Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade)

“Company” follows a tight-knit group of New Yorkers led by Bobbie, a single woman about to turn 35. This is another update for the current production: In the original, the character, then called “Bobby,” was played by a male actor. Rodin appreciates the contextual changes made for the current staging, especially how the updated iteration portrays a modern gay relationship.

“When I saw [the Broadway production], I was incredibly moved by this story of this person who was navigating singledom among her married friends, and what the show says about partnership and marriage,” Rodin said. “Frankly, it made me feel comforted in the sense that partnership and marriage is not clean-cut. It’s complex and interesting, and ultimately, I think the show says that it’s worth it.

“Particularly in the case of Jamie and Paul – which was Amy and Paul originally – so many of the queer relationships that we are exposed to in the media are at two ends of the extreme,” he continued. “You sort of have the stereotypical happy, funny gay couple like Cam and Mitch in ‘Modern Family,’ which I love, or you have trauma and pain and suffering. At the time, I didn’t really feel that there was anything like what ‘Company’ was doing in terms of its representation of a soon-to-be married queer couple in all of their intricacies.”

A native of Chicago, Rodin was bit early by the theater bug. 

“My mom woke me up every morning singing show tunes, so musical theater was a part of my life pretty early on,” Rodin said. “But the earliest memory I have is of seeing a high-school production of ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ when I was about five. After that, I knew that this was something that I wanted to be a part of. The idea that everyone was coming together, on stage and behind the scenes, I was incredibly excited about the idea of being a part of that.”

Rodin experienced a moment of homecoming when the “Company” tour played an early engagement at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago. 

“It was a homecoming beyond anything I could have possibly imagined,” he said. “I had over 300 people come over the course of the two weeks we were there. Basically everybody I had ever known growing up: My parents’ friends, my parents’ clients, my kindergarten teacher, my first-grade teacher, my high-school drama teacher, my choir teacher, my hockey coach from when I was nine years old. The list goes on and on. I always wanted to go on tour so that I could go home to Chicago and perform on the stages where I’d seen so many shows growing up, and to do it in this capacity really blows my mind.”

Rodin is already looking ahead with excitement to spending some time in Philadelphia. 

“My husband and I talk about how much we enjoy going down from New York to visit there,” he said. “I’m really excited to have two weeks there, because it means I’ll be able to do some exploring during the days.”

The national tour of “Company” runs Nov. 28-Dec. 10 at the Forrest Theatre, 1114 Walnut Street. For tickets and information, visit kimmelculturalcampus.org

Britney Coleman as Bobbie (center) and the North American Tour of ‘Company.’ (Photo: Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade)