Matt Turner was a main-stay in The Voice Squad until 2009. At the end of last month, he made his debut on Broadway in ‘Broadway Play Goes Wrong’. We caught up with him to get the run-down on his favourite Voice Squad memories and how he went from treading the boards of Bury St Edmunds, via the West End to the boards of Broadway …
When were you in The Voice Squad?
I was with Voice Squad from about 2003 I think (Birgitta allowed me to join early because she thought I was older than I was…rule breaker!).
What was the first show?
The first one I did with them was West Side Story and it remains, to this day, one of my favourite productions I’ve been in.
What other performance highlights did you have when in The Voice Squad?
Getting to perform at the BBC Choir Of The Year Finals at the royal festival hall, that was bangarang.
Did you have a favourite piece/song that you loved to perform?
This is so hard to think of just one favourite song, I loved a lot of them. I had a real soft spot for ‘Job Centre’ – a medley that Birgitta created by putting lyrics to famous classical tunes. It involved a lot of running around and being stupid which I’ve always enjoyed and I also loved ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ for similar reasons. At the other end of the spectrum are ‘He Never Sleeps’ and ‘In Every Heart’ which are just beautiful pieces of music.
What’s your most amusing memory of your time in The Voice Squad?
Being asked to dress up as a Nun and belt ‘Climb Every Mountain’. I look back on that as a defining make or break moment for me.
So, what did you do after you left The Voice Squad?
I went straight from school to LAMDA (The London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art) and studied acting for three years (BAHons – first … LAD!). We covered a whole array of styles: classical, clown, mask, physical theatre, musical theatre, modern plays, Shakespeare/Jacobean etc.
What did you do after you graduated from LAMDA?
I was in a satirical news cabaret in the Canal Cafe Theatre called – NewsRevue. It involves a cast of four who all write and perform the sketches themselves and the show depends entirely on what has been in news that week. I did that for six weeks and was then very lucky to almost immediately land a job in the Borrowers at Northern Stage (Newcastle) … not playing a borrower. I know. Mental.
This turned out to be a real humdinger as it was directed by the then artistic director of Northern Stage, Erica Whyman, for whom it turned out to be the final show there as she had been offered a job as the assistant artistic director at the RSC. A real unexpected bonus.
Ah … yeah … that’s not great. Then what happened?
Well, over the course of 2013 I did a lot of low paid/profit share work at various London fringe venues (Romeo & Juliet and Still Life both at the Old Red Lion, The Boys from Syracuse at The Union) finishing the year in Sleeping Beauty at Park Theatre in Finsbury park which was a particularly fun place to be.
How did you then get involved with Peter Pan / The Play That Goes Wrong?
In 2014, I joined my mates’ (from LAMDA) theatre company, Mischief Theatre. They were in the middle of touring their show ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ and needed some more people for their improvised show, which I was happy to do.
I did that with them in Edinburgh that Summer and then we toured ‘Peter Pan Goes Wrong’ and then ‘West End Play That Goes Wrong’. I stayed with them when they took ‘Peter Pan Goes Wrong’ to the West End and now ‘Broadway Play Goes Wrong‘ at The Lyceum Theatre, New York.
I have a lot to thank that company for.
That’s amazing! Have you got any other exciting plans on the horizon?
I’ve just joined Showstoppers – The Improvised Musical so hopefully I can do more of those shows when I get back to London.
How do you think that that your time in The Voice Squad prepared you for the West End and Broadway?
I learnt so many fundamentals of performance from Birgitta and The Voice Squad. I think the main one being work hard and then commit to the work. If you’ve done the work there’s nothing to worry about so just give it everything. If you’ve not done the work you can do your best to sell it but chances are that the director will see straight through you and no amount of gurning can save you from that. Having a good work ethic will actually mean you have way more fun, and that’s why we all perform after all. To have fun.
When I was thrown on in the interval to make my Broadway debut as the lead (the guy hurt his neck in the first half but I didn’t know anything about it until the interval) it was these rules and lessons I relied on to get through it. It was nerve wracking but I still managed to enjoy it … I mean it’s a bit of a blur but from what I can remember it was fun.
So thank you Voice Squad and Birgitta, I owe you an awful lot!