Meet Matt Whalen
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Meet Matt Whalen
Emma Gingold
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Meet Matt Whalen

Mamma Mia! Spotlight

Matt Whalen plays Bill Austin in our upcoming production of Mamma Mia! Matt is happy to return to Summer Place where he played Fred/Petruchio in Kiss Me Kate, and directed …Charlie Brown and Grease. Recent credits include Joseph… (Baker/Napthali), Bud in Bridges of Madison County (Brightside Theatre), Paul in Company, Jasper in Drood, Sweeney Todd (Wheaton Drama), Hugh Dorsey in Parade (BWW Award-Outstanding Musical), Motel in Fiddler on the Roof, Boolie in Driving Miss Daisy (Harper Ensemble Theatre). Love and thanks to family and friends and his labradoodle, Millie. www.matt-whalen.com

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We asked Matt a few questions about himself.

Q: Who or what inspired you to start doing theater?

A: I was always interested in performing, but it wasn't until seeing musicals that I made the connection that is what I wanted to do.  My first memory of theatre is seeing “Do Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up” at Summer Place (way back when it was outside). My mom taught in the same grade, same school as Stuart Vance, who has appeared in many Summer Place shows, including that one.

Q: What was the musical that had you fall in love with musicals?

A: I would say the show I saw that made me fall in love with musicals was  seeing a High School production of West Side Story, featuring our Donna, Marie Groh! I remember asking my mom all about how to get involved in theatre in High School when I saw it. It's still a favorite of mine.

Q: What is the favorite role you've ever played?

A: Even though it’s not the biggest role ever, I loved playing Paul in Company. I love playing characters that I really like as people. Paul is the kind of person I want to be, and that show was incredibly special to me.

Q: What is the dream role you still want to play?

A: Can someone please do Les Mis? I’d love to do it at least twice, playing Valjean and Javert.

Q: Most challenging part of bringing this story to life?

A: For Mamma Mia in general, I’d say it’s making sure the show is fun, but also has heart. There’s a really sweet story there set to a fun, pop score. The emotions are so universal, so just making sure that part of the story comes through is probably the most important challenge.    

Q: If someone was going to make your life into a movie, who would you want to play you?

A: I would show up to the auditions in a fake mustache.

Q: What do you do when you’re not doing theater?

A: By day, I’m a Sr. Career Advisor at DeVry University. I’ve been there for almost 10 years, and really enjoy helping students navigate their job search. This year, I'm also the Internal Vice President for the Naperville Jaycees. Other than that, I enjoy blogging, spending time with friends, family, and being the best dog dad to my labradoodle, Millie.

Q: If you were stranded on an island, which character from Mamma Mia would you want to have with you and why?

A: I think Sam being an architect, he'd be able to design and build a pretty amazing hut/shelter.

Q: Why should people come see this production of Mamma Mia?

A: I remember seeing the Mamma Mia tour before it went to broadway, and what I remember was being totally entertained by the music and humor, and genuinely moved by some of the more emotional moments. I feel our production will have all of those aspects.

Q: Have a favorite YouTube/Instagram/Vimeo video of you performing?  Tell us about and provide a link if you'd like to share:

A: This is from my last show, Sweeney Todd. Our Toby fell ill, and wasn't able to go on one night. It was determined I was going to do the role that night 30 minutes before curtain. Watch it here!

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