is the grass any bluer...

is the grass any bluer...
on the other side?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Seckman is Everyman in The Jungle Fun Room

Seckman is Everyman in The Jungle Fun Room

Over the past few years as I've covered the arts here in Lexington, I've witnessed so many brilliant performances, it's hard to keep all the casts of characters (both onstage and off) straight in my lil ol' head.  

However, Matt Seckman is always memorable because he's one of those players who makes his mark in a role in his own unique way.  I remember seeing him a few years ago in Woodford County in Oliver! and then recently, at the arboretum in SummerFest's Merchant of Venice - but when I learned he was to have a key part in the regional premiere of Brian Hampton's The Jungle Fun Room, I knew I wanted to find out just where he's been, and why he wanted to audition for Screg, the pivotal character in this lively and delightful comedy.  
Matt Seckman as Solanio in Merchant of Venice

Seckman didn't want to spoil the pleasure of my own surprising discovery from the work -- so he had to dance around my questions a bit (and now that I've experienced The Jungle Fun Room, I am eternally grateful).  Matt plays the role of Screg who he describes as "a veteran cast member of the Jungle Fun Room. He’s been working at the JFR for quite some time, and is the go-to guy for all the other members of the group; he’s their leader and their rock...but during the events of the play, you’ll get to see how he handles having several wrenches thrown into what should have been an average work day."

Apparently,  he has had as much fun exploring Screg's character as much as the audience loved watching him survive the comedic chaos.  "I heard about the show through the grapevine, having just worked with Bob (Singleton) in Merchant of Venice this summer. I knew I wanted to audition for this show the minute I started reading the script. I love the script and the characters in it are fantastic. Throughout the rehearsal process I realized how much I have in common with Screg and I’ve had so much fun discovering him."

When asked how Screg is similar/different from his role in Ave Lawyer's clever directorial interpretation of The Merchant of Venice, Seckman pointed out, "Screg couldn’t be any more different then Solanio, the character I played in The Merchant of Venice this summer. Solanio was a debauchee and a bit of a bully. He was a spoiled rich kid who enjoyed parties, cocaine and the harassment of others. Screg…well, Screg is nothing like that…at all. He’s the anti-Solanio. Some people may not even realize I’m the same actor."   

He explains the tranformation from bully to bulwark is a little tricky in that "Screg is an everyman. He’s your brother, your best friends or even yourself.  So, the biggest challenge with this role is bringing a sense of realism and familiarity to the character. As an actor playing a character in a contemporary play, there is the added challenge of providing a realistic representation the character; the audience will know when you’re faking it, and when you’re not. Oh, and volume of course!" he chuckles.

Matt has been performing throughout Lexington and Versailles since he moved to Lexington in 1998. "I played Titus in The Curious Savage (The Woodford Theater), Bob in The Christmas Presence (WT), multiple roles in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Summerfest), Dr. Dake in Seussical the Musical (Lexington Children's Theater), Tim in Noises Off! (WT), Rapunzel’s Prince in Into the Woods, Abel Frake in State Fair (Paragon Music Theater), the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz (WT), Stanley in When Pigs Fly (UK) and 9 different characters in The Laramie Project (Imperial Court of KY/Balagula Theatre) and John Lennon in Strange Days Indeed (UK).  Surprisingly enough, The Jungle Fun Room will be my first show Studio Players!"

I reminded him that I thought I'd seen him in Oliver with the precociously talented Scott Dimeo, and he thoughtfully replied, "Yes I was in Oliver with Scott. I played Noah Claypool, the kid who picks on Oliver when he moves in with the Sowerberry's and I was also in the chorus. I use the word 'kid' lightly becuase the character is supposed to be about 14-16 years old and I was 27 when I played him! Hah!  Because I had to shave for Noah, I had about 5 mintues to stipple on a beard for my chorus role so I would look different and let me tell you...It was a pain in the butt...but thanks for the recognition.  :)"

MATT SECKMAN ON HIS SECRET TALENT:  "Ever since I was kid I've liked cross stitching.  Don't know how I got into it, but I've always loved anything crafty.  While I don't do it very much anymore...I think I'm pretty good.  I just got a Zombie Cross Stitch kit as a gift and I think it's pretty representational of my strange interests and hobbies.  Maybe I'll be a cross stitching zombie this year for the Thriller Parade. LOL!"  

THE JUNGLE FUN ROOM by Brian Hampton

Directed by Bob Singleton

The Jungle Fun Room centers on a group of struggling actors who spend their days working children's birthday parties at the New York City Zoo. When an eager new worker arrives fresh off the musical theatre conservatory boat, followed by the birthday girl's Oscar-winning Mom, it throws all involved into an emotional and hysterical loop where they're faced with past and ...present realties of their roles in show business and in life.

The Jungle Fun Room premiered at the New York International Fringe Festival in 2009. Studio Players will be presenting the Regional Premiere of this award-winning script.


Screg.....Matt Seckman
Eve.......Jennifer L. Workman
Shelly.....Allie Darden
Trevor....Alex Maddox
Hilary.....Amy Faust

September 16-19, 24-26, October 1-3, 8-10
- Opening night, Friday and Saturday performances begin at 8:00pm
- Sunday matinee performances begin at 2:30 pm

Playwright Brian Hampton will be in attendance for the opening night and Friday (Sept 17) performance of The Jungle Fun Room.

There is also a midnight performance after the October 1st show. Doors open at 11:00 pm. It's a pay-what-you-can performance. All donations go to support or friend and local actor Bob Johnson in his fight with Cancer.

All performances $16.00
Students: $10.00

859.225.0370 or visit

What an ensemble of extraordinary talent Bob Singleton has chosen for this hysterical comedy by Brian Hampton, who is himself simply a delight to meet!  

Hampton's play has all the right elements for an evening full of laughter that will have you giddy as a child by the last scene.  Allie Darden, as Shelly, is the ultimate ambitious and somewhat self-centered co-worker we've all known and loved (and feared). Alex Maddox, as newcomer Trevor is the perfect foil for Shelly's domineering diva dogma, as Jennifer Workman's sensible and energetic Eve tries to keep the party moving without the inevitable hitch.  Amy Faust is also the perfect choice for celebrity Hillary Parker, whose visit to The Jungle Fun Room throws a monkey wrench into the machinery that Screg has become comfortable in operating.

My friends and I giggled ourselves silly at the regional premiere last night at the Studio Players Carriage House and meeting Brian was one of the highlights of my year.  He was exceedingly gracious and grateful for my little bloggy-blog effort herein and even gifted me with a sweet Playbill message.


I plan to go again -- several times -- because you just can't have too much fun!     Hope to see you at the show!  

peace, y'all,

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