Letscher jumps from ‘Must See TV’ to theater | SummitDaily.com

Letscher jumps from ‘Must See TV’ to theater

NEW YORK – The trajectory of Matt Letscher’s recent acting career might seem a tad strange on the surface: In one year, he has gone from “Must See TV” to classical theater at Lincoln Center.But Letscher has managed to complete the transition with ease, giving a widely acclaimed performance in Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s “The Rivals,” an 18th-century British comedy of manners directed by Mark Lamos and running at the Vivian Beaumont Theater through Jan. 23.Letscher’s last big role before “The Rivals” was on the sitcom “Good Morning, Miami,” which had a two-year run on NBC before being canceled. Letscher says his time on the sitcom made for a smooth transition to “The Rivals,” despite the vast difference between the two productions.”Week in and week out you’re doing a half-hour play for a few hundred people,” the 34-year-old Letscher says of his time on television. “So the idea of being in front of an audience, and maybe more importantly doing comedy in front of an audience, wasn’t that intimidating for me because I had been doing it for the last two years.”In “The Rivals,” Letscher plays the dashing Captain Jack Absolute, who falls for Miss Lydia Languish but must disguise himself as a poor naval officer because the idealistic Lydia insists on marrying a poor man for the sake of true love. Then, his father arranges for the real Jack Absolute – the rich kid – to marry Miss Languish, forcing him to keep up two identities.His hilarious pursuit drives the play forward and serves as the catalyst for memorable performances by Richard Easton (the father) and Dana Ivey, who plays Mrs. Malaprop (Lydia’s aunt). Mrs. Malaprop’s penchant for bungling her words is so famous that the word malaprop was created in her honor.”These plays are so well-constructed,” the tall, lanky Letscher says as he sips a cup of coffee while sitting in the green room at the Beaumont, adorn with posters from past Lincoln Center Theater productions. The casually dressed actor has just attended a circus performance with his two young children. “Once I heard who else was involved, it was kind of a no-brainer.”Easton is perhaps the biggest name in the cast, with a distinguished theater resume that includes several notable Shakespearean roles. His experience with “The Rivals” goes all the way back to when he was 14 and starring in a Toronto production of the play with a fellow youngster named Christopher Plummer.Now Letscher represents the younger generation, and Easton is impressed with what he has seen.”He’s perfect. He’s a perfect classical actor,” said Easton, who began 2004 playing the title character in a celebrated production of “Henry IV,” also at Lincoln Center. “He’s very clean. He’s very visible. You see exactly who he is. He has a very clear consciousness of himself. He’s also a little goofy, which helps.”Letscher got his start in acting in Michigan, where he grew up and attended college. After graduating from the University of Michigan, he landed a role in a play written by actor Jeff Daniels, who runs the Purple Rose Theatre Company in Chelsea, Mich., and who later hooked up Letscher with a part in the 1993 Civil War drama, “Gettysburg.”Letscher got numerous television jobs throughout the 1990s while building his resume by doing regional theater in the West. He made his Broadway debut in 1997 in Neil Simon’s “Proposals,” and “Good Morning, Miami” started in 2002.

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