Update: Matthew McGee last night won a Helen Hayes award for outstanding supporting actor in a play. That’s a big deal!
Fresno State’s Brad Myers watched the award presentation online and got a little choked up at McGee’s acceptance speech, in which he thanked his parents (who traveled from California for the ceremony) and acting professors Myers and Leslie Martin. (You can listen to McGee’s heartfelt speech, in which he admitted he was scared to make the move to D.C. but was so glad he took the chance, here. Go to the 1:14 mark.)
How important is this award to McGee’s career? One of the hosts noted that a Helen Hayes award is highly esteemed by people on Broadway, and that having one in your back pocket can get you through lots of doors.
Original post 01/29/13: Fresno’s Facebook theater community is abuzz with the news that recent Fresno State graduate Matthew McGee scored a nomination for outstanding supporting actor in a play in the 29th Helen Hayes Awards, which represent excellence in Washington, DC-area professional theater. In doing so, he’s in the company of such nominees as Kathleen Turner, Paul Downs Colaizzo and Christopher Sieber.
1. A TWIST ON ‘BEAUTY’
Leave it to director Joel Abels to come up with a fresh take on the oft-seen “Beauty and the Beast.” His new StageWorks Fresno show, which features a youth cast up to age 16, uses small “object” or tabletop puppets designed by Matthew McGee, pictured below. A tip: Get tickets early. This is a small venue. Read about the show in today’s 7 cover story.
The theater department at California State University, Fresno has an impressive tradition of sending students to the premier collegiate acting competition in the nation. Matthew McGee is the most recent of these as he competes at the American College Theatre Festival in Washington, D.C.
McGee and his scene partner, Aaron McGee (his little brother and fellow Fresno State theater major) beat out nearly 250 other nominees competing in the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship in the regional ACTF festival. Now they will compete tonight against 15 other regional finalists for top honors.
I caught up with Matt via Facebook on Tuesday night to talk about the competition.
Question: You and Aaron will be performing three selections. What are they?
Answer: The scene selections are from Martin McDonagh’s “The Pillow Man,” Moliere’s “The Would Be Gentleman,” and a musical solo from a play still in progress (that I am actually writing with a friend, Bill Heisdorf…) called “Wiley and the Hairy Man.”
[Pictured: Video screen shot of Matthew McGee and brother Aaron in front of the Kennedy Center.]
Congratulations to Matthew McGee, representing Fresno State’s theater department, who beat out hundreds of other contestants in Los Angeles to become one of two American College Theater Festival regional finalists for the prestigious Irene Ryan acting award. He’ll go on to Washington, D.C. in April to compete for national honors.
McGee competed with his scene partner (and brother), Aaron, another Fresno State actor. (Yes, it runs in the family.)
The preliminary competition included more than 250 student actors, who were narrowed down to 33 semi-finalists, which was then cut down to 16 finalists. Fresno State’s Ryan Woods also made it to the final round.
You might recognize McGee from a November Beehive post detailing his quest for a win in Sprint’s Epic Short Film Contest. He lost. But this is a MUCH better thing to win, Matthew. Maybe we can talk you into sending us video updates from your competition at the Kennedy Center in D.C.
OK, time to engage in some old-fashioned geographical boosterism: Local actor/puppet master and Fresno State alum Matthew McGee (who was so good in the recent CenterStage production of “Of Mice and Men”) and collaborator (and Ratflix guru) Evan Commins are entered in the nationwide Epic Short Film Contest sponsored by Sprint on Youtube. It’s one of those “get everyone I know to please vote for me every day” online contests in which the top 10 vote getters achieve a special prize — in this case the chance to be judged by director Michael Bay and compete for the $25,000 top prize.
Click on this link to vote. Good luck, Matt and Evan.