I have been a HUGE fan of these two since the first time I discovered Witness Uganda. They are two of the most inspiring individuals and have created an absolute masterpiece of a musical to spread love, positivity, and acceptance. I was so excited to interview them and discover that one of their greatest pieces of advice during their creative journey was to workout and take voice lessons. It’s amazing how important both our vocal and body health is to our success! They are just downright phenomenal human beings and Matt & Griffin are utterly and completely FIT FOR BROADWAY!
Q: Witness Uganda is spreading amazing positive energy! As with any big project though, it’s incredibly hard work. How are you able to stay positive throughout the process?
A: The business of making musicals is inherently a collaborative process because it takes so many people to help tell the story. We’re incredibly lucky to be surrounded by some amazing friends, mentors, and collaborators who are very interested in helping us to tell Witness Uganda in the most unique way possible. It’s a musical based off of events that we’ve lived so our team has been really supportive in letting us be our own little “engine.” Any time artists feel supported, we’re far more likely to be happy people!
Q: What role has fitness and health awareness played throughout your development of Witness Uganda?
A: When we found out that Witness Uganda was going to have its world premier at ART, we called our friend Patina Miller who had just finished Pippin at ART and we asked for her advice. She gave us two gems: 1. Take voice lessons. 2. Go to the gym. And that’s exactly what we did. Musicals are marathons! Even more so when you’re writing and performing in it! We knew we had to be in the best physical shape so that our bodies wouldn’t give out under the pressure. We hired Rodrick Covington, owner of Core Rhythm Fitness, and he put us on nutrition plans and an intense fitness regime. Griffin put on 15lbs of muscle and Matt lost 10lbs. Best shape of our lives! Never missed a show!
AMAZING!! : ) so dedicated!! -J.
Q: Have you had any challenges throughout the process affect your health?
A: Biggest challenge was (and will continue to be) maintaining a healthy lifestyle. We had to cut out bad habits: way too much drinking (Griffin!), yelling (Matt!), candy eating (Griffin), yelling (Matt), not working out (both), tv watching (mainly Griffin) and eating whatever we wanted (mainly Matt). Stop. Turn around. Go the other direction.Q: Tips for keeping your voice healthy…
A: I hired Joan Lader as my voice teacher. My first lesson with her, she was talking all kinds of crazy talk: bite into an apple, blow through a straw, blow your nose, touch your toes, smell a rose… I was like, “dear Lord, what have I done??” Four weeks later, I was singing like I’d never sung before! She also encouraged me to stop talking on the phone, stop going to loud restaurants where I would have to shout to be heard, and of course drink embarrassing amounts of water. I almost drowned.Q: Do you follow a specific diet?
A: Griffin’s diet for gaining weight/muscles: eat everything in sight. Matt’s diet for staying lean: eat nothing.
Q: What has been the most rewarding part of Witness Uganda?
A: The most rewarding part of Witness Uganda was the young people flocking to the theater. I think Witness Uganda touches on a lot of issues that are facing our generation: race, sexuality and religion, aid work and digital connectivity. So it was beyond thrilling for us (and our cast) to exit the doors of the theater and have people waiting for us to continue the conversation. We met some of the most remarkable young people in Boston (and beyond) who are passionate about affecting change in their communities and world.Q: Quote to live by…
A: “The genius thing we did was, we didn’t give up.” Jay Z AND “Love more.” my grandma
Q: Who or what inspires you?
A: Our kids in Uganda constantly fuel our fire. They’re genius. They’re hilarious. They remind us why we started writing this show in the first place. We’ve watched them grow from middle school, through high school, through University, and Graduate school, and some are married with children. It’s an epic journey and we couldn’t be more proud of them.Q: Do you think being of service to others is just as important to someone’s health as say, going to the gym or eating healthy?
A: Service to others is the only way to be fully alive. I’m not even talking about traveling abroad, I just mean, recognizing other people’s worth is so humbling. Everyone’s got a story. Every story is unique. And you can (and MUST) learn something from every story you hear.
Q: What is the overall message of Witness Uganda?
A: Witness Uganda challenges the viewer to question whether changing the world is possible. My answer: it is. I believe that now more than ever. I’ve seen it. We’ve lived it.Q: What is your advice for those trying to perform on Broadway OR write a musical?
A: You should only attempt to write a musical about something that keeps you up at night. The process of bringing a musical from idea to full blown stage production requires so much time, energy, manpower, money, and passion that you should ONLY take it on when you have a story that is so important to you that you’ll die if you don’t share it! There is a commonly held belief that people go to the theater because they want to escape their lives. This belief is false. People spend all day escaping their lives; walking past homeless people, avoiding calls from estranged family members, shutting out the pain of losing jobs and people we love. We go to the theater because we want to fully experience all the wonderful and painful parts of living that we rush by everyday. It is our responsibility as writers and artists to create and support work that inspires, challenges, and wakes up audiences to our humanity, our potential, and our power to affect change in the world.
Q: If you could sum up Witness Uganda in a hashtag, it would be…