FOR Matt Hunt working in London’s West End doing eight shows a week in the hit musical Jersey Boys is a far cry from his days in Orange as a lifeguard at the aquatic centre.
“I really have to pinch myself sometimes when I think about it, that a couple of years ago I was at the pool working out what to do with my life,” Mr Hunt said.
With a contract nailed down until March next year he says he’s living the dream on stage at the Prince Edward Theatre.
“The show is exhausting but absolutely exhilarating,” he said.
“There’s no doubt it has been hard work as many of the people I work with now have come through the traditional theatre and drama training process,” he said.
However he says as part of the Australian production which toured to New Zealand he felt he would like to spread his wings and try his luck on the international stage.
“So I came to London - I thought I should give it a go,” he said.
With dual Australian and British citizenship Mr Hunt has had no problems with working visas which can be a challenge for many Australian performers looking to work overseas.
His dad David is currently in his birthplace, the United Kingdom and is in fact heading back to see his son on stage again in the next few days.
“Dad’s a great support - he’s seen the show quite a few times, and of course so has my partner Alex,” he said.
Mr Hunt says he attributes his grounding in music in Orange when he was a student at Orange High School where he was able to explore his love of singing and playing drums and guitar as a big factor in helping him land a role in the show.
“As well as the singing and the acting in my role I have to play the guitar and the drums on stage which is great - there aren’t many roles around where you can do that,” he said.
“Mrs Mickle and the whole music department at school gave me such great encouragement.
“And so did the Orange Theatre Company for the shows I worked on since 2004.”
He says his partner Alex Menchin who has joined him in London shares his love of theatre.
The couple met during the Orange Theatre Company’s production of The Wedding Singer in 2009 when Mr Hunt had the lead role and Ms Menchin was a dancer in the show.
“As a dancer Alex really appreciates how much work has to go into what I do,” he said.
As well as working on his own role he is understudying lead roles in the show and has jumped into the leads several times.
Now he has found his niche after pursuing his dream he encourages other young performers to do the same.
“I went to university, and then I came back to Orange before I worked out this was truly what I loved and wanted to do,” he said.