Mat Hostetler is familiar to Denver audiences for for his work with the Denver Center Theatre Company, Creede Repertory Theatre, Colorado Shakespeare Festival and graduate productions at the National Theatre Conservatory. He returns in the national touring premiere of War Horse and took a break to tell us about life since Denver.
Q: So you spent some of your childhood in Glenwood Springs. This is a bit like coming home, right?
A: Absolutely! Perhaps, even more than being my physical home for many years, Colorado has always been my creative home. I started acting when I was in Glenwood and did a lot of community theatre in both Glenwood and Aspen. While in college at the University of Kansas, I came back to Colorado and worked at Creede Rep. Then, after many years away, I came back to Colorado to attend grad school at [National Theatre Conservatory] and had the privilege to work with both the Denver Center and Colorado Shakespeare Festival. So many tremendous teachers and mentors in Colorado have helped me along the way, I’m just so grateful.
Q: So we see that this is your first national Broadway show tour, what’s that like? Good at packing yet?
A: Yeah, I’ve got the packing down to a science! I was terrible for the first few cities, but you learn quickly! It’s been such a thrill, getting the chance to perform in some of the most beautiful and historic theaters in the country. Every week or two, we walk on stage and the house looks completely different. That’s a pretty unique experience.
Q: Tell us about your character, Veterinary Officer Martin.
A: Well, I can’t say much without giving too much away, but he has a pivotal role towards the end of the show. In doing a lot of research about World War I, and specifically about veterinary officers, it’s difficult to fathom what they saw from day to day. The estimated number of horses that were lost in WWI is truly staggering.
Q: How does one person understudy 10 roles? I mean, really, ten?
A: It’s pretty crazy! Fortunately, we have had the opportunity to rehearse every role we understudy, and being in the show every night helps keep it all fresh in our minds. I’ve already gone on in about half those roles, and will likely have done them all before the tour ends. It’s fun to have that different energy on stage from time to time!
Q: You’ve done a lot of television since graduating the National Theatre Conservatory (NTC) and moving to New York. How does TV differ from the stage?
A: I actually really enjoy doing TV. I know, sometimes that’s not the case with stage actors — of course, we all love the paycheck in television – but I really do feel comfortable in that world. Of course, it’s a totally different animal from theatre. As much as I enjoy TV, I’m not certain it could ever hold up to the energy and joy of being on stage every night. There’s nothing like live theatre. I’m very fortunate to get to do both.
Q: And you’ve gotten married since you left Denver, to fellow NTC alum January LaVoy. What’s she up to? How is married life when you’re on the road?
A: January is great! Thanks for asking. When we got married in September of 2011, she made me the happiest and luckiest guy in the world. She’s been doing quite well, just finished a production of Good People at the Pittsburgh Public, and before that was at the Alliance in Atlanta doing the world premiere of What I Learned in Paris by Pearl Cleage. She has also become quite a force in the audiobook world. If you haven’t listened to any of her stuff yet, you should do yourself a favor and pick up The Diviners by Libba Bray. January’s work on it is simply stunning. I know, I’m biased, but still…
And as for married life on the road, it certainly isn’t easy, but we’ve managed it pretty well. We try to see each other once every four to five weeks. We’re racking up tons of airline miles! In the most difficult weeks, we try to remember how lucky we are to be two working actors. It’s a rare thing in this business.
Q: The Colorado audiences miss seeing you. You were certainly a favorite at Colorado Shakespeare Festival (Three Musketeers, Macbeth, Hamlet) and our Theatre Company (Merry Wives of Windsor, Richard III, Christmas Carol, Trip to Bountiful), plus roles at Creede Repertory Theatre. Miss Denver? Fondest memories?
A: Too many to name, really. Three Musketeers was probably the most fun I’ve ever had on stage. Truly. Merry Wives at the Denver Center was a blast as well. Getting to work with that amazing cast — with David Ivers directing. What a treat! And there’s no experience quite like a summer in Creede. But, all in all, I’d have to say the National Theatre Conservatory will always be my fondest memory of my time in Colorado. I’m just so grateful for every minute I spent there.
Q: How long will you be in the first national tour of War Horse? Where will we see you next?
A: I’ll be with War Horse through June. Then it’s back to New York to see what’s next. I’ll keep you posted!
The National Theatre Conservatory, a Master of Fine Arts graduate acting school at The Denver Center for the Performing Arts, is currently presenting NTC Rep - two productions playing back-to-back in repertory through April 21, 2012. The selections? CHARLEY’S AUNT and FAHRENHEIT 451.
We asked some of the students to share their favorite memories of the three-year program as they gear up for these rigorous productions:
I have particularly fond memories of our Movement Project. I had never experienced anything like it before, and really haven’t done anything quite like it since. The project was created entirely by our class (with the guidance of Mr. Bob Davidson, of course), so I really felt a sense of pride and ownership over the whole process. It was marvelously collaborative, and everyday I had the opportunity to literally exercise new muscles. Working on a trapeze is hard, awkward, and often uncontrollable. But it becomes beautiful, and the integration of art and the physical is something I truly relish. I hope to take the skills and passion that I gained from that project and our ongoing work here back to New York with me, where quite a few NTC alums have continued to embrace the awkward, uncontrollable, and eventually beautiful nature of trapeze and indeed, theatre.
What a wonderful time it’s been here at the NTC, these last three years. I have been truly blessed to have this oportunity. A memory that will always remain indelible for me was my time during out callback weekend here in March of 2009. I was nervous, anxious, and out-of-breath due to the altitude. They gathered the 30 or so of us, lucky attendees in a room, and we embarked on an afternoon of nonstop artistic soul-bearing. I have NEVER experienced such an awe-inspiring display of gracious and willing talent. Everyone was phenomenaI! I remember thinking “I don’t stand a chance!” But how humbling it was, I thought, to be chosen to compete and share with these incredible artists. I was honored to not only witness that weekend’s work, but to also be a part of it. And for that, I will never forget it.
My time at the NTC has been full of many cherished moments. One of my favorites may have been the first. The NTC has a callback weekend as the final step to making it into the 8 students who make the next year’s class. You perform a monologue for a large group of intimidating faces. All the current students, the 30 callback guests, board members, artistic directors, faculty and more. I performed a monologue that is set in town hall style meeting, so instead of one person behind a desk I got to perform it for 50 plus people- and they laughed, a lot. It was an incredible feeling and made me feel like the NTC was meant to be for me.
I also remember feeling a great sense of accomplishment after Solo shakes. I was determined to pull off a trapeze stunt of flying off scaffolding in wedding dress on a trapeze. I had the vision so clear in my mind and it felt amazing to actually pull it off. Nothing beats flying through the air over the heads of audience members in a a big poofy skirt and with puffed sleeves.
When I think back over the past three years of happiness and heartbreak, there are many moments which stand out in my mind as unforgettable, for better or for worse. One of my absolute favorite memories actually has less to do with me and more with one of my classmates. Our 1st year, the third year students were in the middle of rehearsing thier Repertory shows (Tartuffe and Hamlet), when one of the actors accidentally got injured and had to sit the shows out. With only a day before the show’s opening, the director asked my classmate Andrew Schwartz if he would step in and play the role of Hamlet in the last act. Our class was right in the grips of our movement project, on top of classes 6 days a week and all the other trials and tribualtions of a theater grad school. Not only did my friend and classmate step up to the task, he excelled in the performance. He flawlessly braved the boards, and made all of the NTC realize that we truly are a family. I don’t know that I ever told him how proud I was of him that opening night, or how much I admired his courage. I think we all learned a little something about courage that night, and found the answer to the question was in fact: To Be.