Maths graduate Matthew Ronchetti returns to the city of his studies…. to bring the music of Abba alive in the smash-hit musical Mamma Mia.
The show is at Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre until October 8, a tour date which offers familiar territory for Matthew who plays the priest at the end of the show, is part of the ensemble and also understudies Sam and Harry.
“I was at the University of Southampton for three years from 2008-2011, doing a mathematics degree. But I was finding I was spending more time with the local musical theatre society than I was doing the maths. But I did get the degree!”
And it means that when he is “resting”, instead of the usual bar and waitering job that actors resort to, Matthew is a popular maths tutor. And not even touring can stand in the way of that. If accessible, on a Sunday, he might pop back to London to catch up with some of his pupils.
“But it is lovely to be back in Southampton. I was saying to the rest of the cast that Southampton has got like its own micro-climate, that it was going to be sunny there!”
Matthew joined Mamma Mia in January last year: “We were on the international tour. We started in Liverpool – which doesn’t sound very international! And then we went to South Africa and around Europe. We were in South Africa for about six weeks. We went out in March. It was cold here, but it was just coming into their autumn which was lovely. We were in Johannesburg.”
But Matthew is particularly pleased to be touring the UK tour now – for the simple reason that so much of the humour is so very, very British, as he says: “I think the thing is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. There are some emotional moments, but at the same time, the whole thing is about making sure that everyone has a fun time.”
In addition to his priestly duties at the conclusion and to being part of the ensemble, Matthew is also understudy to two of the possible dads in the show – “I usually explain it as the Pierce Brosnan one and the Mr Darcy one!”
He has covered the Sam role a couple of dozen times this year, which sounds enormously nerve-racking. The fact is that at five-minutes’ notice, he could find himself playing one of the leads.
“But actually, the rehearsals are so intense that you are ready, and obviously you top yourself up by watching the show. But really it is just fun. You have just got to be ready for if it happens.”
Matthew remains with the show through to Plymouth in February next year.
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