The Beat previews the touring production of the musical 'Memphis' with cast member and former Columbus resident Peter Matthew Smith
If home is where your stuff is, then Peter Matthew Smith is coming home.
The actor is back in Columbus with the touring production of the musical Memphis this week. The tour stop affords Smith the chance to check in on his worldly belongings, in storage here since he and his wife, former ABC6 news anchor Amy Lutz, left Columbus so Smith could join the show. Lutz is also traveling with the tour.
"I guess, technically, we're homeless," Smith joked during a phone interview with The Beat.
Columbus is the most recent place the Pittsburgh native and former New York City resident has called home, but last fall, the couple decided to take a chance that the national tour of Memphis was the right opportunity for Smith to get back into the Broadway "scene."
"(Amy) told me to go ahead and audition" when the touring show was announced. Smith was involved with Memphis during its developmental stages, "always coming close," he said.
"I knew I was right for this show."
The tour producers agreed, casting him as an understudy for Huey Calhoun, the show's male lead, and in two other roles – slow-drawl DJ Buck Wiley and uptight TV executive Martin Holden.
"I like that Huey isn't a traditional leading man," Smith said. "He's quirky and fun."
Memphis, with music by Bon Jovi keyboardist David Bryan and Joe DiPietro, follows Huey, an aspiring radio disc jockey, as his ears are opened to black rock 'n' roll music, and his subsequent attempts to get it played on the radio and love affair with a beautiful black singer. Smith said despite the show being set in the '50s, a lot of the cultural tension still rings true. And the music "resonated with me."
Smith has been doing music and acting since he was young, encouraged by the teacher of an acting class to take the theater seriously. His first professional work was as a teenager in the film Striking Distance with Bruce Willis (which filmed in Pittsburgh), his one scene cut from the film.
After his junior years at Point Park College, Smith went to New York to audition for Rent. He was cast, left school to join the tour, and became a NYC resident when he joined the show's Broadway cast. He lived and worked in New York for 10 years, doing four other Broadway shows, then lived in Pittsburgh for a while before Lutz' work brought them to Columbus.
During the two years the couple lived in Columbus, Smith did some commercial and other acting. He recently appeared in CATCO's production of Evil Dead the Musical.
Acting and touring, he said, is "like riding a bike."
He may just have one of those in his storage unit.