Matt Rodin always hoped to perform on a Chicago stage, but he never thought that experience would deliver so much irony.
"This was my dream, to go on tour with a show and come through my hometown. And the fact that it's happening with this show at this time in my life, is not lost on me," said the Northbrook native.
Rodin plays Jamie in the revised version of
, a Stephen Sondheim musical comedy running from Oct. 31 - Nov. 12 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago.
Rodin's love of theater began at an early age as he watched
and danced around his living room. Still, his parents encouraged him to explore a wide range of interests.
"My parents were pretty insistent that I stay well-rounded," he said.
He was bar mitzvahed at Temple Beth-El in Northbrook, and divided his time between the stage and the ice, playing hockey with the Northbrook Bluehawks. But in eighth grade, when his commitments conflicted too much, it was time to make a choice.
Looking back, the signs were clear.
"My favorite part of the games was the warmups when they would play music and I could skate around in a circle to the rhythm of the music," he recalled.
From that point on, Rodin was all in on theater. As a student at Glenbrook North High School, he sang in the choir, performed in musicals and plays, and hosted the variety show.
After graduating from the Boston Conservatory with a degree in musical theater, he moved to New York City and built a career as a performer while working in marketing, social media, and video production.
"I've always diversified my skill set," he said.
Earlier this year, Rodin received a callback for
, and the timing landed as if someone scripted it.
"At 11 am, I got married in Central Park, and then at 2 pm, I went down to Midtown [for the audition], and I sang this song called "Getting Married Today", he said. "Never in my imagination would I have ever come up with that kind of scenario."
He got the part and now performs that patter song at the end of the first act eight times a week.
"I feel incredibly lucky that I get to relive my wedding day… It reminds me to have faith in the process and in the journey. It just feels right," he said, noting the additional coincidences. "Literally, Jamie in the play says, "I'm 31." So, I'm playing a 31-year -old who's getting married in a gay relationship."
in 1970, and while this version is updated with different genders for some characters, including Rodin's Jamie who was Amy in the original story, Rodin said much of the dialogue is unchanged, remains relevant, and serves as a great conversation starter.
"My husband and I have talked about it," he said, asking, "What does it mean to be with somebody, to grow together, and to commit to one another?"
This traveling production opened just as Hamas launched its attack on Israel, making that first week extra challenging. "My heart is just heavy. I'm sad, and I am so thankful that I have a place to go that lifts me up and makes me feel light," said Rodin.
In addition to visiting his hometown dentist during
Chicago run, and eating at some of his favorite local restaurants, Rodin plans to stop by his alma mater to speak to students.
And if you see the show, don't miss a chance to see Rodin outside the stage door. "I'm going to come out for sure!"
Julie Mangurten Weinberg is a Northbrook-based freelance journalist with more than 20 years of experience in broadcast, print, and digital media.