As Waitress continues its successful First National Tour, Matt DeAngelis, who plays the abusive husband Earl opposite his real-life fiancée, Christine Dwyer, speaks about life on the road. Matt had previously starred in the Broadway production, before joining the tour.

Why don’t you start out by telling everyone how you first got interested in being in show business?

Christine is my fiancée and we both grew up doing theatre in Massachusetts. We went to the same preschool. We didn’t know each other until we got down to New York. I grew up doing theater in Massachusetts around Boston. I went to Boston Conservatory, moved to New York where I’ve been for 14 years. I made my Broadway debut in a revival of HAIR in 2009. I stayed in that show for a year on Broadway [and] went over to England for six months. Then I did the tour for that a year and a half. I left that and did the first national tour of American Idiot, the Green Day musical. I did that for the entire time it was Union; seven and a half months. I took some time off then launched the first national tour of Once. I did that for two and a half years on the road. I did some TV came back and did Waitress on Broadway from January of 2017 until this past September when Christine got this job. They pitched it to us to do this tour together and I’ve been out with the tour since October 2018. But I was on Broadway from January 2017 until October 2018.

You have been in some great shows and played great characters. What are some of the standout shows you’ve been involved in?

I’ve been very fortunate. All the shows I just listed are so cool. Hair means a lot to me because it was my first big part in my first big show. I played Woof which is not one of the three leads but one of the next rung down which was a lot of responsibility. Once was my favourite script to do. It’s Edna Walsh and it’s a brilliant script. I miss doing that show. But, honestly, I love this show and I think it matters now. I think it’s exciting that I’m in this show with an all-female creative team on Broadway where the last three bows are women where it’s not necessarily just about a love story like man meets woman. It’s about a strong woman who goes through trouble. I think it’s really important for right now. Also, it’s made me become friends with Sara Bareilles who is one of my favourite songwriters that is also a cool person and the best boss any of us could ask for.

In Waitress, you play your real-life fiancée’s abusive husband. That must be interesting. What is that like for you?

We didn’t know what it was going to be like when we said yes to this job. Neither one of us are method actors. We are kinda ‘leave it at the stagedoor’ kind of people. It’s actually been surprisingly fun to play these scenes with her because she’s such a good actress. It’s nice to do these scenes with somebody you trust because Earl does whatever he wants. He comes in, he says whatever he wants, he does whatever he wants, he comes in and blows in and blows out and leaves. It gives me a lot of freedom to go there and to do crazy stuff because I know that we trust each other. Also, and I’m just guessing, I think if I was an audience member, not that there aren’t great actors out there with great chemistry, but I feel like we talk and stand and are physical with each other in a way that a couple would be as opposed to two actors that don’t know each other for as long as we have. I hope that we’re showing an accurate picture of a screwed-up relationship. I’d like to think that it rings true because we actually are in a relationship.

The word that Christine used was “trust” to describe the relationship onstage. It’s important to know that the words being said onstage are not the words you mean in real life.

It’s not as violent as the movie. They toned it down for the musical. But, all of the themes are still there. There are times when I grab her and do things. I’m probably a little more physical with her then I would be with an actress I didn’t know as well. That requires trust too. We respect each other as actors so much. We teach together. We run a business together where we coach acting. We A – trust each other as people and as a couple. But, B – we really do respect each other as actors so that helps too.

If you had not gotten into show business what do you think you would be doing?

I would probably be teaching history and coaching high school basketball. I played basketball in college before I came to do this full-time. History, because it’s still storytelling. It was my favorite subject in school. I was never a note taker. I never took notes. I was the person who would listen to the teacher and then when the test came, I’d remember what they said. I think that especially in history, it was great because I loved stories.

What do you want people to know about Waitress?

I love this show and it’s been a real blessing to be able to travel with my future wife and our dog. But, it’s also been a real blessing to take this story to America. I think it’s got something for everybody. The old adage we say is just if you’re out there in America and you’re on the fence and you don’t like musicals, I think you might like Waitress. You should come try it.