Theatre Interview: Hilary Doyle
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Theatre Interview: Hilary Doyle

hilary.jpgFor the past two and a half months, actress Hilary Doyle has been playing Matt Damon in Matt & Ben, which is closing for good this Sunday at the Poor Alex. The little off-Broadway play that could has been a surprise success in its Toronto incarnation this fall, playing to solid houses and being extended twice. Last week, National Post theatre critic Robert Cushman wrote of this celebrity-hilarity that it is “still the best in town.”
Doyle, a graduate of Northwestern University’s theatre program (she was a freshman there when Zach Braff was a senior), returned to her home town of Toronto after graduating and joined Second City, playing in such mainstage shows as Bush League of Justice, Armaget-it-on, and Invasion Free Since 1812. Torontoist caught up with the dynamic Doyle over the weekend and asked a few questions — e-mail style!

How’d you get into theatre, anyway?
I launched my theatre career officially at age six and a half, with a self-produced, critically-lauded staging of Cinderella the Musical, which I wrote, directed and starred in on the Zemanek’s front lawn on Airdrie Road. Prior to this, I was just dabbling. Most of the acting talent on my street was younger than I, and I was in a holding pattern while they perfected their language skills.
What’s the worst thing that’s happened during Matt & Ben?
I got laryngitis. Enough said.
Best thing that’s happened during Matt & Ben?
I’ve got to do Matt & Ben — well, act in Matt & Ben, anyway… It played for 10 months off-Broadway, and the two girls that wrote it and starred in it initially ran the show in some incarnation for about two years. I totally understand how they did it. It sounds obsequious, I know, but it is a blast to do.
It’s a pleasure to be on stage with Jane Spence (Ben). She’s a phenomenal actress and a wonderful person. Our set is incredible, our stage manager Tanya is brilliant, our tech director, Mark, is hysterical (he’s an actor who’ll be appearing in Fever Pitch, the upcoming Farrelly Bros. pic about the Red Sox). I could go on. Our producers are a totally passionate group of young people who haven’t slept in months and who are trying to re-define the way that theatre works in this city. It’s been an incredible experience, and we’re currently in our second extension.
So, doing the show has been the best thing, but I have a couple of other high ranking “near bests” so that I sound like less of a suck.
One: This elderly woman started chatting with us while we were doing the play. She started by repeating our lines aloud to her husband, then began responding to rhetorical questions in the script and finally just struck up a conversation with Jane and I.
Two: A cashier at H&M asked me for my autograph because she’d come to see the show. I almost burst into tears, I was so excited to hear that somebody had come to see the show who wasn’t related to me. I think I probably freaked her out.
Three: I wasn’t going to mention it, because I realize that it will probably be misconstrued, but here it is… We have a farting ghost. It’s okay. She never leaves the backstage/stage area, so if you’re in the audience, you’ve got nothing to worry about. But, there it is. Think what you will, but a farting ghost resides in the Poor Alex.
Where’s your favourite place to hang out in Toronto?
They’ve all got women’s names — interesting for someone who’s been playing a dude for three months. Julie’s on Dovercourt, Olivia’s on Clinton, Mitzi’s on Sorauren. Also love the Swan and, from what I’ve read on your site, Laide sounds pretty awesome, so a month from now, that may have joined the ranks. Thinking back, I got an invitation to an event celebrating their opening and I erased it. Thought it was spam for a penis enlarger.
How much longer does Matt & Ben run and how does one get tickets?
The show is on for another week. It has to close on the 12th of December, so until then, we’ve got shows at 8 pm Tues through Friday, shows at 4 and 8 on Saturday, and a pwyc matinee on Sunday at 2. Tickets are $20, but with a donation of food for the Daily Bread Food Bank, or a children’s toy for the CHUM City Christmas Wish, your ticket’s only $15. We have a Matt & Ben Hotline that you can use to reserve tickets. The number is 416.350.5673. The box office opens an hour before showtime, at the Poor Alex Theatre (296 Brunswick Ave, just south of Bloor), and you can always pick up tickets at the door.
You should all know that on Wednesday nights, at Labyrinth (the bar right next to the theatre), there are $2-3 martinis. Spend the 5 bucks you saved on a ticket on a couple of martinis before the show, and then meet us there afterward.
Matt or Ben?
Definitely Matt.