Colin Hurley, on table as Sir Toby, with, from l., Mark Rylance as Olivia, Paul Chahidi as Maria, Peter Hamilton Dyer as Feste, Matt Harrington as Olivia’s servant, and Terry McGinity as a priest in “Twelfth Night.”.
He’s a California Yankee in King Richard’s court.
Matt Harrington plays multiple roles in the repertory production of “Twelfth Night” and “Richard III,” now through Feb. 16 at the Belasco — but one thing he doesn’t play is the standout.
It’s not humility. Unlike Harrington, all his fellow actors, including star Mark Rylance, are English.
He’s mastered the Bard — and the accent — but he still worries about authenticity.
“If I was doing Oscar Wilde in Baltimore, I wouldn’t get called out for not being British,” says the 32-year-old NYU grad. “But now I’m surrounded by the real deal. I’m up there talking. I could definitely get called out.”
Being the lone American in the all-male production from Shakespeare’s Globe in London raises the stakes on nailing the plummy vowels and consonants.
So far so good. Harrington plays a number of small roles in each play, but his vocal work hasn’t given anyone a reason to scream “Bloody hell!”
©2013 Joan Marcus
Matt Harrington in “Twelfth Night”
Harrington’s natural affinity for the Bard has come in handy. “I’ve always loved Shakespeare,” he says. And excelled at it. In 1999, as a high school senior, Harrington won the English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition by reciting a sonnet and a speech from “Two Gentlemen of Verona.”
He doesn’t even work with a dialect guru. “My vocal coaches are my fellow actors,” he says.
It also helped that he rehearsed in London, where he soaked up the rhythm of British English — and practiced while running errands or ordering a beer.
“When I would go to a pub and get my fish and chips I’d order like I was a local,” he says. “Then I’d ask, ‘Did you know I wasn’t British?’”
His director, Tim Carroll, says Harrington has been a perfect fit with the Globe troupe.
“It’s a remarkable achievement,” says Carroll. “I suppose Matt might have been nervous when he began working with the company, as so many of them were already familiar with each other, but you would never have guessed it.”
Harrington’s current roles in “Twelfth Night” aren’t his first experience with the show. He was studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 2002 and saw the show when it premiered at the Globe.
“I never thought that a decade later I’d be in the show,” he says.