Alum and musician is touring with professional theatre troupe. With more than 100 musicals behind him, Matthew Croft currently is traveling the country with ‘Guys and Dolls.’
Notre Dame alum Matthew Croft (’06) currently is on the road with a national tour of “Guys and Dolls,” originally one of Broadway’s most enduring musicals. The tour, which is being staged by Big League Productions out of New York City, began in December in Florida and finishes up at the end of May in New London, Connecticut. In between there are more than 50 performances of the Tony Award-winning play with Croft as assistant conductor and keyboardist in the pit orchestra.
He loves what he’s doing—he’s got more than 100 musicals on his resume—and says sitting with the nine-piece orchestra and 23-person traveling company is something he thinks he was always meant to do . . . well, at least since high school.
“I realized pretty early on that I wanted to go into music for a career—something that my music teachers at NDP and college as well as my private teachers encouraged me to do,” Croft said in an interview last month from Santa Barbara, California. “I originally wanted to study film music, but I discovered Broadway music and pit orchestras, and I immediately knew that’s where I should be.”
He spent a lot of time in his formative years studying classical music, i.e., theory, harmony, composition, conducting, etc., and he played as many shows as he could fit into his schedule in order to gain as much experience as possible. All that work seems to have paid off, he said, but his time at Notre Dame Prep and later at Wayne State University, where he studied music composition and conducting, also played a big part as well.
“I owe a lot of my success in college to my music teachers at NDP,” Croft said. “Joe Martin and David Fazzini both were a great help, working with me to develop my skills as a pianist, a composer and an arranger. They also gave me the opportunity to have my compositions played by the band and choir, and to learn how to conduct and lead a group—all skills that have come in very handy in my current career.”
While learning his musical chops at NDP, Croft also worked for an outside professional theater company and even conducted the musical “Hair.” He continued to hone his skills while in college, including two years with the Meadow Brook Theatre as a keyboard player and assistant conductor.
“I got involved with Big League Productions through my work at Meadow Brook Theatre, which was a big break for me,” he said. But Croft believes it was more than just a big break that led to his current success.
“At NDP, David Fazzini and Joe Martin were nothing but encouraging and helpful my entire time there. They really pushed me to be creative and to work hard.” He also credits former NDP teacher Russ Cannon, who pushed him to “really think outside the box” and to be an independent thinker.
When his schedule allows, Croft would love to visit Notre Dame and work with current music students. “As a musician and someone who went on to a successful music career, I feel it’s very important to provide encouragement to the younger students in terms of a career in the arts,” he said. “The arts tend to get overlooked in a lot of ways, so I think the more that I and other alumni who are working in the arts can do to encourage and develop young talent at NDP through visiting, mentorships, etc., the better it will be for them. It’s a great way to give back to NDP!”
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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. The school's upper division enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower divisions enroll students in jr. kindergarten through grade eight. All three divisions are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school's home page at www.ndpma.org.