Behind the Scenes: In the Limelight

TPAC’s Humanities Outreach Tennessee first exposed a young Matt Logan to the possibilities of a career in theater, but it wasn’t until he stepped onto the stage as Gaston in his high school’s production of Beauty and the Beast that his extracurricular pastime became a full-time pursuit. Not long after graduating from Pepperdine’s theater program, he moved to New York where he worked on Broadway in costuming and casting for plays including The Lion King. He also gained — and maintains — an impressive reputation for his black-and-white caricature drawings of theatrical performances and was hailed by the New York Times as an heir to the Hirschfeld tradition.

In 2009, Matt returned to his hometown and co-founded Studio Tenn, where he served as artistic director for nine years and worked on more than 40 productions. Since his departure in late 2018, Matt’s been very busy. In November, he received national praise for designing not one, not two, but three costumes for Reba McEntire's performance of "Fancy" at the CMAs. Currently, he’s finishing up costume designs for Virgin Voyages and is in the midst of designing outfits for Reba’s upcoming tour. His biggest venture, Matt Logan Productions, already has projects in the works, including a collaboration with the Rabbit Room and Belmont University where Matt is producing, designing and directing The Hiding Place. He’s particularly excited about the educational component that Belmont brings to the table because, as he puts it, “The best way to invest in the future of our city’s theater artists is to inspire them with quality today.” Matt talked to us about Broadway, Nashville and what’s next.

Name: Matt Logan

Profession/Title: Designer/Director/Artist

Hometown: Nashville

Zip Code: 37064

Yards of fabric used to make Reba's "Fancy" dresses: 25

What’s the most challenging costume you’ve ever designed? Reba’s “Fancy” trio of outfits for the CMAs. What appeared effortless was weeks of rigging and weighing to get the tricks to work right. Let me say Reba was patient.

Is there an artist or show that would be a dream project for you? Designing and directing Amadeus. I saw the movie in second grade and have wanted to do it ever since.

What’s your favorite Broadway show? Ooooooh, tough. Light in the Piazza, Sweeney Todd ... hard to choose.

What’s the first Broadway show you worked on, and what was your job? I was a swing dresser on the Broadway revival of Oklahoma!

Why is it important for people to support local theater? It’s a perfect reflection of the community and all the talent living among us. In addition, it’s the perfect example of the phrase “it takes a village,” yet it also unifies that village.

What drew you to caricature drawing? Al Hirschfeld. He created the language that I try to speak. I’ve never seen an artist make one line express so much. I’m struggling to keep up and honor the legend.

Is there a local personality or group that you would like to draw? Dolly Parton — she is an earth angel.

When you have out-of-town guests visiting, where do you take them?  Station Inn to see New Mondays with Carl Jackson and Val Storey. It just doesn’t get much better than that.

What’s the best place for cocktails?  Rare Bird at Noelle Hotel in Nashville. I love this rooftop bar and their incredible seasonal drinks.

For some peace and quiet, what do you like to do?  Kayaking down the Harpeth. It’s pure heaven.

What’s your favorite local event? The annual Bug Ball benefiting The Theater Bug. These kids in the program will astound you. Every year this event confirms my passion for young artists, especially at The Theater Bug with Cori Laemmel.

What person has influenced your life the most? My great-grandmother, Ethel Logan. In her lifetime she went from horse and buggy to computers. She was my babysitter as a child and cared for my family with such devotion. She was the perfect balance of strength and compassion. She taught me what unconditional love is, and beyond that, she was an excellent cook, gardener and craftsman.

What three people would you love to have as guests at a dinner party? Mike Nichols, Elia Kazan, and Sam Mendes. I would just grill these three directors who have shaped the way I work.

What’s the one thing you hope never changes about Nashville? The fact that it’s a songwriting town, a storytelling town.I believe that will keep our city grounded. 

What’s the most memorable show you’ve worked for? Gypsy on Broadway

What’s your favorite new restaurant?1799 at the Harpeth Hotel in Franklin. Such a great dining experience.

What is one luxury you can’t live without? Driving a nice car. I finally bought a Mercedes a year ago and I feel spoiled just running errands. It’s self-care. Ha!

What are you currently binge watching? Schitt's Creek —I cannot get enough of it. Ha ha!

What’s one thing you want to cross off your bucket list? My work on a Broadway stage.