Many an actor has a tale to tell, and a goodly number of them have turned their stories into solo performances, most of which end up acts of shameless self-promotion. Well, perhaps that’s a bit of an overstatement, and one unbecoming a website which prides itself on “accentuating the positive in Los Angeles theater.” Still, there is some truth to this exaggeration, which is why when I tell you that I loved every minute of Matt McConkey’s Matt Becomes A Man, it is a statement to be taken seriously. The Scenie-Winning star of last year’s The Boys In The Band not only has a story worth telling, it’s also a story worth taking center stage with, as the handsome, talented, ingratiating, and very funny young actor does in his absolutely captivating hour of self-discovery.

Matt’s story begins when he gets dumped, “… by a dude,” which prompts a quick apology to the ladies in the audience. “Don’t you love it when gay guys say that? ‘Sorry ladies. Can’t have this!’ I don’t say “Sorry ladies” because I’m not a dick. Instead I just say … congratulations, fellas!”

The freshly dumped McConkey does what any newly single gay man does—he journeys into cyberspace, though it’s a visit to Facebook (and not an M4M cruising site) that prompts online friend Casey to suggest that Matt apply to appear on The Locator, a TV show that reunites adopted people with their birth families, a suggestion to which Matt replies promptly that “It’s not my thing.” (What he really means is “that I applied to be on the show and got no response. Twice.”)

Matt’s curiosity about his birth parents reflects no dissatisfaction with his Ohio adoptive folks, or as Matt puts it, “I was not looking for my ‘Real Mom,’ because it simply did not get any better than what I got.” Still, once the idea has been planted in Matt’s brain, it takes root, and in Matt Becomes A Man, Mr. McC takes us along, not only on an investigation into the past, but on a trip to the Jersey Shore, New York City, and South Beach Florida, the results of which are as rewarding as any adoptee could hope for, and as rewarding (and funny) a solo performance as any audience could wish to enjoy.

Along the way, McConkey displays a sly and occasionally self-deprecating sense of humor, as when he talks about peers who “have focused on their careers and are now writing and starring in network television shows and major motion pictures. Which is like, that’s fine, if you’re into that sort of thing.”

Some of Matt’s tale is told in song, as in this snippet from a ditty his shrink suggested he write about his former flamers (sorry, former flames): “Dear Jimmy, You were my man. Even though your dirty talk sort of sounded like a middle aged woman. And one time you said you’d never heard of Amsterdam. And I said, ‘Oh, Oh, Gotta go.’ I said, ‘Oh, I see, You’re retarded. Gotta go….’” (For those like this reviewer who assumed after his performance in The Boys In The Band that Matt McConkey was only an accomplished comedic-dramatic actor, it turns out he can sing melodiously and play a nifty guitar. Who knew?)

To recount his journey into his past, Matt comes prepared with visual aids, beginning with a slide of what he believes to be his birth father’s Ohio State University soccer team. Matt’s personal fave amongst his possible sires is a certain Gil Pratte, whose overall hotness prompts his friend Erin to be “like, ‘Oh, because he’s the best-looking one.’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah.’”

It turns out, though, that Matt is barking up the wrong tree, or rather the wrong state, as sassy Long Beach “Adoption Specialist” Lisa informs him in “a Micro SÓFT Word Document” (her emphasis) detailing the name and actual whereabouts of his birth mother.

What then transpires is about as heartwarming a tale as you’re likely to hear all year, featuring one delightful story after another—with actual reunion pix to prove that the whole thing really happened.

Under Drew Droege’s assured direction, Matt Becomes A Man provides a terrific showcase for McConkey’s multi-talents, its most recent incarnation the first to feature Matt as guitarist-vocalist—a keeper for future performances.

If only reality TV were half as entertaining—and half as worth seeing—as Matt Becomes A Man.

–Steven Stanley
February 28, 2011
Comedy Central Stage At The Hudson

Matt’s United Citizens Brigade bio:
Matt graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Stella Adler Conservatory. He’s an original cast member of the long-running Upright Citizens Brigade show Worst Laid Plans: True Stories of Terrible Sex, and is featured in the show’s coffee table book and audiobook from Random House. Matt was recently seen in LA’s revival of Boys In The Band at the Coast Playhouse, and has also performed in Four Stories & A Cover and Audition! at the UCB. He does commercials, standup, and enjoys looking like Rachel Maddow.

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