Writer, Composer of Broadway-Bound Musical Coming to Campus
Sept. 2, 2015
BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— The writer and composer of a Broadway-bound musical will present
music from the show at 8 p.m. Sept. 10 at Illinois Wesleyan University’s Hansen Student
Center. The performance is free and open to the public.
creators Griffin Matthews and Matt Gould will present selections from their award-winning
musical. Based on the true story of Matthews’ humanitarian trips to Uganda, the musical
premiered at the American Repertory Theatre in 2014 under the direction of Tony Award
winner Diane Paulus. Witness Uganda twice received the Richard Rogers Award for Musical Theater. The show is currently
in rehearsals for its Broadway opening as
in spring 2016.
The story follows Griffin, an American volunteer from New York City who arrived in
Uganda in 2005 to help build a village school and escape his church’s probing into
his sexuality. But when he meets a group of destitute, orphaned teenagers, he becomes
obsessed with a mission that will change his and their lives forever.
Matthews created the UgandaProject, a nonprofit to provide education, housing, mentoring and basic needs to Uganda youth.
In the economic downturn of 2008, Matthews was fuming about his frustration in raising
money for aid work. Without Matthews’ knowledge, Gould recorded the rants and later
set the words to music, thus creating the origins of Witness Uganda.
Matthews’ acting credits include Best of Both Worlds Off-Broadway; and 1776 and Once on This Island, both at the Paper Mill Playhouse. Television credits include: The Mentalist, Suburgatory, Weeds, 90210, Law and Order: LA, Cashmere Mafia and Numb3rs.
Gould has composed and arranged music for Grammy winner Desmond Child, Terrence McNally,
Vanessa Williams and Playwrights Horizons. He is working on new musical commissions
including Lempicka for Yale Rep, The Family Project for Center Theatre Group, and A Cantata with Tony winner John Caird.
The Witness Uganda performance at Illinois Wesleyan is funded by a Mellon Foundation grant, and is part
of the Queer Lives Speaker and Performer Series and a “Nation(s) Divided?” intellectual
theme event. “Witness Uganda is the perfect addition to the Queer Lives Speaker and Performer series because it
allows students to break down boundaries between identities and engage the complex
intersections that bind us together and keep us apart,” said Matthew Damschroder,
assistant dean of students. “When we see ourselves in others, and embrace the otherness
in ourselves, we have a chance to grow, develop and become the people and community
we are meant to be.”