Matthew Gray is a very accomplished alumnus of both Chappell Players and Alpha Psi Omega. From the second he started auditioning for Chappell Players shows, he wanted to be involved in the organization in every possible way. Like many students transitioning from high school to college theater, he ended up not getting cast in the first show he auditioned for (Bat Boy). However, this did not stop him from getting involved in the Chappell Players. He jumped right away into tech positions. Throughout his time at St. John’s he was involved in either the cast or crew of every show he could be a part of. His favorite show to be a part of was the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee in which he played Mitch Mahoney. He says that it was so fun to watch everyone running around playing quirky children. During Matt’s time at St. John’s, Alpha Psi Omega went through a sort of “rebirth” which made it into the organization as we know it today. His class became the sort of “grandparents” of APO, and Matt is happy that so many family trees are alive and growing.
Matt was also impacted greatly by his fellow Chappell Players in his time at St. John’s and beyond. One memory that stuck out to him was from when he was preparing for the Dance Concert in 2012. Unfortunately, his mother passed away during the show process and he had to drop out of the show. The Chappell Players all rallied around him in support as they sent flowers to the funeral parlor and some even made the trek out to Long Island for the funeral. The Dance Concert that year was even partially dedicated to his mother with a dedication page in the playbill. Matt was so touched by his classmate’s support to him and his family, and it is something he says he will never forget.
Matt graduated from St. John’s in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in English and again in 2012 with a master’s degree. After that, he went to law school and passed the bar exam in 2015. He now works as a corporate litigation fraud attorney. While he no longer performs in theater, he has moved on to a new type of performance. In front of a jury, he uses many skills that he cultivated through Chappell Players such as public speaking, patience, and quick reactions. Though acting and singing aren’t a huge part of Matt’s life today, he has still found ways to keep theater in his life, most prominently through his business: Broadway Memories. He started Broadway Memories as a way to make some extra cash selling theater merchandise when he was planning his wedding. Now, he has amassed about 5000 followers on Instagram, and his company is only growing. As a matter of fact, they have even been a vendor at BroadwayCon.
Matt learned many lessons in his time at St. John’s that helped him to grow into the person he is today. He emphasizes the importance of never giving up, as cliché as that might seem. Even if you get rejected from a show or opportunity, just keep learning and maybe you will do better at the next audition. He also says that everyone should step out of their comfort zone and try out shows they hay have never considered. In his time at St. John’s, Matt ended up performing in dance concert so he could try something new, and the show led him to interact with so many new and amazing people. The final of these lessons is to learn from your peers. There are always going to be people who are more talented than you, so learn as much as you can from those people. The Chappell Players can be your lifelong friends if you reach out to them and help each other to grow.