From Black Mountain to Broadway and Back
From Black Mountain to Broadway and Back
Posted on 03/29/2018

From Black Mountain to Broadway and Back

By Stacia Harris

Owen High School graduates (Class of ’97) Kevin Massey (far right) and Matt Lutz (center right) have come a long way from their beginnings in the Swannanoa Valley. After graduating from high school and college, these friends moved to New York to pursue careers on Broadway. They took a chance and put to good use the talent and skills honed on the stage of Owen High School.

I really appreciated my experience at Owen, because it was small enough that I could take part in a lot of different activities,” Massey said. “It was big enough that you did have to compete and push yourself to make a team, run for office, etc. I also felt the academic journey prepared me enough to go to college and succeed.”

Massey and Lutz remain close friends, and they are still deeply involved in musical theater. Massey continues to work on Broadway, and Lutz worked on Broadway and recently moved back to the area be the creative director for Front Porch Theater in Black Mountain.

“I'm thrilled to be back in the Swannanoa Valley,” Lutz said “I love it here, I still have family here, and this is really home for me.”

Now adults, they knew they wanted to work together again.

Their schedules aligned this spring. Lutz was able to bring Massey and his wife (and fellow Broadway star) Kara Lindsay back to the area for a one-time-only performance of A Broadway Romance.

“It has all come together rather quickly, ticket sales have been very strong, and I'm thrilled to be able to offer their incredible talents to folks here in the Swannanoa Valley who have watched, and loved, Kevin for many years now,” Lutz said.

Massey and Lindsay perform A Broadway Romance for audiences around the world. This original piece tells the story of how they met and fell in love. The couple says it’s so special to be able to bring this story to close friends and family.

Broadway Stars Kevin Massey and Kara Lindsay practice on stage.

“We’ve shared this story with a lot of people, a lot strangers,” Lindsay said during an interview with a local tv station. “It feels wonderful to get to share this with our families. It’s the most special when you get to share it with people that mean the most to you.”

The trio spent the evening before their performance practicing at the school. Owen High’s theater teacher, Lyn Nihart, who taught both Massey and Lutz, still works at the school. He was the technical director for the performance.

“These guys were brilliant,” Nihart said. “Both were freshmen during my first year of teaching. They both were the kind of students that were more collaborators than anything else. These guys came to the table with love for the process of doing theatre – amazing talents with outstanding work ethics.”

Massey and Lutz remember Nihart as a fantastic instructor who helped the young singers and actors explore their love for the arts.

“I admired him,” Lutz said. “I thought he was very cool and smart, and I appreciated learning from someone who had a lot of fresh ideas and a ‘let's make it happen’ attitude. That was a great environment to learn in.”

Back on stage, Massey and Lindsay ran through the music and script as they prepared to perform in front of a packed audience. A Broadway Romance includes songs from musical hits including, The Little Mermaid, Tarzan, Wicked, and Newsies. As Lindsay and Massey practiced on Owen’s stage, Massey realized it’s been awhile since he’s been under these lights.

Scott Conner, Kevin Massey and Matt Lutz in "The Fantasticks." 1995

“It brought back so many memories of shenanigans and laughs we had on that stage,” he said. “I spent a LOT of time there! It was the first time I’d performed on that stage since graduation!”

As Nihart perfected the lighting and audio for the production, an Owen theater student, freshman Trevor Nail assisted. Nail was a little star-struck as he watched the professionals at work. Massey said his advice to young people interested in theater is to hone their craft by working at it as often as possible.

“Any chance they get to perform or learn, they should jump at it,” he said. Say ‘yes’ as much as possible. Then, if you get the opportunity, work hard to be prepared. Be nice to everyone, not only because any person could give you your next opportunity, but also because it makes the whole process much more enjoyable.”

As the rehearsal wrapped up, Massey and Lutz looked forward to the performance and being able to show their friends, family, and fans how far they’ve come with their Warhorse Pride.

“One of the great lessons I learned from being a BCS student is that we should be proud to be from this neck of the woods,” Massey said. “The more I have been teaching along with my performing, the more I wanted to bring it back to where I began my creative journey. It makes me appreciate all of my champions and supporters and makes me want to be that for those budding artists in my hometown.”

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