Do you have those friends who are so crazy talented, smart, and wonderful that you wonder how in the world you are lucky enough to have crossed paths with them? That’s Matt Conner and Stephen Gregory Smith for me.
The creative couple has been contributing to the artistic ether for over a decade. They started writing musicals together in 2010 and over the course of their relationship have given life to Night of the Living Dead (the Musical), On Air, Turn of the Screw, Witch, Kaleidoscope, Monsters of the Villa Diodati, and Silver Belles to name a few. With a clear affinity for the dark and twisty, their latest project was Whitechapel at Synetic Theatre. This was the duo’s first with the theater and the musical focuses on the victims of Jack the Ripper from their point of view. As Matt and Stephen Gregory’s musicals website poetically states, they “explore the darker side of human nature, while searching for the light,” and this new work definitely plays into that idea.
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to report on their newest creative venture, their podcast, The Conner & Smith Show. In preparation, I sent them a few questions. Stephen Gregory got back to me:
For those who don’t know your background, when did the two of you first meet? We met at Shenandoah University and became best friends quickly.
Did you always work well together? In life I am water and Matt is mud. He is a Mac and I am a PC. We struggle at times but create together better than anything. We have been creating together since summer 2010.
What is your favorite project that you worked on together? Our favorite project is our Bold New Works five-year project [for Creative Cauldron]. We wrote five shows in five years. That was insane, but we did it!
How has COVID affected your creative juices? During COVID, we wrote a new show for Synetic; we also took our On Air show online and started a podcast!
Have recent events—Trump/BLM/trans rights, and so much more—affected the way you approach your projects? Through our podcast we are trying to make a difference and give voice to those who don’t get asked to tell their story.
Why did you decide to start a podcast? Because we missed talking to artists at the theater or at our home.
Do you have any pipedream/perfect-world projects in your minds? Whitechapel at Synetic Theatre, taking On Air to Pittsburgh and finding a theater that wants it. Also continuing the podcast.
Can you hint as to what the audience can look forward to for Pride Month? Pride Month will feature Sam Harris, Norm Korpi, Paris Barclay, and many more who are either LGBTQIA or supporters of us.
The first episode of The Connor & Smith Show aired February 6 of this year. If you have never listened, it would be impossible to pigeonhole the podcast’s theme or style. It is very casual and the conversation flows organically. Topics vary from the musical inspiration of dog farts to the glory of a fresh tomato, dance, “five-minute phone calls with friends,” post-COVID aspirations, and what Matt made for dinner.
Matt and Stephen have worked together so well for so long that their conversations are like an interlaced stream-of-consciousness duet, sometimes straying off on a separate thread but always fitting together. There’s music in their ebb and flow of words, and they are genuinely funny and fun people, which makes their podcast easily enjoyable.
But it’s not just about them. Their guest list has been extensive and covers many different artforms and artists cross the country, such as Visual Artists David Amoroso and Sushmita Mazumdar, Local Food Stylist Lisa Cherkasky of the Washington Post, Dance Company Founders of Light Switch Dance Theatre and the Nomad Dancers, and Broadway Director Marcia Milgrom Dodge. Local theater veterans and Helen Hayes Award winners and nominees have included Eleasha Gamble, Susan Derry, Kara Tameika Watkins, Diana Huey, Felicia Curry, Rick Hammerly, Tobias Young, Cheryl Daro, and Michael Bobbitt. Broadway performers have included Brad Oscar, Jason Danieley, Heidi Blickenstaff, Ed Dixon, Flo Lacey, J. Robert Spencer, Kevin McAllister, Dan Cooney, Donna Migliaccio, Matt Bogart, Michael Cerveris, Kyle Coffman, and Vishal Vaidya.
With 44 episodes and 14 minisodes already on the books, their most recent episode, May 29, was with Actor Wayne Duvall, known for his roles in the movies O Brother Where Art Thou and Apollo 13. The couple met Duvall when he appeared at Signature Theatre. They discuss career, life, highs and lows, COVID, Ford’s Theatre, and more.
The Conner & Smith Show can be found on Anchor and Spotify. You can listen while you cook, when you’re on the road, or in the shower. Matt Conner and Stephen Gregory Smith’s podcast is true feel-good entertainment. The couple bring joy and amusement to anything they touch, and their podcast is no exception. Give it a listen and brighten your day. Laugh out loud. Learn about interesting people. Love theater and the arts.