Brian Matuszak and Victoria Main perform in a 1987 UW-Superior Theatre Department production of "The Miss Firecracker Contest."

Brian Matuszak

I would not be where I am were it not for UW-Superior Theatre. And I'm in a pretty great place."

Brian Matuszak and Victoria Main perform in a 1987 UW-Superior Theatre Department production of "The Miss Firecracker Contest."

In the summer of 1984, Brian Matuszak was lost.

"I had dropped out of college after a year and had no direction in my life to that point," he said.

Along with patient parents, Matuszak credits friend James Gallagher for peaking his interest in the Theatre Department at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

"James was attending UW-Superior as a Theatre major and told me about how much he enjoyed the program," Matuszak said. "I went to watch him in a rehearsal for "Grease" and was immediately intrigued by the lanky man hanging around in the back of the Manion Theatre. He was wandering around, staring intently at the stage and taking notes. Of course, this was John D. Munsell."

From there, Matuszak was hooked.

"Suddenly, I wasn't lost anymore," he said. "John helped me find a way into the world of theatre. His instruction showed me how to have fun while at the same time treating the art form with the respect that it deserves. He helped me discover things within myself that helped me, not only on the stage, but also in life. He was a gifted mentor. Additionally, I met the woman who would become my wife while attending UW-Superior. Sue and I have been married for 29 years now, so I owe UW-Superior Theatre a lot!"

Munsell, the influential Theatre Department faculty member and mentor to so many, died in 2013 after a brief illness.

Now a Communication Instructor at the University of Minnesota Duluth, Matuszak is also the Executive Producer of Rubber Chicken Theater.

"Watching and learning how instructors combined practical knowledge with passion for learning in their classrooms helped me as my life path led me to being a college instructor," he said.

Created in 2008, Rubber Chicken Theater is devoted to producing funny, original, local theater, created entirely by funny, original, local theater artists. Performances include scripted plays, original sketch comedy revues and everything between.

"The knowledge that I gained from the entire teaching staff at the time has been put to use throughout my post-college life," Matuszak said. Through the mentorship of John Munsell and others, I have been able to create and lead two separate theater companies in the Twin Ports."

Matuszak credits the diverse learning opportunities within the UW-Superior Theatre Department with helping him throughout this professional career. He also knows how skills developed within the program are a great asset in a variety of fields. 

"Out of all the artists you will ever meet, Theatre grads are the most employable for any job," he said. "Theatre requires collaboration while most other art forms - such as writing and painting - are solitary endeavors. But actors have the work in conjunction with directors who have to work together with designers of costumes, sets, lights and props. We know how to work in collaboration to meet deadlines in a creative and positive way."

As one of the most recognizable names in a growing Superior and Duluth performing art scene, Matuszak still looks back fondly at his time in the Theatre Department.

"The friendships I forged while at UW-Superior are the strongest connections I've ever made in my life. Anywhere. And the leadership qualities and knowledge passed on to me by John D. Munsell are continuing to influence me today. I would not be where I am were it not for UW-Superior Theatre. And I'm in a pretty great place."