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Local sells out Columbus theater

Locals may remember him for playing second baseman for Ironton High School. Others may remember his hip-hop career that took him around the country and was based around positive images and his Christian background.

Now Matt Johnson has taken his talents to a whole new level – children’s musical theater.

“Children’s theater is a beautiful thing,” Matt said.

After being in the hip-hop business for about five years, Matt had settled in Athens to attend Ohio University. But when the artistic director of the Columbus Children’s Theater contacted him, he knew that he had to participate.

“It was definitely something that I wanted to be a part of.”

Matt, who graduated from IHS in 2002, wrote the script and all of the music for “Cinderella: A Hip Hop Fairytale,” taking about six months. He then participated directly in the making of the production, which was performed between Aug. 5 and 16.

“I was actually a pretty big part in the process,” Matt said. “A bigger part than I thought I was going to have.”

Matt’s mother, Bridgette Johnson, said that she knew he would do great in the role and that she knew he was made for the stage when she gave him a video camera at age 12 and he “already knew how to work the camera.”

“He’s a loving young man,” Bridgette said. “He had fun with the children. The children really loved him.”

Although Matt said he enjoyed the experience, some parts were more challenging than others, the biggest of which was the implementation of his script.

He said it was difficult teaching the children all of the parts, but it was worthwhile in the end.

“The very end of the first show was my proudest moment,” Matt said, thinking back to the blackout after the finale and the applause that came with it.

All 12 shows were sold out and the Columbus Children’s Theater even showed an additional 13th show that also sold out.

“I was sitting there watching the play and I kept thinking ‘he actually wrote this!’,” Bridgette said.

Matt said that he hopes to write more plays in the future.

“He’s always been a good writer,” Bridgette said. “It was a God-given gift he always had.”