Teen’s Wish is Center Stage with Beetlejuice’s Leslie Kritzer

Matthew’s wish was who he is, and to see it happen for him was totally over the top amazing,” said his mom Lynn. Matthew Murphy is captivated by Broadway shows, and was recently enchanted seeing actress Leslie Kritzer perform live on stage. While entertaining in performing arts is his life’s passion, he’s been challenged with juvenile dermatomyositis (JDM), a rare inflammatory illness causing muscle weakness and additional complications. Kids Wish Network, a children’s charity that grants wishes for kids with life-threatening illnesses, gave Matthew his awe-inspiring moment of being on Beetlejuice’s Broadway stage. And he’d be in extraordinary company having his meaningful dream come true with Leslie Kritzer.

His wish was revealed to him at school in front of his biggest fans. The spotlight was on Matthew when the principal shared his big news during their broadcasted announcements. It was a whirlwind of excitement, he was going to be center stage the following afternoon!

The next day it was showtime… his family arrived at Broadway’s Winter Garden Theatre for his once-in-a-lifetime Beetlejuice experience. Watching the performance was even more dazzling from Orchestra seats.  After the show, Matthew and his family were taken backstage for an exclusive tour. He was warmly welcomed by cast and crew members who all anticipated his visit. When Leslie Kritzer arrived, she greeted Matthew’s family with a big smile and hugs. She spent time getting to know Matthew, and he also felt like a star being interviewed by Kritzer for her vlog on Broadway.com. After finding out that he aspired to be in stage management, she took him to meet stage managers, and further thrilled Matthew introducing him to fellow cast members Alex Brightman, Rob McClure and Kerry Butler. “The whole experience from start to finish was literally a dream come true,” said his mom.

Kids Wish Network Executive Director Tam Lai said, “We’re so appreciative to everyone at Beetlejuice, with a very special thank you to Leslie Kritzer for her kindness and taking time to make Matthew’s wish more than he could have dreamed of.”

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Leslie Kritzer

Leslie Kritzer is a singer and musical theatre actress.

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    Journal entry by Lynn Murphy — Matthew`s Mom

    It’s taken me several days to process this past weekend and I am SO ready to document it here so that Matt always has it to look back on…

    After working with Kids Wish Network, I received a phone call on Friday September 6th 2019 that Matt`s surprise wish was ready to be granted and revealed. In a surprising twist, the network contacted Matt`s HS and his Principal made the announcement of the reveal over the loudspeaker for the entire school to hear. Matt`s reaction was photographed and recorded by both students and administration. Matt was surprised with the news that he and our family would be attending his favorite show (Beetlejuice the Broadway Musical) and would also be receiving a special meet and greet and backstage tour with his favorite actress, Leslie Kritzer. Later that day, Ms. Kritzer reached out to Matt on social media where she asked to share his reveal video on her own social media and took the time to get to know him. Matt was absolutely elated and I’m sure that it was a day he won’t soon forget.

    The very next day, Saturday, September 7th 2019, our family traveled into NYC to see the show. We picked up our tickets from the Box Office and settled into the most AMAZING seats. This was our second time seeing the show but the experience from orchestra seats was a whole different vantage point and completely awesome! After the show (which was jaw dropping as usual), Lauren the House Manager came to get us from our seats and led us backstage to wait for Leslie Kritzer to greet us. This is where it gets difficult to put into words because it was so special. Everyone that we encountered backstage had a smile and a kind word for us. They all knew who Matt was and went out of their way to introduce themselves and make him feel welcome. We met Kerry Butler, Rob McClure, Alex Brightman (OMG…I mean OMG) and countless other incredible cast and crew members. When Leslie Kritzer arrived, she came out with a huge smile on her face and hugs (she’s a hugger! So am I!!) for everyone! Ms Kritzer is one of the kindest and most genuine people you could ever imagine. She was truly invested in understanding Matt`s medical condition (she even researched it!) as well as getting to know him as a person. There are people who are true “lights” in this world. Leslie is one of them. I’m not going to lie, I wanted to be her best friend immediately (creeper status…whatever). Leslie asked to feature Matt on her Vlog (which by the way, you should all follow because it’s fantastic) and during the interview, she asked him what his career goals were for the future. When he explained his interest in stage management, she lit up and promptly took him to meet the stage managers for Beetlejuice. Unbelievable and an incredible experience. Leaving the theatre, she led us out the door where fans wait to see the actors. Another incredible moment for Matt. (To quote Beetlejuice himself… foreshadowing?!?).

    As a mother, seeing your son’s lifelong dream come true is nothing short of miraculous. As a 3 year old who watched Mary Poppins on repeat and sat through it and copied dance moves and recited lines to a pre teen who joined both our community and school theatre communities, to a young man who remains invested in and interested in all things Broadway both onstage and backstage, this really was the weekend of a lifetime.

    Heartfelt and genuine thanks to Kimberly Kreiner and Kids Wish Network, Dr Ginger Janow, Travis Smith and Ms Eustice at RHS, Matt`s excited and supportive friends, our loving family and friends, and the entire cast and crew of Beetlejuice the Musical- especially Leslie Kritzer (thank you will never be enough), Kerry Butler, Rob McClure, Alex Brightman, Lauren, and all the other production members we were fortunate enough to meet. Your talent and kindness is a blessing and if you ever wonder if you make a difference in the lives of others, you do. You made a huge difference in ours.

    Thank you ❤️”