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Playing "Movin' Out's" Piano Man Was Ex-Lawyer's Destiny

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Friday, March 27, 2009

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Even when he was a high-powered Wall Street attorney, Matthew Friedman wanted to be a piano man.

Now he’s the Piano Man, the central character playing and singing Billy Joel songs in the Twyla Tharp ballet “Movin’ Out.”

“I get to play Billy Joel music for two hours, which is spectacular,” says Friedman, 39, a Long Island native who got the “Movin’ Out” gig after the production’s original Broadway drummer heard him playing in a wedding band and recommended him to the producers. He played a few shows on Broadway in December 2005 and was part of the first national tour the following month.

“I grew up listening to (Joel). I always appreciated Billy as a songwriter. I love his lyrics; I think they’re just really beautiful songs — not just rock ‘n’ roll, just really beautiful compositions with phenomenal words to them.

“That I get to make my living playing and singing those songs is just a thrill for me.”

Joel actually became aware of Friedman before “Movin’ Out,” when the latter was part of the band that played at his wedding to Katie Lee in October 2004.

“It was madness,” recalls Friedman, who played the dinner hour solo “in front of all these famous people” and then performed with the full group — and, ultimately, Joel.

“At the end of the party he came up and grabbed the mic and said, ‘I want to sing now!’ For two hours I was his keyboard player. He didn’t sing his own music; he sang music he grew up loving — R&B, soul, rock ‘n’ roll, old-time stuff. It was as great as you can imagine.”

“Movin’ Out” will be performed at 8 Friday (March 27), 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday (March 28) and 1 p.m. Sunday (March 29) at the Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $24.50-75. Call (313) 471-6611 or visit www. olympianentertainment.com.

Web Site: www.olympiaentertainment.com

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