Ocean Beach’s Matthew Hasle is ready to light a fire as Jim Morrison
The musician and actor is playing the legendary Doors singer in a musical coming up in Escondido.
Matthew Hasle has spent the better part of the past five years performing across San Diego — from digital ads to shows with his band.
Now the Ocean Beach resident, musician and actor has landed the role of a legend.
He’s set to portray Jim Morrison in the upcoming rock musical “Light My Fire,” which will play two Sundays, March 26 and April 16, and Thursday, May 25, at The Grand Ritz Theater in Escondido.
Get Point Loma-OB Monthly in your inbox every month
News and features about Point Loma and Ocean Beach every month for free
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Point Loma-OB Monthly.
For Hasle, it’s an opportunity to combine his love of music and acting.
“Since I moved here in 2017, I have been an Ocean Beach resident,” he told the Point Loma-OB Monthly. “I am originally from South Florida and have been in performing arts my entire adult life as a musician. I initially got into acting around the time of the pandemic as another outlet for performing arts.”
“Light My Fire,” in which fellow actors Levi Foster and Jules Tursini also play Morrison, follows the late rock star’s life and his time as the lead vocalist with the Doors, using the themes “sex, violence, freedom and the spirit” to dive into the deeper meaning behind Morrison’s lyrics and poems.
For Hasle, the role is far beyond an acting gig. He has always admired Morrison and has portrayed him during performances with his band, Highline Trail.
“As an actor and a musician, Jim Morrison is the coolest role I’ve ever had the chance to play,” Hasle said in a news release. “He’s truly iconic but humble and grounded. I hope people who see the show feel like they discover something new about Jim.”
For Hasle, a typical week consists of promoting himself to various agencies in the area and landing gigs such as commercials, small student-directed films and booking his band at local venues.
“I attend a class called Los Angeles Acting Studio, SD,” Hasle said. “Through that I have done a lot of student films at [San Diego State University], a number of marketing positions in ads and campaign commercials.”
But getting into character as Morrison could be a career opportunity.
“I have been a huge Doors fan since I was probably 12 years old,” Hasle said. “I have used interviews I have seen and films as reference points. I have learned to do the mannerisms and speak like him.”
Being such a big fan, Hasle didn’t think twice about auditioning when he heard about the musical.
“This play is my favorite project,” he said. “I found it through one of the acting resources. They held the auditions ... last fall and I auditioned.”
Hasle’s effort and dedication to the role of Morrison got the attention of the show’s director, Obie Phillips.
“We had 60 submissions for the part of Jim Morrison, and from those people I called back 40 men,” Phillips said. “When Matthew walked into the room, the other guys immediately said, ‘He looks just like Jim Morrison!’
“But what sealed the deal for him was when he opened his mouth to sing. He possesses such a strong instrument that has so much range, too.”
Phillips was immediately impressed by Hasle’s ability to embody Morrison, and he said he continues to be amazed by his skill set for the role.
“It helps that Matthew is an accomplished guitarist, which makes his ear for music even sharper,” Phillips said.
“As an actor and a musician, Jim Morrison is the coolest role I’ve ever had the chance to play. ... I hope people who see the show feel like they discover something new about Jim.”
— Matthew Hasle
Rehearsals have been held the past several months in an annex at the Logan Heights Library. Hasle said working among talented actors and singers under Phillips’ lead has been an eye-opening experience.
“Working with other actors where everyone comes with a different background, you can cherry-pick different ideas and things from different people,” Hasle said.
When the play concludes, he has no intention of slowing down. He said he plans to book as many acting and musical gigs as he can and take on every aspect of performing arts.
“My band will continue playing gigs this summer and releasing new songs,” Hasle said. “I’ll also be auditioning for a couple of different indie films in upcoming weeks.
“And if ‘Light My Fire’ does a tour, I’d travel with the show.”
For tickets, times and more information about the show, visit colaboarts.org.