Sharron Matthews Talks Murdoch Mysteries and Run the Burbs

Sharron Matthews Talks Murdoch Mysteries and Run the Burbs

Monday night on CBC, Murdoch Mysteries flips the script with a musical dreamscape episode featuring several song-and-dance scenes. It’s a very fun, anything goes departure that pulls out all the stops. Among the guest stars popping in for the festivities is Sharron Matthews as Maisy Mack, and I caught up with her last week to chat about the episode, and guesting this season on Run the Burbs.

Matthews had just appeared on Murdoch Mysteries last season as a [spoiler alert!] murderer, so when her agent called that they wanted her back again, she was understandably confused. “I said, ‘I killed someone just last year,’ and she said, ‘They don’t care,’ which was amazing. I’m always happy to show up,” she says.

“I did about three, four days of rehearsal with [choreographer] Tim French. He and I have done a version of Footloose together. I’ve seen him as an actor. I’ve seen him as a choreographer and as a director. Laurie Lynd was the director. It’s always something really amazing about coming back to set and having a shorthand already with someone. And I know how to dance. I know how to sing and I know how to very quickly change things up.”

Murdoch Mysteries

Matthews says her musical theater background, and having done film and television musicals with Hairspray, The Music Man, and her episode of Frankie Drake Mysteries, gave her an easy facility with the mechanics of singing and dancing for tape. “There’s this really great thing about rehearsing and rehearsing and rehearsing and then doing the scene, and then it’s off. It’s not like, ‘Now I’m going to do this for a year and a half.’ It’s into the wind.”

“The cast was working their asses off.  The whole cast leaned into it. And not one of them is a musical theater artist.”


“One of the cool things was we had a read through. which Pete Mitchell [said they hadn’t] done in eight years. And we had playback, and we’d sing through the songs. They had just shot the symphony episode. And as soon as you introduce music into it, it’s a whole other realm of getting the tracks, figuring out the tracks.”

Murdoch Mysteries

“Then if the tracks change, learning it again, going into the studio, doing it really quickly [and then repeating it every time it changes]. Then go on set to lip sync the tracks. You have to come in with a performance, and that’s actually very musical theater because we have such little time to rehearse.”

“It’s one of the only live entertainment genres where you have to come in with a performance because it’s already been taped. The intention’s already there. So you just kind of have to follow it, which makes it a little backwards in the way that it works, but everybody really rose to the challenge.”

Matthews also credits costumer Joanna Syrokomla with creating her character’s signature look for the episode. “She has been there for like 13 years now. Before I played the Mennonite murderer, I got cast twice. The first time it didn’t work out because of me. And the second time it didn’t work out because something happened on their side,” she recalls.

Murdoch Mysteries

“So both times Joanna would send me a letter, asking, ‘Do you like yellow? Do you like wearing yellow?’ And I’d say, ‘Joanna, I’ll happily wear whatever you put me in.’ And when we got the script in the beginning, because scripts are always changing and breathing, she said, ‘We’re not sure exactly who your character is, so we’re just going put you in an outfit that’s so obvious’ that when you see me walking into the alley at the top, you don’t see me [clearly], but you definitely see my outfit.”

“So the outfit became its own kind of [thing] and then when I came to set, there were a bunch of people reacting, and I said, ‘It makes sense.’”


“All the artisans in wardrobe were just, oh my God …. That’s the cool thing about Murdoch, there are cutters and milliners that you don’t really have on other shows because they have to build costumes like that one, which had three underskirts and bloomers, and then a jacket.”

Murdoch Mysteries

“And then they are cutting and making things and doing old school, like Stratford. ‘This is your hat. We’re building your hat from this.’ It was really amazing to see it because it started with broadcloth and then went through all the things that I would’ve done if I was in a big musical, where costumes are made. I love Joanna and I love that department. They did such a beautiful job. She said, ‘No one’s gonna forget you.’”

In tandem with the Murdoch shoot, Matthews was also filming her second Run the Burbs episode, which made for Hollywoodeqsque transportation and delivery from one set to the other. “When Run the Burbs happened, in the beginning, I auditioned to play the part that Aurora Brown ended up playing. And I did a couple callbacks for it. And sometimes, when you do callbacks for things, you either end up on the show immediately or you never get on the show because they’ve already [moved on],” she explains.

“And about five months ago, my agent told me, ‘They want to put you on Run the Burbs for this little cameo for two episodes. Andrew [Phung] would like you to come.’ I said, ‘I will happily be there.’ And the cool thing was I was rehearsing Murdoch and shooting Burbs at the same time.”

Murdoch Mysteries

“And my last day on Run the Burbs there was also a big rehearsal for the last number of Murdoch, which is a huge street dancing number.”


“Lots of angles, dancers, non-dancers, just mayhem. And Tim French wrote to me and said, ‘You can’t come that day, can you?’ And I said, ‘I’m actually on Run the Burbs.’ And the night before I shot, because we don’t get our shot list and it can change at the last minute, like you’re now last shot of the day where you were first shot of the day … So I looked at the call sheet for the next day. And it said I’m the first shot of the day, and it was a short scene.”

Murdoch Mysteries

“I realized I was going to be done. So I wrote to Murdoch’s production person, and said, really tentatively. ‘Hey, I may actually be done.’ And then it was out of my hands. He called the guy at Burbs. Burbs called him. They literally worked it all out. The people from Burbs drove me there. They were texting them saying, ‘Sharon’s here. Sharon’s gone. Sharon’s in the car.’ Like everyone dreams of.”

“And a bunch of the people in the Murdoch episode were friends of mine from old timey, musical theater days, lots of dancers, lots of singers, which was really amazing. So the guy driving the car said, ‘Oh, I used to drive for Murdoch. I know exactly where they want you to go.'”

“And you basically drive down a street that looks so innocuous, it could be anywhere. The only thing that makes it obvious is often there’s a horse just standing off to the side.”


Murdoch Mysteries

“And we turn down this alleyway and then it opens up into the standing set. And they were all rehearsing on the street. The car drove right up to where they were dancing. The door opened. I walked out, Tim French came over and grabbed me by the hand and said, ‘Can you stand right here?’ And I said, ‘I just got here.’”

“But it was that kind of thing that you dream about when you’re young … I was shooting two amazing Canadian shows and I went from one show and changed out of my clothes and walked right onto a set where I was rehearsing for a musical. My friend, Larry Mannell, who’s been in the business forever, watched me get out of the van and said, ‘That’s something, Matthews.’ And I said, ‘That was not my idea.’ He said, ‘No, that’s kind of the day that we all dream of. And I said, ‘Yeah, absolutely. I started one thing and ended up at a second thing.”


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“It was just amazing to go from being on set with Ali Hassan and, and Rakhee Morzaria and Andrew and Zoe Hopkins, who was the director of Little Bird, who’s up for a CSA Award, to go straight to Murdoch where it was Laurie Lynd, who gave me my very first job when I was 21, and just be with Laurie and Tim French and all my dancing friends. I remember sitting there and going, ‘This is really a ‘be in your boots today, Matthews’ moment.”

“This is a really amazing day. And these days don’t happen as often as we wish them to. It was a really magical month.”


The “Why Is Everybody Singing?” episode of Murdoch Mysteries premieres Monday, March 25, beginning at 9 a.m. ET on CBC Gem and airing linearly at 8 p.m. (8:30 NT) on CBC TV. Run the Burbs Season 3 is airs Tuesdays beginning at 9 a.m. ET on CBC Gem and at 9:30 p.m. (10 NT) on CBC TV.

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