Aug 062014
 

Actor-singer will headline the 19th annual Symphony at Salk galaYou might know him as Will Schuester on the TV show “Glee,” but ask actor Matthew Morrison about what really gets his heart pumping, and he’ll tell you it’s performing in front of a live audience.”Television and live performance are very different,” he said. “With television, it’s a taped occurrence with no immediate interaction with an audience. More room is allowed for hiccups and to make things just as the director envisions it. With a live performance

— whether it be theater, music or comedy — there is a very real experience with viewers. The reaction is immediate, and the energy results from the performer’s interaction with the audience, and vice versa.

“Although more demanding, I truly enjoy playing in front of a live audience more than filming,” added Morrison, whose Broadway credits include “Footloose,” “Hairspray” and “The Light in the Piazza,” for which he garnered a Tony nomination. “I feed off of the audience’s energy, and it allows me to get personal with my fans. Television is an amazing vehicle to help expose my talent to a much broader audience, but I will always appreciate my stage performances more.”

His fans here in San Diego will get a chance to see and hear him perform live Aug. 23 when he headlines the Salk Institute’s 19th annual Symphony at Salk. The fundraising event will feature Morrison accompanied by the San Diego Symphony, under the guidance of guest conductor Thomas Wilkins.

Morrison took some time from his schedule to answer some questions about his upcoming Salk performance, his music and what’s on his bucket list.

What can we expect from you at the Salk gala?

Live music on an outdoor stage always makes for a fantastic night out. I’m excited to visit San Diego — one of my favorite cities. And I’m thrilled to perform with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra. Audiences can expect a great selection of American standards — most of which were made famous on Broadway, but were also covered by some of the greats, like Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, to name a few. And of course, I’ll have a number or two for all of my “Glee” fans. My goal at this show is to keep it both classy and fun, with music that both compliments a live symphony orchestra and that is familiar with those attending.

How did your theater experience help you prepare for your role on “Glee”?

“Glee” is such a unique show format for television in the sense that it does incorporate elements of live theater, including the fact that music helps drive the story lines. The role was such a natural transition for me. I think because of my theater experience, I was able to provide some good advice and techniques to those cast mates around me who didn’t come from a theater background.

What kind of music inspired you when you were growing up?

I grew up listening to the music of Broadway. I loved how each song illustrated such a detailed story and allowed the listener to be transported to a specific moment. Composers such as Irving Berlin, Stephen Sondheim and Rodgers and Hammerstein truly had a talent of creating timeless material that transcended generations. Through my live shows, I really try to expose this rich material to audiences who may not be familiar with it. And who knows, perhaps the music I perform will serve as a source of inspiration to my younger audience.

Is there someone who really motivated you to become a singer/actor? Your family? A mentor?

I’m very grateful to have had some great people in my life who supported and encouraged my career path. One of my high-school mentors, Dr. Ralph Opacic, had a big influence on my decision making. In my junior year of high School, Ralph sat me down because I was faced with the dilemma of either focusing on athletics (soccer) or the arts. His words of encouragement to stick with the arts had a big effect on me, and I’m thankful to have had that conversation with him that day.

What is Matthew Morrison like away from the lights and glamour of Hollywood — what do you like to do to unwind?

My fiancé and I love to cook at home. It’s one of those experiences that you can really connect with friends and family. I also enjoy running and practicing yoga. Both help clear my head and keep me focused on my projects.

What was your most recent iTunes download?

Most recent download is probably Sam Smith’s new album. So good!

What song would we be most surprised to find on your iPod?

I was really into rap and hip hop when I was a teenager. I used to enjoy breakdancing on a piece of cardboard with my friends. I have Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Easy E all on my iPod. And it always puts a nostalgic smile to my face whenever those songs come on.

Describe an ideal day off — when you’re not performing or taping?

I love nature. Getting out for a nice hike or run is priceless to me. Especially if I’m out surrounded by trees.

What’s on your bucket list that you’re dying to do next?

Hopefully to have some little ones running around within the next five years! Always wanted to experience being a father.

Source

Jul 112014
 

Undeterred by Thursday night’s rainstorm, it was a slightly soggy yet enthusiastic crowd that turned out for Matthew Morrison in concert with the National Symphony Orchestra and special guest Laura Benanti at the Filene Center at Wolf Trap on July 10, 2014. They were not disappointed—the energy of the performers, as well as their amazing talent, made for one of the most entertaining concerts I have attended in a while.

Matthew Morrison is most known for his role as “Will Schuester” on the hit TV showGlee, as well as his many performances on Broadway, including South Pacific and The Light in the Piazza.  Laura Benanti was recently seen on television as “Elsa” in the NBC live telecast of The Sound of Music starring Carrie Underwood, and is a Tony Award-winner for her role as “Louise” in Gypsy on Broadway. As their many credits might suggest, both are consummate performers. Their screen and stage credits alone however do not reflect just how charismatic and energetic they are in front of a crowd—with their easy humor and lively dancing they had the audience eating out of the palm of their hands.

Under the consummate direction of Steven Reineke, the National Symphony Orchestra was fantastic backing up the singers as well as performing in their own right. They opened the concert with a bouncy arrangement of “New York, New York,” starting the concert with an energy that continued throughout the night.

The songs were chosen mostly from Broadway and the American Songbook, though with updated arrangements to fight the contemporary styles of Morrison and Benanti. They were clearly very comfortable with the song choices, and able to perform them with ease and mastery. Morrison has a jazzy sensibility that is perfectly suited to the lounge songs such as “The Lady is a Tramp”, “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” and “It Don’t Mean a Thing if It Ain’t Got That Swing”, and his smooth tenor voice more than did them justice. Benanti showed her capability with big Broadway numbers, singing the standards such as “The Sound of Music” and “I Could Have Danced All Night” with her creamy, golden soprano.

The best part of the night however was not one particular song or moment, but rather was Morrison’s dancing in every number! This self-proclaimed “song and dance man” was exactly that, as he danced all around the stage during his numbers, soft-shoeing, dancing with the microphone stand, taking over the conductor’s baton to conduct the orchestra, dancing with his fedora, and even dancing with an umbrella during his fantastic performance of “Singin’ in the Rain.” His humor was infectious and had me completely enthralled.

Other highlights were the duets between Morrison and Benanti. They sang a lovely, intimate duet of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” during which Morrison also showed off his ukulele skills as their voices blended and complemented each other wonderfully. Their best duet though was their encore: a symphonic arrangement of Pharrell’s “Happy.” They had the audience on their feet, clapping along and laughing and wishing that the concert wasn’t over already.

While there were occasional sound issues (the orchestra at times overpowered Morrison, and there was a startlingly loud “blat” during one of the numbers), the stalwart souls who braved the rainstorm and the DC traffic to get out to Wolf Trap were well rewarded with an evening of fun, entertainment, and good song.

Running Time: 2 hours, with a 15-minute intermission.

 

Source: DC Metro Arts

Jul 032014
 

 

More than a few times in his life, Matthew Morrison has had gay friends choose him as the first person to come out to. “I’m open, a really good listener, a good friend,” he reasons. “I think I’m a safe person to start with, and hopefully that journey just goes on and on for them. I’m really flattered I could be that person for several people.”The actor, who stars as Will Schuester on Glee, adds, “I’m very happy to be a part of a world where two men and two women can actually get married in some places now. I’m excited to see what the future brings.”Glee hasn’t been afraid to tackle LGBT issues over the years and Morrison is keenly aware of the impact it’s had on its young audience. “I think it did so much good in our world,” he says. “It brought a lot of social issues to light

— being gay in high school, bullying — that we’re faced with. I’m really proud of the way we’ve handled those situations.”

Next Thursday, July 10, Morrison will bring years of Broadway and screen experience to a performance with the National Symphony Orchestra at Wolf Trap. “I’m the classic song and dance man,” he says of his planned repertoire. “A lot of the old standards reinterpreted in my own way, and timeless classics I just love to sing.” Tony Award-winner Laura Benanti, who recently sang with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, will appear alongside Morrison as a featured guest. “It gives me the opportunity to do something different,” he enthused. “We’ll sing a couple duets, and then she’ll do some of her stuff.”

He’s also looking forward to working with NSO Pops conductor Steven Reineke again. “He’s a trumpet player, so he especially gets the kind of music I’m trying to do, because my stuff — I guess you would say it swings a little bit more.”

With Glee entering its final season, Emmy- and Tony-nominated Morrison — who starred on Broadway in the original casts of Hairspray and The Light in the Piazza – is looking forward to what the future will bring.

“I’m so lucky to live this life and to be an entertainer,” he says. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do — and to do it at the kind of level I’m doing it, is something that I wish everyone could experience… I try to make every performance genuine and true. I’m very happy with my life, my family, my soon to be wife. It’s all good in Morrison’s neighborhood.” – Randy Shulman

Matthew Morrison appears with the NSO at Wolf Trap on Thursday, July 10 at 8:15 p.m. Tickets are $22 to $75. For more info visit wolftrap.org or call 877-WOLFTRAP.

Jun 242014
 

 

He may have entered your home as Mr. Schue on the hit TV series, “Glee,” but Matthew Morrison — actor, dancer, singer-songwriter — said that his home is on the stage.

“I grew up on the stage, and it feels like what I was born to do,” he said by phone from his home in New York. “I feel most alive; I feel like I’m my true, authentic self on stage, and I’m a happy person.”

Morrison was in New York between trips to Amsterdam to work on the film “Tulip Fever,” a costume drama starring Judy Dench, Zach Galifinakis and Christoph Waltz, and concert shows such as the one he’ll be doing in Boone in July with the Greensboro Symphony at the Appalachian Summer Festival

His agent hustled him “someplace quiet” to talk while work was being done on the apartment that he shares with his fiancée, model Renee Puente.

Morrison, best known as Will Schuester in “Glee,” had a successful career on Broadway before being cast as the high school Spanish teacher turned choir director in 2009. He received Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for the role.

Megan Stage works in the Office of Arts and Cultural Programs and Turchin Center for the Visual Arts at Appalachian State University, which produces Appalachian Summer Festival.

“The festival always tries to round out the season with the Broadway artist … between some of the country, folk and pop artists we bring,” Stage said. “It’s a great addition to the musical acts we host each summer. Matthew Morrison is a popular TV actor with his role on ‘Glee,’ but we have seen him perform on Broadway, his first love, and when we saw he was touring, we all agreed he’d be a perfect fit for the festival.”

Morrison grew up in California and started performing in high school.

After studying musical theater, vocal performance and dance at the Tisch School of the Arts in New York, he dropped out to make his debut on Broadway in “Footloose,” followed by a role in “The Rocky Horror Show.”

But Morrison’s breakout role was Link Larkin in the original Broadway cast of “Hairspray” in 2002. That role led to his being cast in the critically acclaimed “The Light in the Piazza”; he received a Tony Award nomination for the role of Fabrizio Nacarelli in 2005.

Ryan Murphy, the “Glee” creator, scouted Morrison and several other actors from Broadway shows because he was looking for actors who could understand the excitement of performing for a live audience, even though the TV show is shot on a soundstage without an audience.

“Glee” is a popular musical comedy-drama TV series that focuses on the fictitious William McKinley High School glee club, New Directions. The show choir competes while its members deal with relationships, sexuality, social issues and learning to become an effective team. The show lost some of its momentum when Cory Montieth, who played Finn, the popular quarterback, died of a drug overdose in 2013.

Shortly afterward, Murphy announced that the show’s next season, its sixth, would be its last.

“Next year we’re doing 13 episodes,” Morrison said. “We’re coming to our last season. I’m incredibly proud of the ride that it’s taken us all on. It dealt with sensitive issues that adults and young people go through. I’m very proud to have been part of a show like that.”

The creators and cast dealt with the sudden loss of Montieth by presenting a memorial episode, called “The Quarterback,” and then put the show on a brief hiatus.

“He (Montieth) was a huge part of the show, and he really connected with a lot of people,” Morrison said. “And, for me, watching him grow on the show was gratifying. He grew more than any other person on the show.”

Morrison, who one critic described as a “joyful” live performer, said that performing for a big or small audience doesn’t make much difference to him.

“At the end of the day, you’re just doing the best you can do to give an honest performance,” Morrison said. “The difference between playing to 2,000 people on stage or 5 million on TV is not really such a big deal.

“The biggest difference is the tone of it. On TV, you have to be a little bit smaller and more contained. You have to think that the audience can see your emotions more easily.”

There’s one other difference.

“Once you’re exposed to that kind of audience, you are pretty much open game for anyone walking down the street to stop you and notice things,” he said. “I’m very happy that my TV success happened when I was already 30.

“My fiancée and I are homebodies now. Besides being out there in the public eye, we live boring, domesticated lives: cooking, entertaining friends and enjoying our own company.”

And he cooks. “You enjoy food more when you know the work that goes into it,” he said.

At Appalachian Summer Festival, Morrison will be performing a combination of jazz standards and Broadway show tunes, including a seven-minute “West Side Story” medley.

He’s bringing his own conductor, Chris Waldon, and his own piano player, Brad Ellis, also from “Glee.”

“He (Ellis) is just as famous as I am,” Morrison said. “He’s the piano player on the show. It’s great that we get to do this outside of our day job and travel the world doing these shows.”

Walden did many of the musical arrangements on Morrison’s two record albums — “Where It All Began” (2013), a Broadway-inspired album, and “Matthew Morrison” (2011), a pop record that includes duets with Sting and Elton John, and Morrison’s single, “Summer Rain.”

Morrison and Stage said that they hope his “Glee” fame will serve to draw younger people to hear the Greensboro Symphony.

“Between Broadway and Glee, he is relatable to all generations,” Stage said. “We love bringing in the younger demographic to our shows … an artist to get young people in the door and excited to see a live performance. Matthew Morrison can do just that, but he will also appeal to our current patrons and festival audiences. This is one of those shows that will blend our audiences together which is always special to see.”

Morrrison said, “I feel like sometimes orchestras draw an older crowd, but there’s so much you can learn by going to these shows. A grandparent can bring their grandchild. I think I can bring in a younger audience. The whole evening for me is a whole lot of fun.

“These songs are timeless.I love seeing anybody sing their songs; everybody brings their own story to these songs we know and love.”

He’s done TV, movies and records, but Morrison said he still feels most at home on the stage.

“The stage is where I grew up. I did my first show when I was 19, and it’s been seven years since I was on the (Broadway) stage,” he said. “That’s the impetus for me to do these concerts. I miss the energy of working with a live audience.

“I want to start performing for the people again.”

 

Source: Journal Now

Jun 222014
 

Voting is underway through June 29 at AllStarTeachers.com to decide from among three finalists for each Major League Baseball club in the “Target Presents People All-Star Teachers” campaign, which will result in 30 teachers — one per club — participating in All-Star Week festivities next month at Target Field in Minnesota.While we’re waiting to find out which faculty members are about to be celebrated in front of a worldwide FOX viewing audience on July 15, we do know which celebrities will be lending their support for the ongoing campaign. MLB announced on Wednesday that Eric Stonestreet, Matthew Morrison and A.J. Calloway will join Adrian Gonzalez of the Dodgers and Carlos Beltran of the Yankees to serve as Program Ambassadors.”All-Star Teachers” celebrates remarkable current and retired teachers who make an impact on the lives of their students and communities. All 30 winners will be announced prior to All-Star Week. They will be included in All-Star Week activities and recognized during the pregame ceremony of the 85th All-Star Game, and one winner also will be featured in People magazine during the week of the Midsummer Classic.Stonestreet is a Dodgers fan who plays a teacher on “Modern Family.” u>Morrison is a Mets fan who plays a teacher on FOX’s “Glee.” Calloway is a regular on “Extra TV” and is a Yankees fan whose mom is a retired principal and whose sister is a current principal.The All-Star Game will be broadcast on July 15 by FOX.Source