Matthew performs “You Can’t Stop The Beat”, part of his Hairspray Medley, with the talented kids of the Orange County School of the Arts on September 17, 2016.

Matthew performs at OCSA 30th Anniversary Gala
POSTED ON Sep 20, 2016 BY Valentina INVideo

Matthew performs “You’re Nothing Without Me” from the musical “City of Angels” with Dr. Ralph Opacic, founder and executive director of OCSA, at the OCSA 30th Anniversary Gala on September 17.


Broadway star and Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) alum Matthew Morrison dropped by his alma mater to rehearse with students for OCSA’s 30th Anniversary Season Premiere this Saturday at Balboa Bay Resort. I had the opportunity to sit down with him and talk in-depth about the balancing act it takes to be a Broadway leading man, his time on “Hairspray,” “Glee,” and “Finding Neverland,” as well as what it means to him to give back to the OCSA.



SANTA ANA – Twenty years ago, a teenage boy named Matt was starting his senior year at a performing arts high school near his family home in Cypress. Today, that self-proclaimed “theater kid” has thousands of on-stage and on-screen performances under his belt, as well as Tony, Emmy, and Golden Globe Award nominations.

Matthew Morrison, Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) class of 1997, is a Broadway and television actor known for his roles as Link Larkin in the original Broadway cast of “Hairspray” and Will Schuester in the six-years run of “Glee” on Fox.

But before all that, Morrison was an OCSA student just like the 40 student artists who will perform with him on Saturday.

“I would be nothing if I hadn’t come to this school,” Morrison said. “I always tell these kids, ‘I was you.’ The training here (at OCSA) was incomparable. It’s the cornerstone of my career.”

When Morrison and the OCSA performers take the stage at Balboa Bay Resort this weekend, they will kick off a year-long celebration of the school’s 30th anniversary. The sold-out beachfront concert will take place in front of more than 300 guests at sundown and include a medley of songs that Morrison has performed throughout his career.

“When I first heard about this, I was in complete shock,” said junior Raquel Glasser. “I know (Morrison) from watching ‘Glee’ on T.V. and I’ll probably be shaking with excitement when we perform.”

Glasser, who is part of the Commercial Dance Conservatory program at OCSA will perform a dance to “Singing in the Rain” with Morrison and her classmate, junior Makayla Gordon.

“OCSA has always been a dream come true and the teachers here always encourage us to go after what we want,” Glasser said. “Matthew Morrison is an excellent example of that.”

The faculty and staff at OCSA seeks to prepare students academically for higher education, while also training aspiring artists to pursue a profession in the arts. Their guidance has helped support artists such as Susan Egan (class of 1988) and recent Netflix sensation Justice Smith (class of 2013) in their creative endeavors.

Morrison, who during his early years of high school thought maybe he should be a soccer player instead of an actor, was encouraged by OCSA’s president and executive director Ralph Opacic to strongly consider a performance career.

And so far, it seems to have been a good choice, Morrison said.

“It’s important to have places like this that nurture talent and let it grow,” said Morrison. “It’s not just technical training, there is a confidence that they instill in you. I mean, I don’t think I could have moved to New York City at 18 years old without that confidence.”

“Pure Imagination,” which is part of the school’s theme for the 30th year, means teachers and students alike should “think big,” Peca said. “Big” like performing with stars as well-known as Morrison.

“Coming to OCSA was the best decision I have made in my life,” said senior Jared Machado. “We have a good set of tools, and seeing someone like Matthew Morrison and his career just proves that we can totally do this if we work hard.”

The students said they admire Morrison’s talent and work ethic, but also the fact that he is giving back to the community that got him where he is now.

“His sheer talent is amazing, but he is so nice and down to earth. Honestly, I would love to get anywhere near that,” said Machado. “Opportunities like this make being a part of OCSA so special and the way we keep growing, I know (OCSA) will go way into its 50th anniversary.”

More pictures in the gallery (Cindy Yamanaka, Orange County Register/SCNG)

OC Register

Matthew attends the 2016 US Open
POSTED ON Sep 08, 2016 BY Valentina INGallery

Matthew and wife Renee attend day 10 of the 2016 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on September 7, 2016.


Matthew attends the New York Fashion Week Kickoff
POSTED ON Sep 07, 2016 BY Valentina INGallery

Matthew attends the New York Fashion Week Kickoff at The Park at Moynihan Station on September 6, 2016.

More pictures New York Fashion Week Kickoff (September 6)

Park and Bark.

In theatrical terms, this expression describes a singer or performer who tends to stand in one place on stage and sing with little or no acting, movement or emotion.

It’s also something that Broadway veteran and Fox-TV’s “Glee” star Matthew Morrison has no interest in.

“My concerts are a pretty good workout for me,” he said.

Whether you look at his role models or his extensive experience both onstage and onscreen, Morrison prides himself on being a natural showman, a song-and-dance man and a performer who can do it all.

Morrison grew up idolizing the grace and masculinity of the legendary Gene Kelly while attending a performing-arts high school in California. He later went on to study at NYU’s Tisch School for the Arts before starting his theatrical career in New York City.

He landed his first Broadway role playing Chuck Cranston in the stage adaptation of “Footloose” in 1998 before getting his breakout role as Link Larkin in the 2002 production of “Hairspray” and later a Tony Award-nominated performance in the musical “The Light at the Piazza” in 2005.

Morrison dabbles in Broadway, as he did last year playing J.M. Barrie in the stage adaptation of the 2004 film “Finding Neverland.” However, he admits he has to be selective because of the endurance it takes to consistently pull off musical theater at the highest level.

“I think Broadway is more of a young man’s game,” said Morrison, 37. “When you’re trying to put on that same performance that the people love every single night, it’s a lot of time and commitment.”

Morrison later transitioned to screen actor and eventually landed the role that catapulted his career, portraying Will Schuester, the high school Spanish-teacher-turned-glee club leader on Fox’s hit 2009 musical dramedy, “Glee.”

The show took home multiple Golden Globe Awards and Emmys during its six-year run and earned Morrison himself a Golden Globe nomination in 2010.

Even as each day provides more hindsight, Morrison can’t fully put his finger on what made “Glee” the pop culture phenomenon it was. But aside from its ability to tackle some serious issues in a unique way, he said the way the show used popular music is similar to what all great stage musicals can do.

“You take songs a lot of people heard many, many times. … If you weave those songs into a story line, those songs get a whole new meaning,” he said. “We got to some great storytelling through music and it wasn’t ever presented like that before.”

Morrison’s success on “Glee” has allowed him to scratch all of his creative itches. He recorded two studio albums — a self-titled release in 2010 and “Where It All Began” in 2013 — and returned to the small screen this year for a recurring role in the hit CBS drama “The Good Wife.”

But what he has done away from just acting or singing is what he will do Saturday at Lexington’s Picnic for the Pops . During production hiatuses on “Glee,” he began to organize tours and travel the country performing songs with various bands and orchestras.

When he comes to Lexington, Morrison will play a set list that will be a career retrospective of his Broadway work and recorded music, backed by the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra.

Morrison said the set list might be a bit different depending on both the city and whether he is backed by a symphony or a smaller band, but the feeling of having an orchestra back him up is a unique thrill.

“It’s kind of like being the general of an army,” he said. “It’s a very powerful and empowering feeling, and I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it.”

Regardless of the number of musicians that accompany Morrison on any given performance, audiences will get to see a performer ecstatic to be in his element.

“Every time I hit that stage, it’s a breath of fresh air for me,” he said. “I feel like I’m doing what I’m meant to do, and I feel so lucky I get to do this and bring music and joy and hopefully introspectiveness to an audience every single night.”

From Seth Rudetsky’s Playbill column

“I just got back from Provincetown, where I did a show with Matthew Morrison. Yowza! Does he put out, theatrically! So many songs had dance breaks and his encore was “Singin’ in the Rain” with a dance break and an umbrella prop. Brava! Matt said his dancing began as a kid when he was in a “gang.” Of course, he lived in Orange County, CA, so I assume his gang was all pre-med students. Nonetheless, he said he would graffiti things and his “tag name” was Skyler. He said there was a girl he had a crush on, and her name was Skyler, and he thought it was a cool name. Tag name? From that explanation, I think he meant drag name. Anyhoo, he and his gang would get cardboard (as one does) and break dance all the time. Now that he’s older, he calls it “broke dancing” because the day after he does some steps, his body feels broke. I asked him what his signature step was and he said he could hoist his body up on one arm and pinwheel his legs. I then moved my chair back so he’d demonstrate but he wouldn’t do it for fear of a full body collapse. Cut to, by the time he came out for his encore, he hauled out his signature step and the crowd went wild. If they ever make a Broadway musical out of “Breakin,’” the 1984 film, please hire Matt. Yes, that was a film.

Before Matt ever did Broadway, he was in a fake boy band that the David Letterman show put together. It was called “Freshstep” (after the kitty litter), and he told me there was a song they did that was supposed to be from a film about a boy falling in love with a Deaf girl. The song was called “Don’t Talk To The Hand (Talk to the Heart).” Hilarious…and I found a clip online! And you can see Footloose star Jeremy Kushnier in the group as well!

I asked Matt how he got Glee, and he told us that he sent in an audition tape and they liked it. Then he had to go in person to audition for Ryan Murphy. He had just done a play with Jill Clayburgh, and she had worked with Ryan, so he asked her for advice. She basically told him to go in and flirt with Ryan. How did it go, I asked? His answer: “I got the job.” WERK!
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Matthew Morrison (2011)

Where It All Began (2013)

Finding Neverland OBC (2015)

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