Matthew Morrison is dreaming Disney dreams in 2020. That’s because theEmmy, Tony, and Golden Globe nominated artist has teamed up with Disney Music Group to release a carefully curated album of Disney classics, Disney Dreamin’ with Matthew Morrison, set for release on March 6.
Inspired as a personal dedication to his own child, Morrison’s song selection was picked from his fondest Disney memories as a child himself, and will cover several eras of beloved classic films including “Pinocchio,” “Dumbo,” “Cinderella” and “Toy Story.” The physical album is now available for pre-order.
Below, he checks in with BroadwayWorld to tell us all about the new album, hisupcoming concert at Sony Hall (March 13), and even reveals what show could get him back on Broadway!
Firstly, congrats on your new album. I can’t wait to hear the whole thing.
I can’t wait to have people hear it, honestly. I’ve been sitting on it for a while because I was going to release it in August of last year, but then I got American Horror Story, and I didn’t really think it was appropriate to put it out at the time… it just wasn’t right, the timing.
I understand that it came to be out of an inspiration to make something for your son?
Yes, absolutely. You know, being a father has completely like turned my world upside down and it really just informed me on this love that I didn’t know that I was capable of feeling. It rocked my world, and also brought around these Disney songs that I remember from my childhood. They are a part of all of our upbringings, and just to have those songs kind of just circle back… now they resonate in a different way for me. It was pretty exciting. So, I wanted to put out a children’s album. I kind of started talking with different labels, and I guess Disney got wind of this, and they approached me and asked me if I wanted to do an album of Disney covers, and I said, ‘Yes, absolutely!’ And they gave me free rain to do what I wanted to do with these songs.
I love your “Go the Distance”, and especially the new sound that you’ve brought to it. Are there a lot of new arrangements that people can expect from the other tracks?
Yes. Every one of these songs has a new arrangement and a new kind of a take on the song. You know, it was hard to do, too, because some of these songs are so iconic! I did “You’ll Be My Heart,” and it’s hard to hear that song and not think of Phil Collins, but my goal is to try to make it sound fresh and different. I want to just do that song in particular because just the sentiment of that song really touches me Since becoming a father, the lyrics just get me! The whole idea of having a new meaning, and just the promise of unconditional love… But yes, every single song has a little bit of my own take on it.
I think Disney music is something that’s really important to a lot of people- either just the feeling that it gives them, or the nostalgia of having like seen the original movie as a kid. What do you think that it is about Disney music that transcends generations the way it does?
Well, I think it’s a safe space to kind of cohabitate with your parents. The thing that I love about Disney movies is that a lot of the kids love them so much, but there are so many things that kind of go over kids’ heads, and it kind of hits the adults in a deeper way like, whoa! You know? I really think that there is something in there for everyone. It’s also funny because I’m going through this process of watching a lot of these movies, over again, with my son, and new things are jumping out at me. But also the amount of times I can watch one movie, over and over, and over, and not be sick of it! There’s some kind of like magic in the water with Disney in that you’re able to do that and not completely self-destruct. [Laughs]
What kind of music was like really important to you as a child? What did your parents play for you?
Disney was definitely a part of it, but when I was a child, Disney didn’t really have its Renaissance yet- that was in my teens. But still Disney was there, like “Bare Necessities,” and “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” and all those songs where we were listening to the vinyls of those. My mom loved musical theater and showtunes. I don’t know how she got into that because it seems so funny and so foreign. I’m just going to have to ask her that some day. I think it was honestly more like Barbra Streisand, singing her covers of musicals, and those kinds of albums that really touched her. I think that’s the great thing about those songs from musicals, back in the day. You had some of the biggest artists in the world, like Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. doing their versions of these iconic songs, and I think I definitely grew up listening to those… a lot. Then throw in some Weird Al Yankovic and that’s pretty much my childhood.
What a mix! I know that you’re doing this special concert on March 13. Can people expect to hear any of these Disney songs?
This is going to be my first time doing this kind of a concert. I really wanted to get more interaction with the fans and something where I’ve kind of done this really interesting format for this show. It’s going to be a little bit of a career retrospective- doing songs from the shows that I’ve been in, that Broadway fans that would love to hear, I think. Then I’ve asked my friend, Frank DiLella, to come in and moderate the evening. So I’ll do like 10 minutes here, Frank will come on and do like a little bit of a question and answer with me, and then I’ll go and do like a 20-minute section, and then Frank will come back on and talk about where I’m at now or my Broadway history. It will be nice to have someone guide the evening a little bit, besides myself. Then I actually want to have fan questions and just bring a few people up on stage. And then, yes, at the end of the night, I really want to highlight some of my favorite Disney songs.
It sounds like it will be a very intimate evening with you!
Yes, especially because we live in this world now where everyone has so much access to everyone else, and I want to do that in a way where we can all just be in the same room together, having the same experience.
Is there a song from your career that you feel like you’ll never get sick of singing?
You know, the first audition song I ever really remember having was “On the Street Where You Live,” and that is a song that has really just followed me throughout my career. I booked Glee with that, and I booked so many Broadway shows with that, and that’s been like my go-to song. I still sing it in my set today. I just love that song, and I kind of changed it over the years and have more of like an up-tempo and jazzy kind of an arrangement of it, but that’s one of the songs.
Also, “As Long as He Needs Me.” I love that song from Oliver, and it’s a song that I ripped off Sammy Davis Jr. He did this version called “As Long as She Needs Me,” and I sang that for years. But after having my son, I kind of went back to “As Long as He Needs Me,” and that kind of made it more about my son. I love how songs can really just evolve through your own life, and it’s just a testament to the songwriting, and the amazing lyrics that really just take you on the journey, wherever your journey may take you.
I know that you are in London, right now, right, doing The Greatest Dancer. How is Series 2 going?
It’s going great. Honestly, we learned so much from series one that this year has been so much more efficient. I think the talent is so much better this year, and it’s just something that I love to do. It’s kind of this place where I get to, you know, speak on a subject that I know very well, and the thing I love about this is that it kind of gives me the opportunity to mentor the next generation of artists and such. I’m really working closely with my acts, and just imparting knowledge that I’ve kind of gained throughout my years in this business, and it feels really good, and refreshing, and real, you know, and it’s great.
Do you like being in London?
You know what, it kind of has turned into that. Another thing- in New York and LA, it’s interesting walking into a restaurant, and you get a little bit of a side eye if you walk in with a kid. London is just so open and accepting of children, and they just are so welcome, everywhere, and there are so many places to go, so many parks to see, so many museums. It’s just, it’s really nice to be here. You know, I wish it was a different time of year, probably, [Laughs] but it’s still pretty. I’ve only come here in the past, just basically doing press, and really never staying here, but now I get to really be a tourist in this great city. I probably work maybe three or four days a week, so I’ve actually had a lot of days off.
Have you seen a lot of theater while you’ve been there?
Yes! I actually went last night to see my friend Alan Cumming and Daniel Radcliffe in this show called Endgame, by Samuel Beckett, which is so interesting! I’m going this week to see my good friend Jerry Mitchell– he’s putting up Pretty Woman over here, which I didn’t see in New York, and so I want to see it over here. Oh, and I’m seeing Gavin [Creel] and Sara [Bareilles] in Waitress.
What would it take to get you back to New York in a Broadway show?
You know what, I don’t know. I’m really at this point of my career where I know what I want, and I’m extremely picky, but I’ve been trying to get this one project made over there, and the rights have been really tied up. So I haven’t been able to do it, but I’m dying to do City of Angels.
I’ll keep my fingers crossed for that!
Yes, please do!