The year was 2002 and a new Broadway musical was opening that summer called Hairspray, starring Harvey Fierstein, Matthew Morrison and newcomer Marissa Jaret Winokur. The moment Matthew took the stage and started singing, he definitely had a new fan. Matthew’s vocals are like no other and ever since Hairspray, I have had the pleasure of seeing him in almost all his Broadway endeavors, getting to hear that golden voice raise the roof time and time again! It has been a pleasure watching Matthew’s career rise and then watching the world over get to know him and his voice because of his starring turn in Fox’s Glee.
Ever since I started “Call Me Adam,” I have been eager to interview Tony, Emmy, and Golden Globe nominee Matthew Morrison. It is a real honor to have been granted this opportunity, not only because we got to talk about Broadway,Glee, and his upcoming concert with The New York Pops, but because we got to the heart of what makes Matthew tick. Matthew’s enthusiasm, excitement, and genuineness really shine through.
Matthew will be reuniting with The New York Pops and conductor/musical director Steven Reineke on Thursday, July 7 as he takes the stage with them at their summer home of Forest Hills Stadium (1 Tennis Place, Forrest Hills, NY). Matthew and The Pops’ will be joined by Tony nominee Megan Hilty. Showtime is 7:30pm. Click here for tickets!
1. This July you are once again going to be performing with The New York Pops at their summer home of the Forest Hills Stadium. What do you love about performing with The New York Pops?
The Pops have such an amazing history, and do such a great job of including all members of its community. Its involvement with public schools and children’s hospitals in particular really resonates with me and my values. I’ve had such great experiences working with The New York Pops in the past, and I look forward to sharing the stage once again with this amazing group of professionals, led by my good friend, conductor Steven Reineke.
2. When performing with The New York Pops, what do you learn from The Pops’ Musical Director/Conductor Steven Reineke that you don’t learn from working with other musical directors?
Steven and I are good friends who share a similar taste in music. He understands my brand and takes the time to work with my Music Director, Brad Ellis, and myself to really bring the best show to the audience. He’s a team player who works extremely well with the artists that share the stage with The New York Pops. It’s always a fun and exhilarating show with Conductor Reineke.
3. Since Forest Hills Stadium is an outdoor venue, do you vocally prepare yourself differently than if you were getting ready to sing at an indoor venue? If you do you prepare differently, what do you do that’s different?
My regimen is pretty consistent no matter the setting. Days leading up to the performance, I rest my voice as much as possible. The day of the performance, I stay away from any types of dairy. To help coat the throat, I drink plenty of warm tea with honey and lemon. The only difference between preparing for outdoor vs. indoor shows is when I’m faced with temperatures that aren’t ideal for vocal performances. However, I don’t see summer in New York posing any issues!
4. We first met when you were starring on Broadway inHairspray and since then, I’ve had the pleasure of watching your career take off. What has this journey been like for you? Is the reality of the trip the same as what you envisioned or hoped for?
Thank you for the kind words. Looking back at my career, it’s been an amazing journey. Through it all, I have never chased success. Instead, I have always pursued happiness, and what that meant to me personally. To me that’s the key. I never thought I’d be in the position I’m in today, working with amazing creative professionals and having the liberty to decide which projects I want to attach myself to. But when you pursue your passion and stick with it even through challenging times, it’s amazing what opportunities will present themselves.
5. I’ve also had the pleasure of seeing you on Broadway in The Light in the Piazza and South Pacific, both productions played at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theatre. When you walked back into the Beaumont for the first time during South Pacific what memories came up for you from starring in The Light in the Piazza and what new memories did you make during South Pacific?
In The Light In The Piazza, I was faced with the extreme challenge of learning a foreign language in a very short window of time. Unlike television or film, you only get one shot at executing lines in theater. So memories of going through that challenge stood out. Each night on stage, the amount of emotion and energy that translated from the stage was unparalleled to any show I’ve been in. I will always cherish my tenure with that production, and once I walked back on to that stage for South Pacific, those memories came flooding back. In South Pacific, there was a different emotional connection I had with that show. “Lieutenant Cable’s” internal struggle through each performance often left me leaving the theater a bit melancholy. Playing a character who was being sent on a mission from which the likelihood of return is slim was a difficult task. I had to learn to pace myself in order to keep going with the run.
6. While many people know you from your Broadway shows, lots of people got to know your talent when you starred on Fox’s Glee for six years. What songs or artists did you never get to sing on Glee that you wished you had? What were the top three funniest things that happened to you during the taping of the series?
We covered a very diverse repertoire of songs throughout the series, and I recall very fond memories of performing many of them with my cast mates. “Singin’ in the Rain” with Gwyneth Paltrow was amazing, aside from being wet all day! When we performed “Proud Mary,” we were all in wheelchairs, and that was one of the biggest workouts on set that I can remember. We were up and down ramps, giving it our all in camaraderie for “Artie.” “Don’t Stop Believin” was theGlee anthem, although now I can’t listen to that song just because at every event we attended for the show, they would be playing it. “You’re All The World To Me” was my favorite because of the creative direction. It’s the performance where I danced on the ceiling and walls. It was choreography at its finest, and was such an exhilarating day for me. Jane Lynch was my comedic crutch – she was always there to brighten spirits and bring a smile to everyone’s face.
7. With all the interviews you do, what is one question, you are so tired of people asking and what is one question you have not been asked that you wish you would be (and please provide your answer to that question)?
The one question I get a lot is “Would you ever do a Glee reunion show?” The show was extremely special to me, and had its place in pop culture. Sometimes you just need to appreciate an ending and move on without entertaining a possible comeback, especially this early on. One question I haven’t been asked is “What do I value most in life?” My answer – happiness.
8. Some actors who start in theatre and then find success in television/film, stay working in television/film. What keeps you coming back to the stage? How do you feel your theatrical training prepared you for television work?
Performing on stage is my air. I will always prefer being on stage because of that live interaction with an audience. There’s no substitute for the energy I receive from an audience. Live performances, to me, are a symbiotic relationship between the talent and the audience, where we both feed off of each other’s energy. My experience in theater prepared me for the work in television and film by instilling the sense of immediacy in my performances. In live theater, you get one take to get it right. In television and film, when you’re performing to a lens, there can be a number of takes on a single scene. I learned discipline with my techniques, and I think that helped a lot when transitioning to TV/Film.
9. On your album Matthew Morrison, you recorded Sting’s “Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot” and on Where It All Began you recorded Stephen Sondheim’s “Send In The Clowns.” When in your life, have you “Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot” and when was there a time you wanted someone to “Send In The Clowns” to help cheer you up?
“Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot” – When I made the decision to pursue the arts professionally. “Send In The Clowns” – Now that’s a bit too personal J
10. On “Call Me Adam” I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent every day?
To continue pursuing my passion and always striving to be a better person, husband and friend.