Broadway fans are getting ready to welcome home Tony nominee Matthew Morrison, who returns this spring as the headliner of the new musical Finding Neverland. But before he sets up shop at the Lunt-Fontanne, Morrison is teaming up with his Light in the Piazza and South Pacific co-star Kelli O’Hara on December 19 to sing holiday tunes at Carnegie Hall with The New York Pops. BroadwayBox caught up with the Hairspray alum to talk Glee, Neverland and reuniting with Kelli.
1. What’s one item on your Christmas list this year?
I am already starting to think about my Finding Neverland dressing room—I want to make it in the style of that period, like the 1860s of J. M. Barrie—and I just saw online these typewriters you can put your iPad on. The iPad hooks up to it but it looks like an old-school typewriter and you can type on it, so that’s what I want to get.
2. Is there a memory of you and Kelli from Piazza that you’ll never forget?
God, there’s a lot. We have a very storied history; there’s some I can’t tell. [Laughs.] Honestly, it was me, Kelli and Bart Sher; we spent a lot of time together the three of us, and together we are such a dream team. I know all three of us are going to do something together again in the future. We just have the best creativity. I’ve never been in the room with such talented people before. Something about the creative process of Piazza—breaking barriers that hadn’t been seen before.
3. What was it about Finding Neverland that you knew this was the show to return to Broadway with?
It was interesting I was working on another project; I had been really wanting to do this revival, and I won’t say anything about it because I want to get to it sometime down the line. So then this kind of came to me. Harvey Weinstein called me up and talked to me about the project, and I went and watched the movie and I loved the story. I love theatre stories that take place within the theatre, and this is definitely one of those stories. And since it’s creation by J. M. Barrie, there’s been this universal fascination about the story of Peter Pan, and rightfully so; but to me, what was more inspiring and fascinating was the story behind the story—everyone knows Peter Pan but they don’t know about the backstory. This musical has so many complex character relationships—interpersonal and within one’s self—and focuses on the themes of restored optimism and the power of imaginations; all these things are reasons I fell in love with the show.
4. What’s something unique that is on your bucket list, professionally or personally?
Playing Carnegie Hall. Honestly, three of the places I’ve always wanted to play: Carnegie Hall, Royal Albert Hall and the Hollywood Bowl. I’m so excited to be up on that stage with Kelli and the three-hundred-person choir behind us. It’s going to be special.
5. If you could only pick one scene from all your years on Glee for your reel, which one would make the cut?
It would be the scene where I found out my first wife, Terri, was faking her pregnancy. I was just really proud of the work Jessalyn Gilsig and I put into it. It’s different in television; you don’t have rehearsals per say. That’s the thing I love about theatre, the rehearsal process and finding new things. So Jessalyn and I got together and really rehearsed it a lot. We thought the scene was very special and written so well and we wanted to do it justice.
Don’t miss Matthew Morrison sing your favorite Christmas songs in ‘Home for the Holidays‘ at Carnegie Hall on December 19.