Matthew Morrison will bring his extensive show-tune repertoire with him when he plays the Parker Playhouse on Feb. 17. But it’s the American songbook that’s his favorite.
“I love singing, and I love singing these standards,” Morrison says. “For me, that’s my wheelhouse and what I love to sing. Songwriting has become about having a cool beat. But [back then], music and lyrics were about telling a story. I love storytelling. I’m not just singing a song, I’m acting, as well. In some songs, I throw in a dance break as well. I try to give them the whole package.”
Morrison’s appearance is part of Seth Rudetsky’s Broadway Concert Series, in which stage stars are interviewed by Sirius XM radio host and Broadway expert Rudetsky. In the performances, Rudetsky prompts behind-the-scenes stories and accompanies the artists while they sing songs from their Great White Way repertoire.
And Morrison has plenty to draw from. On Broadway, he starred in “Footloose,” “The Rocky Horror Show” and “Hairspray.” He was nominated for a Tony Award for his 2005 performance in “The Light in the Piazza” and most recently headlined the 2015 Broadway run of “Finding Neverland.”
Here are excerpts from a recent interview.
Have you ever been to Fort Lauderdale?
I’ve never been to Fort Lauderdale. I’ve spent a lot of time in Miami. I travel there with the same group every New Year’s. We’ve also gone to places like Sydney, London. Last year, we were in Hong Kong. But we’ve spent a few New Year’s in Miami. I love staying at the Fontainebleu and going every place in Miami’s nightlife.
If you just did songs from “Glee” and your three albums, you’d fill up a whole show. Are there some career bookmarks that you think you and Seth must hit or reference?
Because the show is so loose, I would say no. He always gets to the big ones like “Hairspray” and “Glee.” One of his favorite shows is “Light in the Piazza,” so I’m pretty sure he’ll do that.
Is this format — chatting off the cuff and then singing a song — thrilling for you, or just plain scary?
I’m very meticulous with my performances, so these performances were always a little daunting to me only because I have no control because Seth is in the driver’s seat and I’m along for the ride. He’s quite funny. He has a great sense of humor. I find myself finding out a lot about myself in the questions he asks. He is very enlightening in that way.
What about the interview questions he asks onstage?
I rarely get scared about these, when it’s about my life. I mean, I should have the answers. I guess it’s more thrilling because he goes way, way back and asks things about childhood and some of the first performances I did. He kind of covers the grand scope of my life. It’s thrilling and nostalgic … going back and talking about the great moments and the hidden meanings. It’s like going to therapy almost.
By the time you were on “Glee,” you were already well known on Broadway. Describe the difference between being a star of the stage and being a star on television.
With “Glee,” when we shot the first 13 shows, we were in a bubble. None of them had even aired before we shot all 13. We lived sitting in this little bubble of innocence. We had no idea what to expect. I mean, at the end of the day, it was a show about singing and dancing high-school students and we didn’t know how it would be received. And then, the next thing I know, I’m sitting on Oprah’s couch. And I’m like, “Oh, wow. This is a different ball game.” That was the moment for me. When I go to different countries all over the world, I’m now recognized most of the time. They don’t know my name. It’s Mr. Schuester. That’s kind of fun. And I love it. I love that it was for a show that actually stood for something. The message of “Glee” was a message of acceptance. It was about the underdog rising up, and we hit a lot of social issues. I’d like to think that for some people it opened up the conversation [on topics like] being gay in high school, teen pregnancy, school shootings. I’m very glad we did that.
Matthew Morrison will perform 8 p.m. Feb. 17 at Parker Playhouse, 707 NE Eighth St., in Fort Lauderdale (in Holiday Park). Tickets cost $37-$123. To order, call 954-462-0222 or go to ParkerPlayhouse.com.