Matthew Morrison learned long ago to be prepared for every performance, but there’s only so much he can do when he’s not exactly sure what’s going to happen when he shares the stage with Seth Rudetsky at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall on Thursday.

Morrison is best known for major roles in the Broadway musicals “The Light in the Piazza,” “Hairspray,” “South Pacific” and, most recently “Finding Neverland,” and he earned an army of fans as Will Schuester, the teacher who resurrects the long-abandoned high school glee club on the hit series “Glee.” He also had a recurring role on the final season of “The Good Wife” and has earned Tony, Emmy and Golden Globe award nominations for his roles.

Rudetsky might be dubbed “Mr. Broadway.” He has played keyboards in the orchestra of numerous musicals, been an accompanist for countless stars in concerts, is an arranger, Playbill columnist, blogger and the co-creator of last season’s Tony-nominated musical “Disaster.” A former writer for Rosie O’Donnell’s daytime talk show, he’s also one of the main hosts of the Sirius XM Broadway channel, and has twice come to Sarasota to help the Van Wezel announce its Broadway series.

The Van Wezel concert will be a low-key affair, with Rudetsky accompanying the song and dance man, and interviewing him in between songs.

“It’s nerve-wracking and fun because I don’t know what to expect,” Morrison said. “I’m usually very methodical with my shows and how to lay them all out and talking points. This is more off the cuff and does add an element of surprise and gets my nerves going and I like that. It makes me feel alive.”

For Rudetsky, it’s just another day on the job. He frequently interviews the creators and performers of Broadway shows on his radio programs.

Rudetsky said that Morrison will perform songs from his Broadway shows, among other songs, and in between “I’ll ask him questions about the shows, and stories that I’ve heard about. I have no idea where we’re going to go. I’m very interested myself in knowing the answers. I love Broadway history. It’s going to be like the audience is hanging out with us in our living room, talking about whatever I want to talk about.”

Rudetsky said the format, which he’s done with such artists as Patti LuPone, Betty Buckley and Andrea Martin, helps keeps the programs light and spontaneous and also gets the singers to open up.

“A lot of people don’t like talking about themselves, but they need to appreciate their own careers as they’re talking, they’ll realize that it’s so cool that I experienced that.”

Morrison said that “Glee” changed the trajectory of his career. Before that Fox series had its debut, “if you didn’t live in the New York community, you probably didn’t know who I was, whereas now with ‘Glee’ being such a huge international show, you’re traveling all over the world and people are recognizing you. I’m just so happy as an actor. ‘Glee’ was so special in a moment in our history and it changed peoples’ lives. It taught a lot about bullying. People could connect to some of the characters, the messages were so strong, and it was so special to be part of something that was monumental and really had an effect on people.”

The Herald Tribune

A pained frown raced along Matthew Morrison’s brow. This wasn’t the terrorized expression of horror we recall from the hit TV show “Glee” when his Mr. Schuester was under attack by his archenemy gym coach played by Jane Lynch. Nor the exaggerated, fierce scowl he sported recently on a Broadway stage, clashing with Kelsey Grammer’s Captain Hook in “Finding Neverland.”

No, this was the resigned look of the weary homeowner realizing more bills are on the way. Morrison, 38, was back from the Chelsea neighborhood in Manhattan, where he and wife Renee also live, to his cozy compound in the Hollywood Hills. First, the driveway’s electronic gate was being balky, and now the front door latch was proving uncooperative.

These annoyances morphed the frown to grumbling: “Boy, go away a little bit and everything crumbles.”

Morrison plopped down on a comfy leather couch, stretched his legs out onto a coffee table and pushed aside repair thoughts to chat about a bit of everything, which seems suitable given his 15-year career is equal parts acting, singing and dancing.

Morrison has a number of pots boiling. Last year he filmed a role in “Tulip Fever,” a Tom Stoppard-written period romance with Oscar winners Alicia Vikander, Judi Dench and Christoph Waltz slated to open Feb. 24. In late November, he workshopped numbers in the eagerly awaited Stephen Sondheim musical, working title “Bunuel.” (“Melodies are so ungeneric, challenging, I couldn’t sleep the night before singing my parts,” he said.) Fingers crossed, that will open at the Public Theater in New York in the fall.

Meantime, his focus is on touring show in which he sings Broadway standards with a backing jazz band. It stops Jan. 14 at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica and March 4 at the Irvine Barclay Theatre.

“My arrangements are organized so I can dance, a bit different than contemporary people like [Michael] Buble and [Josh] Groban who sing this kind of music,” Morrison said during a recent interview (edited for length), our first since our conversation for a Times Q&A published during the first season of “Glee” in 2010.

The 24-7 public attention you got in the first year or two when “Glee” blew up: a blessing or a curse?

Yes, [laughs] both. But that was fine. I kind of live in an emotional 5, I’m an even-keeled guy.

During the peak, would people react as if you were that character?

Oh, yeah. Once I was waiting to go into a restaurant and these kids came up and started singing, auditioning on the spot. And then they were, “So, can we be on ‘Glee?’” I gave them a bit of the Mr. Schu pep talk, but it was awkward. How do you say, “I play a fictional character on a TV show, I don’t cast it”?

I gotta know, what was the song?

[The slightest of frowns returned to his brow.] Ah, pretty sure it was “Don’t Stop Believing.” [Laughs] Yep, I got that one a lot.

You had done Broadway, but that show established you nationally.

And I am so proud of it! I could have been on a cop or lawyer show that hit, but “Glee” actually stood for something, legitimately meant more to real kids, like those I went to school with [at an arts high school].

“Glee” had a significant part of the gay rights movement, its surging among younger people, letting them feel more confident to be themselves in public.

You attended the Orange County School of the Arts in Santa Ana. Looking back 20 years, what did that give you?

A big thing was being in a school where everyone there wanted to be there — not just going because they had to go or learn to get an A and then forget stuff. People there applied learning in real time, so they were growing and changing. And so did I.

You are now on the school’s board?

Yes, it’s a mission of mine. I feel it is a perfect model of a charter school for the arts. Next year we are opening one in the San Gabriel Valley, and then we are looking to be in San Diego. We’re exploring doing about three in Northern California down the road, hopefully making this a national thing.

You’ve anchored an hour-long TV show and been the lead in a Broadway musical. What have you learned about sizing up projects that come your way?

[At first] it was, “It’s a part, I want any part!” After I had done a couple musicals, I was more looking at the roles — “Does this work for me? What do I get to do? Can I act, sing and dance?”

Now when a project comes up, I look at the team. Are they people likely to put something good together? Because I have been a part of some projects — sorry, no names — that didn’t really have a good leader or weren’t shaped right or the dynamics were off, and the results showed, I felt.

Now you have more control?

I do concerts, like these ones coming up, all over the world, and I am able to make a nice income so I don’t have to do just any show to pay the bills. I turn down more things than I accept.

That said, is there any specific role you would crawl over glass to play?

Gene Kelly!

In the day, people seemed to be either Fred Astaire fanciers — he was suave and smooth — or fans of Gene Kelly, more physical and rambunctious. How did you compare them?

Astaire felt a little high class for me. It was “tails.” Gene was the proletarian working man, average guy, you know? And I think I fell in love with Kelly because maybe I could be like him: I sing, act, dance. He excelled at all of them.

Beyond the obvious “Singin’ in the Rain,” is there a Kelly movie that especially knocks you out?

I love “An American in Paris,” but a dance routine that blows me away was in the movie “Summer Stock.” There was a creaking board and then a newspaper on the floor, and he tears it with his feet. It gets smaller and smaller, so effective and simple. Now, talking about it, I want to go watch it again!

Can you tell us about a song you are likely to sing live in these shows, why it matters to you?

There is a sense of longing to “On the Street Where You Live” that makes it special. But the song has changed meanings for me over my lifetime.

How so?

I sang it in high school and I auditioned with it in New York for many things. It was the song I got “Glee” with. But it really changed for me after I got married. In the past, it was so in the present for me — I was wooing, walking down the road with different women — but now it has a reflective, almost past tense feeling: I always walked down the path that led me to you, my wife. I will always stay here, be true to you, with you.

Do you have any nonentertainment professional pursuits?

I have gotten involved in an online business officially rolling out in June for Father’s Day. It is called Sherpapa. We are creating and selling what we think of as high quality “field kits” for younger dads who travel with their families. A parka kit, a beach kit, an airplane kit, just grab your quality-gear little kit and go.

How did this come to be?

Renee and I love traveling. We are friends with another travel-hungry couple who just had a kid and we were lamenting the challenges of being a “dad adventurer.” We hit on the name, in part from a Sherpa guiding, leading the way, plus, also the person carrying all the stuff, which often falls on dad.

All this talk of dads: Is fatherhood in your future?

We’re actively pursuing it. I am so looking forward to that next phase.

You are an only child. Do you want just one or more?

Family is so important so I would want there to be a sibling. Two, I think, but I want it manageable. I think we could handle that. [Pauses, then laughs.] I better check this is the right answer.

————

Matthew Morrison

Where: The Broad Stage, 1310 11th St., Santa Monica

When: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 14

Tickets: $75-$115 (subject to change)

Information: (310) 434-3200, www.thebroadstage.com

LA Times/Pictures: Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times
HQ images in the gallery

 

Beginning a new season of Broadway Up Close concerts on Saturday at the The Kimmel Center, Seth Rudetsky hosted Broadway leading man and television’s favorite choir teacher, Matthew Morrison, for an evening of song, dance, and candid conversation. Beloved for his silky tenor, killer dance moves, and winning smile, Morrison flooded the stage of the Perelman Theater with his own brand of intoxicating charisma while featuring some of musical theater’s greatest hits.

With an impressive resume including hits such as Hairspray, South Pacific, The Light in the Piazza, and most recently a star turn in Finding Neverland, the average audience member will no doubt recognize Matthew Morrison from six seasons as Will Schuester, the faculty advisor for a ragtag group of teens in the Fox crossover hit, Glee. Seth Rudetsky brings his own arsenal of credits to the mix from accompanying within the Broadway community to authoring multiple books on the business, writing and producing his own work in New York, and hosting in the afternoon on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio’s On Broadway.

The Broadway Up Close series combines a casual cabaret style with a talk-show interview format where Rudetsky (usually at the piano, though unfortunately injured for this evening) mixes his intimate knowledge of the business with playful jabs at his peers; in this case making Morrison blush over stories of his early days in a boy band. Like so many Broadway favorites, Morrison’s big break came from being the eager understudy who was at the right place at the right time. From the out-of-town tryout in Seattle, he exploded onto the New York stage in Hairspray as Link Larkin, the 1960s teen dance show heartthrob.

Morrison’s style seems to blend his boy band background with classic crooning for a mixture of mellow suaveness and effervescent agility. Where any other vocalist would spend an instrumental break grabbing a sip of water or politely acknowledging the accompanist, Morrison breaks out in an explosive mini-dance routine, effortless yet filled with energy, reminiscent of Fred Astaire. And after breathing life into old jazz standards, he is able to captivate with classics of the musical theater repertoire such as “On the Street Where You Live,” “Younger Than Springtime,” “You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught,” and a rousing medley from West Side Story.

The evening’s sweetest treat was by far a small taste of Morrison’s Tony-nominated turn as young Fabrizio Naccarelli in Craig Lucas and Adam Guettel’s The Light in the Piazza. Described as the most challenging role he ever faced, his rendition of “Il Mondo Era Vuoto” oozed with all the passion of an Italian aria and the discipline of a highly-dedicated vocalist. Along with a few other features from Hairspray and a full out Gene Kelly “Singin’ in the Rain” encore, Morrison’s charm and good looks are outranked only by his vaulting range, with its muscular clarity and yet fragile intensity where needed.

Broadway Up Close is unique chance to hear from artists as performers and storytellers simultaneously, a setting especially flattering to a talent like Matthew Morrison. The evening mixes a wide range of favorite songs with his tales of rubbing shoulders with Hollywood’s most powerful personalities, all while having the best dressing room on Broadway. Not to mention his risky teenage years as a breakdancing gang member tagging “Skylar” on the not-so-rough streets of Orange County, California.

With a star-studded lineup this season including Chita Rivera, Alice Ripley, and Vanessa Williams, this concert series is a great alternative to the standard cabaret setup and a treat for any lover of musical theater.

Running Time: One hour and 40 minutes, with no intermission.

DC Metro Theatre Arts

Talking with Matthew Morrison
POSTED ON Dec 14, 2016 BY Valentina INInterview

He’s won hearts—and critical acclaim—as everyone’s favorite teacher on television hit Glee, and been nominated for two Drama Desk awards for portraying Peter Pan creator J.M. Barrie in Broadway’s Finding Neverland. What role will Matthew Morrison be playing when he comes to the Van Wezel Jan. 12?

Apparently, mostly himself. Morrison’s appearance here will be “kind of impromptu,” the actor said in an interview. “I did this before with [composer-musician-radio host] Seth Rudetsky, and half of the show is more of an interview with me. Then Seth gets over to the piano and starts riffing off some songs that were in shows and musicals I’ve done in the past. But he can throw me a loop sometimes, so you never know for sure what will happen.”

One thing that has been pretty certain through Morrison’s life: a show business career. “I was big into soccer as a kid, and I also thought I might go into the medical field, since both of my parents were,” he says. “But then my dad, who was a midwife, took me to work one day and I saw babies being born, all the blood, etc. I thought I’d stick to performing.”

He was encouraged by a mentor at the Orange County High School of the Arts, who told him, “‘I feel a lot of potential in you’,” he recalls. “That made me really think about a career as an actor.”

Morrison headed to New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where he studied for two years before dropping out and joining the Broadway cast of Footloose. Other roles that came his way were in a revival of The Rocky Horror Showand his big break as heartthrob Link Larkin in Hairspray. Since then, besides his turns on Glee and in Finding Neverland, he’s also appeared in the musical The Light in the Piazza (scoring a Tony nomination) and as Lieutenant Cable in a Lincoln Center production of South Pacific.

What kind of roles does he gravitate to? “Ten years ago, I would have said whatever role I could get,” he laughs. “Now that I’m older and more established, a role has to be really worth taking the time away from my family.” Married in 2014, Morrison says he and his wife are definitely planning to have kids sometime soon.

“This year’s been a lot of travel, but that is something I love to do,” he says. “I love exploring new people and places, and I’m lucky I get to do a job that includes travel. But I want to do more of it with my wife.”

Morrison says the stage is his first love, and that’s why he enjoys doing shows like the one at the Van Wezel, “being up there entertaining people.” But Glee, he says, was special, “because I was part of a TV show that stood for something. We got to bring music into people’s living rooms and talk about hot button issues; we had a voice, and we used it.”—Kay Kipling

For tickets to the Morrison/Rudetsky show, call 953-3368 or go to vanwezel.org.

Sarasota Magazine

GLEE-ful for Matthew Morrison
POSTED ON Dec 09, 2016 BY Valentina INInterview

The Broadway veteran and “Glee” star comes to the Kimmel Center.

 

For most television viewers, Matthew Morrison will always be the earnest, but wrongheaded teacher in Ryan Murphy’s colorful television series “Glee.” For anyone with a background in Broadway and musical theater however, Morrison was the dashing leading man from stage hits such as “The Light in the Piazza,” “Hairspray,” “South Pacific” and, most recently, “Finding Neverland.” That dancing and singing guy is the Morrison Sirius-XM radio host Seth Rudetsky will bring to the Kimmel Center for the next show of his “Broadway Up Close” series on December 17. In improvisational talk show fashion, Rudetsky will fire off questions then play piano beside Morrison without much warning as to what will come next.

“Glee”had such an enormous, ingratiating presence for so long that your character has to now be both a blessing and a curse. Do people expect you to be this always cheerful, empathetic person?
His intentions were good, and it’s fortunate that as happy-go-lucky a character as he was, I too am an upbeat guy. It only backfires when I’m not in a good mood, or want alone time, and someone asks for those selfies with you. That said, it was nice to be on a show that was so special, that had a voice, that said something such as “Glee” did. As an actor, I’ve been on lawyer shows and cop shows and those are great, and I am glad to do them, but “Glee” had messages, and we changed a lot of lives. That is not lost on me, and I will always cherish my time on that show.

Are you friends with Seth? What did he promise you about coming down to Philly?
We are great friends, and he is a shining light when it comes to all that goes on within the Broadway community. He is our mouthpiece. His shows are unlike any shows you can take on – anything can happen. Me, I like to come in and be very prepared when I do my concerts. Know exactly what I’m going to do. With Seth, it is a free-for-all. First, we’ll sit and do an interview, then hit the piano and sing, then back again; never knowing what to expect from him. You get an honest, raw performance when you don’t know for sure what will come next.

Having witnessed you in concert, you’re usually chewing up the scenery and singing and acting in character? Since you won’t know what lies ahead, will you still play a role?
I like losing that control and I do relish my characterization, and will do my best to get those in. Since he is interviewing me though, I’ll have a chance – I hope – to reveal more personal sides of me — my deepest darkest stories. Then again, I’m not sure what he is going to ask so it could be anything. I have been so fortunate to have such a multi-faceted career, that we could go anywhere. It should allow me to have perspective. Then again, I’m not showy or braggart-y so this is a great opportunity.

Ducking backwards….
OK, I was young and I needed the money.

No, really, what was your first favorite song to sing, the one where you totally connected with the lyric and the melody?
I think it would have to be “On the Street Where You Live” from “My Fair Lady.” It was one of the first musical theater songs that I had to do in junior high. I just immediately felt this connection to it, being this young man, a hopeless romantic, just looking up at the window of this girl he’s crushing on, wanting to be close to this woman. It still has resonance today, even as I’m married – that urgency of lust and passion for the woman you love. It takes me back and brings me forward. Now, that’s a good song.

Sat. Dec 17, 8 p.m., Perelman Theater at the Kimmel Center, 300 S Broad St. kimmelcenter.org 

Metro Philadelphia

Matthew attends and performs at the Prostate Cancer Research Foundation Benefit Dinner on December 7, 2016 in NYC.

All the pictures: The Prostate Cancer Research Foundation Benefit Dinner


2016 Deer Valley Celebrity Skifest
POSTED ON Dec 05, 2016 BY Valentina INGallery

Matthew and Renee attend the 2016 Deer Valley Celebrity Skifest in Park City, Utah, on December 4.

Album: 2016 Deer Valley Celebrity Skifest

Talking with Matthew Morrison
POSTED ON Dec 02, 2016 BY Valentina INInterview

He’s won hearts—and critical acclaim—as everyone’s favorite teacher on television hit Glee, and been nominated for two Drama Desk awards for portraying Peter Pan creator J.M. Barrie in Broadway’s Finding Neverland. What role will Matthew Morrison be playing when he comes to the Van Wezel Jan. 12?

Apparently, mostly himself. Morrison’s appearance here will be “kind of impromptu,” the actor said in an interview. “I did this before with [composer-musician-radio host] Seth Rudetsky, and half of the show is more of an interview with me. Then Seth gets over to the piano and starts riffing off some songs that were in shows and musicals I’ve done in the past. But he can throw me a loop sometimes, so you never know for sure what will happen.”

One thing that has been pretty certain through Morrison’s life: a show business career. “I was big into soccer as a kid, and I also thought I might go into the medical field, since both of my parents were,” he says. “But then my dad, who was a midwife, took me to work one day and I saw babies being born, all the blood, etc. I thought I’d stick to performing.”

He was encouraged by a mentor at the Orange County High School of the Arts, who told him, “‘I feel a lot of potential in you’,” he recalls. “That made me really think about a career as an actor.”

Morrison headed to New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where he studied for two years before dropping out and joining the Broadway cast of Footloose. Other roles that came his way were in a revival of The Rocky Horror Showand his big break as heartthrob Link Larkin in Hairspray. Since then, besides his turns on Glee and in Finding Neverland, he’s also appeared in the musical The Light in the Piazza (scoring a Tony nomination) and as Lieutenant Cable in a Lincoln Center production of South Pacific.

What kind of roles does he gravitate to? “Ten years ago, I would have said whatever role I could get,” he laughs. “Now that I’m older and more established, a role has to be really worth taking the time away from my family.” Married in 2014, Morrison says he and his wife are definitely planning to have kids sometime soon.

Morrison says the stage is his first love, and that’s why he enjoys doing shows like the one at the Van Wezel, “being up there entertaining people.” But Glee, he says, was special, “because I was part of a TV show that stood for something. We got to bring music into people’s living rooms and talk about hot button issues; we had a voice, and we used it.”—Kay Kipling

For tickets to the Morrison/Rudetsky show, call 953-3368 or go to vanwezel.org.

SarasotaMagazine

Morrison Adventures: Hakuna Matata
POSTED ON Nov 20, 2016 BY Valentina INVideo

“I think just moving to New York City right out of high school,” said the actor at a screening of Allied hosted by the Cinema Society and Chandon. “I grew up in Southern California and sometimes I look back and I’m in awe of my 18-year-old self to have the courage to come out here and try to make it [in theater]. I think that was the riskiest thing I’ve ever done.”

NYMag

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