Matthew Morrison, is known for starring in Glee, but long before that he treaded the boards of Broadway in Hairspray, The Light in the Piazza, South Pacific and most recently Finding Neverland. Now he is performing at Feinstein’s/54 Below until January 13th and this is a show not to miss. Morrison exudes a natural sex appeal. He claims in his show, that Feinstein’s/54 Below is the sexiest room, but this is the sexiest show, as Morrison seduces his audience with charisma galore. Starting off with a crooning “Nice N Easy,” Morrison entered from the front of the room, making audience members swoon with joy as he passed their table. Sounding and oozing the same charge, that Frank Sinatra did. His smooth stylings gave way to a man with a heart, when a young girl almost fainted with glee, was allowed a selfie with him. I have never seen anyone as delighted as this girl was. All night the cell camera’s were zoomed in so as not to miss a moment.
Next up was a sinful “On The Street Where You Live.” All I can say is if the revival of My Fair Lady has this version, it is sure to smolder.
Father to 12-week-old son Revel James Makail, John Mayer’s “Waiting on the World to Change” brought lyrics that really affected the singer, but it was “As Long As He Needs Me” from Oliver that his emotional ties to his son came through. The arrangement had Jimmy Emerson on flute and it added to the plaintiveness of the song. Also on “Waiting on the World to Change” there were some mean solos by Emerson on Sax and Daniel Kalischer on guitar.
Bill Withers “Ain’t No Sunshine” showed off the singers dancing skills, as well as some soul. Morrison feeds off the energy of his fans as he gyrated with a sinewy grace. During the song his hand slide down the mike as if making love to it and I can guarantee most of the audience wished it was them instead of that mike.
In “Hey There” from Pajama Game, Morrison oozed boyish charm as he played the ukulele. This was in tribute to his first gig as a back-up singer for Don Ho.
Brad Ellis, the arranger from Glee, is Morrison’s musical director and played the keys, but it was his arrangement of Cole Potter’s “It’s Alright With Me” that rocked the house. Morrison pulled some Bob Fosse moves that shook the house. Bass player Gary Wicks and drummer Pete Antunes also showed mad skills.
“We Kiss In The Shadow” was Morrison’s tribute to gay marriage and what life was like before acceptance.
His South Pacific medley made me want to see his performance and made me realize what a talented musician this man truly is.
Nominated for a Tony Award for his performance as Fabrizio in The Light In The Piazza “Il Mondo Era Vuoto,” was my favorite of the night. Stating “that show was the hardest I’ve ever done. It’s also the highlight of my career,” he vocally soared. It is in a more classical sound, that Morrison impresses and impress he does.
Keeping us up to date with the shows he has performed in, a Finding Neverland medley followed. A nine-minute Hairspray medley had Morrison rocking and rolling. It is clear he has a complete love for this show.
“Come Rain or Come Shine/ Basin Street Blues” allowed the whole band to show off. Morrison surrounds himself with some of best musicians and the caliber of this show is exceptional. For opening night Morrison’s guest was his wife Renee and the curtain call number was a medley of two Beatle songs for the girl who has knitted his young sons caps.
Morrison is personable and makes sure that everyone has a great seat and a fabulous time. His humor is a little sarcastic, but with a devilish charm. Morrison has that “it” factor and has talent galore. How Broadway hasn’t snatched him up to star in a role written for him is beyond puzzling. Do not miss this show as it is one of the best I have seen in a long time.
Matthew Morrison found his passion at a young age. The lightbulb in his soul turned on when he was ten-years old. It happened when his parents placed him into a children’s theater production of a show called The Herdmans go to Camp. And that was it. “I grew up as an only child and often felt lonely. But I was always creative. My imagination was always going and I made up new worlds,” shares the Emmy-, Golden Globe- and Tony-nominated Glee star and Broadway veteran. “Doing the show was the first time in my life where I got to use what was in my imagination and put it out into the world. It was focused into something.”
This monster-sized talent has been acting, dancing and singing ever since. In fact, this month Morrison is performing live at the glamorous 147-seat supper club Feinstein’s/54 Below. The shows will include standards and beloved songs from his past productions including Hairspray, The Light In The Piazza, South Pacific, Finding Neverland and Glee. Plus, the audience will have some surprises. “We have a special guest star every single night,” says Morrison. “I have a great list of people coming to sing a song with me.”
The concerts mark one of the first times that Morrison will be stepping onstage as a father. “Life is so amazing, and I’m very happy,” offers the proud papa. He and his wife Renee welcomed their son Revel this past October. “I feel a new energy, a new passion, a new light. All I want to do is share what I’m feeling now,” he reveals. “I’m excited to have the energy that is flowing through me flow through the audience. I hope they will feel what I’m feeling.”
What is the joy of doing your show at Feinstein’s/54 Below?
I love performing there. I am such a song and dance man. My shows usually incorporate a lot of dance. However, it’s kind of hard to dance on that small stage. But that forces me to change up my show a little and give in to the intimacy. I can really connect with the audience in less of a showman way. It’s really about connection. That space is so beautiful. I love the history of the room. [It was once the basement of the disco Studio 54.] Also, I love being in touch with the Broadway community, which is my family. It’s always good to go back.
What has becoming a dad been like for you?
There are few times in your life where you get to hit that reset button. It is so great to go on this new journey and be a lot less selfish. It’s not about me anymore. It’s about my son.
Does Revel sing?
He coos a lot. I wouldn’t call it singing. We’re not quite at that stage. We’re just getting to the stage when he’ll look at us and actually smile. That is everything!
What do you sing to him?
We sing a lot to him. We sing the lullaby from Finding Neverland [“Sylvia’s Lullaby”] all the time. Every morning as soon as he wakes up my wife and I sing “Good morning, good morning. You slept the whole night through.” That is our wake up song.
Would you like to do another Broadway show?
It is always something that I’m thinking about and is on my plate. I have a great team of people who are on the search for something. I also have my sights set on a specific show that I want to revive. Unfortunately, I can’t expel what that show is. It is something that I have been wanting to do for a long time. The pieces are starting to fall together.
And I love being a part of new works. Growing up and listening to all these Broadway cast albums, it’s so special to be a part of an original Broadway cast. There is something wonderful about being the first one to create a show and put your stamp on it. You’re the person they always compare the character to.
During your concert you sing songs that are beloved classics. How do you choose them?
Those songs connect with me. There is so much music out today where you can tell that the story was secondary. Nowadays, it’s all about coming up with a cool beat. But with classic songs, they’re telling a story with music and lyrics. Sometimes those stories are very simple. I love that. It’s all about the performer getting up there and putting meaning behind these simple stories. The combination of a performer and these beautiful songs can take a simple song and make it deep, reflective and stunning.
What inspired you and photographer Zach McDuffie to launch your gifts for dads and adventure gear company Sherpapa?
It’s unlike anything I have ever done. As an actor and singer, I am always worried about my next job and how it’s not in my hands. It is basically up to producers or the director to give me a job. Fortunately, I’m in a position where I can create a lot of my own stuff. Still, at the end of the day, I’m an actor for hire.
This business has forced me to use a completely different part of my brain. I think of an idea for a product and how to make it. Our big first prototype was a universal diaper bag. For men our only option was to use our wives’ diaper bags, which often has a big pink elephant on it. Otherwise, a backpack is not really functional.
We created a really cool gear bag that is for all seasons of fatherhood. In the baby market, I discovered that everything you buy is disposable. You use something for a year and then it is garage sale fodder. We are trying to be environmentally conscious and come up with products that will be heirloom quality. These are diaper bags. But eventually I want to use it to hold my tools to fix my son’s first apartment. And one day I will pass it down to him.
What do you miss about doing Glee?
Glee was such an important part of my life, and so special. I think I took it for granted when it was going on because it all happened so fast. We were on this crazy rollercoaster ride. We were a huge, successful hit right away. I didn’t really have a chance to process things.
I’m proud that we really tackled some great storylines. I believe we helped a lot of people figure out things like being gay in high school or having a teenage pregnancy or being bullied. A family could watch this television show together, and at the end of the episode have a great conversation about what they just watched. Hopefully, we changed some lives along the way.
Matthew Morrison is tapping outside by the pool. Under a canopy of palm trees with the Los Angeles sun beaming down, he’s grooving to the music in his mind. Watching him dance can transport you to a different era.
Set against the backdrop of the Hollywood Hills, the scene looks plucked from the Tinseltown of yore. The classic song-and-dance man moves to the beat of his own drum with a sense of unbridled joy. Has Gene Kelly come back to life? Has the departed soul of Fred Astaire been reincarnated?
“I am someone who feels like I was born in the wrong era,” Morrison says. “I have a connection with that music and that time and just how simple it was. Today, music is all about coming up with a cool beat, whereas back then [it was] music and lyrics that tell a story.”
Our photo shoot is at the Garcia House, an architectural icon designed by John Lautner that is famous as the house that rolls down the hill in Lethal Weapon 2. Celebrity tour buses drive by throughout the day, and when the echo of a tour guide’s microphone reverberates through the house, Morrison jokingly waves and smiles, though no fan can see him.
After the shoot, back in his own clothing (a cream-colored sweater, faded jeans, and white Converse sneakers), Morrison sits in an armchair in the book-lined study. The sun is setting, and pink and orange hues filter through the wide windows overlooking the hills. If he’s exhausted from the day, he doesn’t show it.
Morrison is a triple threat — singer, dancer, actor — an increasing rarity in an industry obsessed with quick hits and Instagram followings. After cutting his teeth on Broadway starring in shows like Hairspray and South Pacific, Morrison catapulted into the spotlight on the Fox musical television series Glee as Will Schuester, the loveable Spanish teacher with big dreams.
Right now, he’s focused on his latest role: father. His son, Revel James Makai Morrison, was born on Oct. 12, 2017. Revel and Morrison’s wife, Renee, joined him at our photo shoot. In between setups, Morrison would lovingly dote on his wife and son, never losing the quintessential new-dad expression of curiosity, concern, and adoration. As an only child, Morrison didn’t grow up around other children, so caring for and bonding with Revel has been a transformative experience.
“Seeing him develop that awareness of what it is to be around a child, and to see that beautiful innocence, it’s so powerful,” Renee says. “I’ve never met anybody who is so concerned and just passionate about being there for his family. He’s just such an incredible human. I feel so fortunate to be his partner.”
Renee says Morrison has taken a hands-on role in parenting, changing most of the diapers when he’s home. She says he constantly worries whether Revel is breathing.
“It’s scary. We’re really responsible for this human being,” Morrison says. “All the things you hear about going into parenting are true. I’ve never known love like this.”
Morrison’s smile is disarming, and he has an easy confidence that makes you wonder if he’s always performing. When he’s passionate about his subject — his wife, his son, Broadway — he doesn’t miss a beat, and his voice lures you in, leaving you hanging on every word as if it were a musical note. Every fidget becomes a little dance.
According to his mentor, Ralph Opacic, he has had star quality from a young age.
“He was that likable, charismatic kid,” says Opacic, who is the founder and executive director of the Orange County School of the Arts in Los Alamitos, Calif., where Morrison graduated from high school. “He fit in with the artistic musical-theater kids at OCSA. He fit in with the athletes on the soccer field. He fit in with the student-leadership kids.”
After six seasons on Glee in a part Morrison says was tailor-made for him and his talents, he’s eager to dive into unexpected roles, departing from the good-guy archetype. “I feel like everyone kind of thinks of me as Mr. Schuester, that kind of happy-go-lucky nice guy, which I am, but I’m an actor,” he says. “I have been doing this my whole life. I feel like I have a lot of depth and different things to offer.”
He’s eager to do it all: film (he appeared in the Alicia Vikander vehicle Tulip Fever); television (he has a recurring role on Grey’s Anatomy as Dr. Jo Wilson’s abusive ex-husband); and the stage (he led a benefit concert of Damn Yankees alongside Maggie Gyllenhaal and Whoopi Goldberg in December.)
Early 2018 is busy for Morrison: He’s performing six nights at Feinstein’s/54 Below in New York, Jan. 7-13. “It’s one of the sexiest rooms in New York,” he says. “I love how intimate it is; I love that I can just talk to people.”
As far as what he plans to perform, Morrison is still figuring it out and wants to let his instincts lead him in the moment. “I’m very free-flowing and I like to ad lib onstage, so I just kind of go wherever I go,” he says.
In February, he’ll travel to Japan, where he’s headlining six shows in Tokyo and Osaka, and then he’ll return to China to complete filming for the sci-fi movie Crazy Alien, which will be released in 2019.
Theater will always be home for Morrison. “I can’t not be on the stage,” he says with a sigh. “You have that bond with those people, because you are literally looking out for each other, and if something goes wrong you have to count on these people — you can’t just call ‘cut.’”
He’d love to play Billy Bigelow in Carousel, John Wilkes Booth in Assassins, and put on a production of City of Angels. “And I want to do it with Leslie Odom Jr.,” he says.
Morrison follows his passions wherever they take him, from stage to screen and back again. His latest venture is a startup, Sherpapa Supply Co., a lifestyle brand for family adventures. He cofounded the company, which sells durable gear specifically for dads, with his friend Zach McDuffie.
“Everything you buy as a parent is garage-sale fodder within the first year,” he explains. “We believe in durability over the disposable. Our bag is for all seasons of fatherhood, from the go-bag to the delivery room, to the diaper bag, to carrying food and snacks for your kid, to putting your tools in it to fix your daughter’s first apartment.”
Morrison wants to limit how often he is on the road touring so he can be home with his family, but he says becoming a father won’t change how he selects projects.
“It’s changed my perspective on work,” Morrison says. “I’m in a business where it’s very selfish. You’re always thinking about yourself, and I just don’t feel that way anymore. It’s not about you anymore; it’s about your family unit. For me, that’s the most important thing in my life right now.”
Styled by Drew Jessup Hair and makeup by Diana Schmidtke Shot at The Garcia House
The father of one, 39, recently told PEOPLE about his daddy-baby bonding time and the joys of newfound parenting as well as Sherpapa Supply Co., his line of gear and accessories designed for the modern dad and family man, which landed a coveted spot on Gwyneth Paltrow‘s goop gift guide this holiday season.
“I revel in his bravery. It sounds weird but with especially with everything going on right now, he’s so brave to come into this world. He’s teaching me so much,” Morrison said about his only child.
“He can’t talk to me yet but he’s forcing me to learn how to communicate with someone who is trying to communicate with me. It’s a lesson in patience. I’ve never been impatient with my child. I know a lot of parents can be,” the star continued. “I’m learning how to communicate with him about him and what every burp and fart means.”
The Glee alum and Zach McDuffie, a photographer, entrepreneur and father to a three-year-old little girl, launched Sherpapa Supply Co. to create quality products for all parents. (Morrison and McDuffie recommend their popular reversible blanket for a future Christmas gift!)
“Zach’s the best example for me of a present, proactive father and that’s what I want to be so it’s been a great journey. It informs who I am as a father,” Morrison said about building his lifestyle brand and raising his son. “I’m ready for anything, I’m so prepared. I love being prepared and that’s basically why we started this company. Sometimes having a kid is planning a NASA launch.”
One particular thing he’s recently proud of is his son’s growth.
“[Revel] moved out of his newborn diapers so he’s on the next stage of diapers which is very exciting. But we actually try to do the diapers that aren’t really diapers, the cloth diapers. It’s a lot of washing, a lot of laundry. It’s eco-friendly and we’re trying to do that as much as we can,” Morrison said.
“The biggest one I would say I felt like for the first time maybe in the last week he saw me for the first time,” he added. “He actually had that recognition and he smiled. I can’t wait until we make him laugh and to hear his laugh.”
For the 29th annual World AIDS Day (Dec. 1), legendary artist and noted philanthropist Sir Elton John is continuing his commitment to raising awareness and funds for the global HIV/AIDS epidemic with the help of mobile messaging app Kwippitand 25 famous friends.
Each day during the next month, a custom-made digital heart — similar to an emoji — is set to release to subscribers of Kwippit’s Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF)channel to share on social media and text messages. One hundred percent of the proceeds from downloads ($.99 annual membership) directly benefits the non-profit’s grant-making programs that focus on raising awareness, sharing preventative information, and offering medical care and treatment to all people living with HIV.
John, who designed six of the 31 hearts for the digital campaign (exclusive sketch below) tells Billboard: “I am so grateful to all of the EJAF friends participating in this Kwippit project for sharing their creativity with us, supporting our work, remaining steadfast to the cause, and believing in our ideals.”
“Ending AIDS ultimately comes down to this: We must open our hearts to love one another and help every person in need, regardless of who they are, who they love, where they’re from, or what they do,” said EJAF executive director Scott P. Campbell. “That’s what this campaign is all about — opening our hearts and raising funds to end AIDS once and for all — for everyone.”
In the Spring, the Foundation is capitalizing on its long-standing relationship with Hollywood by hosting an auction during its 26th annual Academy Awards Viewing Party (Mar. 4, 2018). During the sale, all 31 custom heart designs — 6”x 6” heart-shaped tiles — are framed and autographed by each celebrity.
Musicians lending their support include Boy George, Cyndi Lauper, Steven Tyler, Ozzy Osbourne, Ansel Elgort, Beth Ditto, Adam Lambert along with Broadway stars Neil Patrick Harris and Andrew Rannells. Other celebrity supporters include Ellen DeGeneres, Andy Cohen, Lea Michele, Matthew Morrison, Chris Colfer, Sharon Stone, Jonathan Groff, Colton Haynes, Cheyenne Jackson, Billie Jean King, Heidi Klum, Padma Lakshmi, Sandra Lee, Andy Roddick, Jake Shears, and Russell Tovey.
“We’re incredibly honored to work with the Elton John AIDS Foundation on this campaign,” adds Kwippit’s chief brand officer, Krista Treide. “We’re excited to connect the digital/social media generation with EJAF’s important efforts to end the AIDS epidemic in our lifetime.”
Roundabout’s Associate Artist Kathleen Marshall will direct this one-night only special event. Roundabout welcomes back Kathleen following her Tony Award winning work directing and choregraphing Anything Goes and prior to that, her Tony- winning choreography for another Adler and Ross musical comedy – The Pajama Game (Tony Award, Best Revival). Ms. Gyllenhaal returns following her acclaimed Broadway debut in The Real Thing, Matthew Morrison was last at Roundabout in A Naked Girl on the Appian Way, Danny Burstein returns following his Tony nominated performance in Cabaret and before that Talley’s Folly, Victoria Clark returns following her starring role in The Marriage of Bette and Boo, Annie Golden returns after the Tony-nominated musical Violet and Julie Halston was last with Roundabout for Anything Goes and On the Twentieth Century. Roundabout is thrilled to welcome legendary Ms. Goldberg and Adrienne Warren into the family of Roundabout artists.
The Benefit Concert Reading will take place on Monday, December 11, 2017 at 7:30 PM at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre.
Would you do ANYTHING to help your favorite baseball team win the pennant? In the Faustian baseball musical, Damn Yankees, Joe Boyd sells his soul to the devil to be the home run hitter that will guide his favorite team, the Washington Senators, to a win against those “Damn Yankees.” Featuring the classical musical theatre standards, “Heart,” “Two Lost Souls” and “Whatever Lola Wants”, follow Joe in his quest to save his team…and his soul.
Proceeds from the Benefit Concert Reading of Damn Yankees support Roundabout Theatre Company‘s many programs and initiatives, including Education at Roundabout.
VIP, Benefactor and Producer tickets include admission to an exclusive cast party following the performance. Additional cast members and creative team will be announced soon. Generous underwriting support is provided by Roxanne and Scott Bok, Michael T. Cohen, Colliers International NY LLC, Kiendl and John Gordon, Tom and Kitty Patterson Kempner, and Diane and Tom Tuft. Damn Yankees is sponsored by Google. Golden Ram Imports is the wine sponsor for the evening.
Matthew Morrison is locked, loaded and ready for diaper duty.
The Glee alum arrived to Poppy nightclub in a “proud papa” costume for his 8th annual Halloween party to make a quick appearance before he dashed home to be with his model wife Renee Puente, and newborn son, Revel James Makai Morrison.
The annual celeb-filled party—presented by PacSun and Podwall Entertainment—celebrated the spooky holiday and the star’s 39th birthday in typical fashion with a barrage of A-list guests and great costumes.
According to his Instagram, Morrison dressed as a “sherpapa” who is described as a “strong family leader, guide, and protector of our children’s future. It is also a term of endearment for a beloved father or grandfather.”
It’s very fitting for the new father who explained to E! News exclusively that the birth of his first child two weeks ago has been a “beautiful transformation in my life.”
Morrison says the first weeks have been a “whirlwind” with a lot of firsts—like seeing his son shed actual tears, which had yet to happen.
The Broadway star said that on the day of the party, “We put him in the car seat and he hates that thing—so he had some real tears today.”
The star also gave some insight as to how he and his wife chose their first son’s special name.
He explained that they knew they wanted an “R” name for a boy and an “M” name for a girl, but were careful to choose a name that wasn’t “weird.”
“We wanted to revel in our child and we were like, Revel, that is just so cool and we will call him Rev for short,” he explained to us.
As for fatherhood, the actor said that it “is something I have been ready for.” One thing he wasn’t ready for? “The blowouts in his diapers—that has been pretty surprising to me,” he joked.
Congratulations again to the new dad and one special celebration.