Matthew Morrison and Shoshana been lit up the stage at the Strathmore’s Annual Spring Gala in North Bethesda on Saturday. The evening started out with Shoshana Bean‘s jazz set which perfectly showcased her incredible voice. Bean’s set included many songs from her 2018 album “Spectrum” which she expressed was an album that was rooted in and inspired by music from her childhood. Bean opened her set with a song from this album entitled “Remember the Day” – an electrifying jazz song which showcased Bean’s exquisite voice and personality. She had the audience in the palm of her hand from the first note. Bean continued with songs from “Spectrum” including “I Wanna Be Around” and “Strange Thunder.” Bean introduced her music director and producer David Cook who was on piano, and exclaimed to Cook that “you’re one of my favorite people to make music with.” The Bean and Cook pair made some exceptional music which resonated gracefully, throughout the beautiful Strathmore music hall.
[…] “Please welcome the Tony, Grammy, and Emmy, nominated stage and screen star Matthew Morrison” said a voice which the audience came to realize was actually Matthew Morrisoncomically introducing himself as he hid behind his hat and walked onto the stage. Morrison opened his set with Sinatra’s “The Lady is a Tramp” which was simply amazing. Morrison had the audience laughing yet again when he nervously pointed out that he has “such a tough act to follow” in regards to Bean’s powerhouse opening performance. Then Morrison charmed the audience when he dedicated the song “As Long as He needs me” to his now eighteen month old son, Revel.
The majority of the second half of Morrison’s set was dedicated to musical theatre hits. Morrison started this segment with “On the Street Where you Live” from Lerner and Lowe’s My Fair Lady. Morrison then introduced, Brad Ellis on the piano, who was sure to note that he was also on Glee. Morrison continued to thrill the audience with a medley from West Side Story which included the songs: “When You’re a Jet, America, Officer Krumpke, and Maria.” Continuing the support of arts education, Morrison brought out the Strathmore Children’s Chorus who are the Young Artists of America. This group of talented children joined Morrison for his Finding Neverland medley of songs from the Broadway show which included: “Neverland and Stronger.” He then transitioned into “Zippadee doo dah and The Bare Necessities” –the Disney medley that Morrison gracefully sang with a ukulele in hand. Continuing his Disney theme, Morrison joked with telling the staff that he wanted Shoshana out for a duet with him. Finally, he looked off stage and invited her on to perform “A Whole New World” from Aladdin together. This was a truly magical moment. Morrison and Bean together are nothing short of exceptional.
Headlining the evening’s concert performance were the singularly talented Matthew Morrison (interviewed here by DCMTA’s Nicole Hertvik) and Shoshana Bean. The Tony, Emmy, and Golden Globe-nominated Matthew Morrison may be best known in popular culture as Mr. Schuester from the television show Glee, but the Broadway community will know him for his twenty-year stage career in roles such as Link Larkin in the original Broadway cast of Hairspray, Fabrizio Nacarelli in The Light in the Piazza (which gained him a Tony nomination), Lieutenant Cable in a Lincoln Center production of South Pacific, and most recently as J. M. Barrie in Finding Neverland.
[…]A quick change of pianist and the evening moved into an entirely different feel; from jazz club with Bean to Broadway stage with the one and only Matthew Morrison. Starting with a collection of ballads from his Where It All Began album, “The Lady is Tramp,” “As Long as He Needs Me” from Oliver (in honor of his 18-month old son), and “On the Street Where You Live” from My Fair Lady all showcased Morrison’s longtime love of the performing arts. A skilled dancer and boundlessly energetic entertainer, he filled every inch of the stage with personality, cheek, and flair, especially in a West Side Story medley featuring Jet Song / Something’s Coming / Cool / America / Maria, and a Gene Kelly-inspired “Singin’ in the Rain” that was as joyous as it was exuberant. Much like musicals themselves, which turn to song when an emotion is stronger than words’ ability to convey it, Morrison seemed moved to dance when his music needed to be carried farther than the notes could take it.
Highlights from the remainder of his set (too numerous to mention all of) included a Finding Neverland medley with Strathmore Children’s Chorus and Young Artists of America singers (Neverland / Stronger), “A Whole New World” duet with Bean, and a vivacious Hairspray medley (Good Morning Baltimore / Nicest Kids in Town / Welcome to the ’60s / Big, Blonde, and Beautiful / Without Love / You Can’t Stop the Beat) all proving what no one in attendance had any doubt of, that Morrison possesses what the very best Broadway performers have: the ability to radiate a story from every inch of themselves.