Matthew performs at the 4th Annual Elsie Fest, Broadway’s Outdoor Music Festival, at the Central Park SummerStage on October 7, 2018.
Credit: Jenny Anderson/Getty Images
4th Annual Elsie Fest, Broadway’s Outdoor Music Festival
POSTED ON Oct 08, 2018 BY Valentina INGallery
Matthew performs at the 4th Annual Elsie Fest, Broadway’s Outdoor Music Festival, at the Central Park SummerStage on October 7, 2018.
Credit: Jenny Anderson/Getty Images
Matthew attends Today Tix Live 5-Year Anniversary celebration, hosted by Darren Criss, to benefit Dramatists Guild Foundation at National Sawdust on September 24, 2018 in New York City.
Photos by Jenny Anderson/Getty Images
BWW Exclusive Interview: Matthew Morrison Will Bring Glee to Bay Area Cabaret; Recalls Weinstein Woes on Broadway
POSTED ON Sep 14, 2018 BY Valentina INInterview
Matthew Morrison couldn’t be more “Glee”-ful about launching Bay Area Cabaret’s 15th Anniversary Season on Sept. 30 at the world-famous Venetian Room at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. ”I love places that have so much history,” says the Tony, Emmy and Golden Globe nominee. Among the celebrated singers who’ve sung there: Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Marlene Dietrich, Peggy Lee and Tina Turner. And in 1961, Tony Bennett first performed ”I Left My Heart in San Francisco” there, which is especially apt since the Fairmont sits high upon Nob Hill, “where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars.”
Morrison will be making his San Francisco cabaret debut with his spectacular show, “Song and Dance Man.” He will croon showtunes by the score and uphold the highest standards of the American songbook. Footloose and fun, he’ll dance about as if Gene Kelly were in his genes. In ”Hairspray,” he belted “You Can’t Stop the Beat.” But in concert, you can’t stop his feet.
Marilyn Levinson, the founding executive producer of Bay Area Cabaret, says: “I chose Matthew to open our 15th Anniversary Season because he embodies the best of what Bay Area Cabaret looks for in an artist: He is a consummate, triple-threat performer. I first saw him in “South Pacific” at Lincoln Center, and his dancing amazed me when I saw his solo show in New York. He also has a genuine love of Broadway and the standards, and he knows how to play to every member of his audience.”
Morrison is best-known as “Mr. Schue,” the compassionate teacher who “carefully taught” his “Glee” club of kids about music, life and love. But we chatted with him about what he has learned from being a performer, a parent and an entrepreneur. He also reflected on “Finding Neverland” and says his producer, Harvey Weinstein, “turned off … the Broadway community” with his bullying tactics. And he gave us exclusive news about his BBC talent show and his grand plans for a Museum of Dance.
Congrats, Matt, on kicking off the 15th season of Bay Area Cabaret. Have you ever played San Francisco?
The only national tour I ever did was “Footloose” [in 1999], and we played the Curran. But this will be my San Francisco cabaret debut. I can’t believe it’s taken so long. I’m a Northern California boy. I grew up in Chico, two hours outside of San Francisco. I remember the open spaces, the greenery and walking through creeks. It’s where I got my love of camping and the outdoors.
Meantime, you’ll get to see the indoors of the Venetian Room. It’s a stunning ballroom with a beautiful, 22-foot-high ceiling.
A couple days ago, my dad said, ”I’ve sung at the Venetian Room.” I said, ”What?” My dad does not sing. At all. But once he took a tour of the Fairmont Hotel, and they handed everyone lyrics to “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” So my dad says he sang there before I did. (Laughs.) Tony Bennett has a lot of history in that room, and he does the standards better than anyone. I can’t wait to perform at the Venetian and feel the voices of the past. We’ll be doing a fun show with a 5-piece combo, and Brad Ellis will be my musical director. Brad and I have such a rich history that originated on the set of “Glee.” He is a mentor and a friend.
Your show is called “Song and Dance Man,” and you’re always on the move. You don’t just stand at the mike and sing. You swivel and swerve all over. To quote a “Finding Neverland” lyric, sometimes “your feet don’t touch the ground.”
Dance has always been so special and unique to what I do. Some of it’s choreographed. Some of it’s just me being inspired by the music. I can’t help it. I’m a mover. It’s just who I am. And I love Broadway, so I’ll be singing songs I’ve done there, from ”Hairspray,” ”The Light in the Piazza” and “South Pacific.” I’ve always felt I was born in the wrong era. I love the standards.
Your second CD, “Where It All Began,” is full of standards, but you give them your own spin. Like how you jazz up “It Don’t Mean a Thing” or “On the Street Where You Live.” And lately, you’ve found a new way to do a classic from “Oliver!”
Yeah, as a straight guy, I never felt a connection to “As Long as He Needs Me.” But last October, I had a son [Revel]. Now, I can do this song and it’s about my kid. It really touched me. That’s the beauty of standards; you can bring a new meaning to them.
As a longtime straight ally, you’ve also brought a new meaning to “We Kiss in a Shadow”: as a salute to gay marriage.
I really want to bring that to San Francisco, too. I strip it down, with no microphone. Just a ukulele. It has so much meaning.
As we’re chatting, the Senate is holding Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Brett Kavanaugh won’t say if he believes in marriage equality or if Obergefell is settled law. Do you have any concerns that marriage equality might be reversed?
I think we all have concerns about this [Trump] administration. But we’ve come so far, and I can’t imagine it being reversed. The LGBTQ community is so active and political. If it were reversed, it would be the next modern-day civil war.
No doubt you’ll do a couple of the lovely songs from “Finding Neverland” (by Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy). You got to play J.M. Barrie in a show about how he was inspired to write “Peter Pan.” And you won the BroadwayWorld Award for Best Actor in a Musical and received Drama Desk and Drama League nominations. What did “Finding Neverland” mean to you?
I always knew I wanted to be a father someday, and that show really informed me about the kind of father I wanted to be: someone who never loses sight of that child inside himself. Over the course of my life, I really did lose that. Luckily, I’m in a career where I get to play constantly. But the work I was taking was becoming just that: work. The fun and the play wasn’t in it anymore. But “Finding Neverland” opened up my imagination and my thoughts on fatherhood in a more serious way.
“Finding Neverland” started off strongly, grossing over $1 million a week from its first previews in March 2015 and through that August. I wished it won a ton of Tonys, but the reviews were rough and the nominators snubbed it. You tweeted: “Despite [the lack of] nominations, I’m so proud to be in a show that takes audiences on a beautiful journey.” What happened?
I guess I can talk about it now, but a lot of it was [due to] Harvey Weinstein. It was kind of a shock. The way he acted [as a producer] turned off a lot of people in the Broadway community. He tried to bully his way into getting nominations, and that [rubbed] people the wrong way. But the show had a nice healthy run; it was beautifully done, and Diane Paulus did a great job.
Weinstein always said he was so proud of the cast. Before “Neverland” got the hook in August 2016, he even announced that he wanted to make a movie of it, starring you and Kelsey Grammer, and bring in Helen Mirren. Now, that’s unlikely. When the allegations of Weinstein sexually harassing various women came out last October, what did you think? Was it disbelief?
It wasn’t total disbelief. I’ve heard of a lot of stories in my time [about sexual harassment in showbiz], but it was never to that level or that extreme. Honestly, there were two sides of Harvey: the side that I never saw, and the other side where he was incredibly gracious to me and my family. He really took care of us for the whole run of “Finding Neverland.”
Your concerts often include a song from “Glee.” You must be thrilled with how well your “students” are doing. Amber Riley won the Olivier for “Dreamgirls” in London. Harry Shum Jr. is in “Shadowhunters” and “Crazy Rich Asians.” And this Monday, Darren Criss is up for an Emmy for Ryan Murphy’s “The Assassination of Gianni Versace.” Did you get to see him in that?
Absolutely. I was talking to Darren yesterday. He’s just so talented. I love everything he does or touches. He’s so smart. That was such a great turn to go from Blaine [in “Glee”] to Cunanan [in “Versace”]. I’m rooting for him at the Emmys.
Speaking of TV, tell me about “The Greatest Dancer,” the new show you’re doing with Simon Cowell.
It’s thrilling and so fresh. It’s Simon’s first talent show for the BBC. I’m a dance captain, along with Cheryl Tweedy and Oti Mabuse. The dancers walk into an audition room with mirrors before them. And there’s an audience of 3,000 behind the mirrors, but the dancers don’t know it. If 75% of the audience, which has controls, lights up for them, the dancers go on to the next round. I don’t vote. I’m just there to give positive, constructive criticism and inspire them. It’ll start airing in January in the U.K.
You’re always juggling so many projects. Are you still hoping to revive “City of Angels” for Broadway?
The rights are still held up in London, but I’m doing an upcoming sitzprobe with Ted Sperling [from Lincoln Center]. He’s starting a new program at NYU for future pit musicians. One day, we’ll go through the score of “City of Angels,” and I’ll play Stone. I love that role. Meantime, we’re still trying to lock in a Stine. Possibly Patrick Wilson. Possibly Leslie Odom, Jr.
One of your other dream roles is Booth in “Assassins.” So what was it like to be in a workshop of Stephen Sondheim’s new musical based on Luis Bunuel’s “The Exterminating Angel” and “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeousie“?
Exciting. It was very much in the beginning stages [in November 2016]. But I will say that the music was classic Sondheim, which was so exciting to sing. He still possesses that singular brilliance to tie together a haunting melody with provocative lyrics.
You’ve always performed a lot for charity. In 2005, we produced the first “Leading Men” concert for Broadway Cares at Joe’s Pub. You were the first guy we asked and the first guy to accept. John Tartaglia hosted, and Seth Rudetsky music-directed. It was a showcase for young Broadway pros, like you, and cabaret stars, like Tom Andersen. Do you remember any of that?
Of course, I do. I even remember what I was wearing that night: a red shirt with black stripes. And backstage, I had a big bag of peanut M&Ms. I sang a song I loved [“One Day More” by Georgia Stitt]. I had such a good time with the guys you brought together for that, and just look at their careers: Cheyenne Jackson, Barrett Foa, Christopher Sieber, Chad Kimball …
Besides being a performer, you’re an entrepreneur. One of your idols, Paul Newman, inspired you to co-found (with Zach McDuffie) the SHERPAPA Supply Company, which sells “high-quality gifts and gear for the modern family.” As you’ve written at Sherpapa.com, your company isn’t simply about selling T-shirts, caps and bags: ”It’s about inspiring men to handle responsibility, set a great example, and to ultimately keep their cool.” And that’s not your only new project, is it?
No. I’m creating a Museum of Dance in New York City. It’ll tell the history of dance, and it’ll be a completely immersive theater experience. For example, as you walk through the 1920s section, we’ll have dancers who perform and can teach you the Charleston. Some of our advisory board members include Chita Rivera and Tommy Tune. We hope to open in early 2020 in Long Island City and create other versions in Tokyo, London and Paris. I’d love to bring culture together through dance. And I want to turn that area in Long Island City into a new Times Square. Broadway has become so elite and too expensive for families.
Just to bring things full-circle, your Bay Area Cabaret show is on Sept. 30. But the next day, Oct. 1, kicks off a pretty historic month for you. Oct. 12 is Revel’s first birthday. And Oct. 30, you hit the big 4-0. How do you feel about that?
I’m going into this next decade with so much excitement and hope. And new projects and a family. There’s so much to be thankful for. It’s also Renee’s birthday in October and our wedding anniversary. It feels like the beginning of a new Matthew Morrison.
That might’ve begun as soon as you met Renee. In fact, how did you meet this gorgeous Hawaiian actress and model?
Eight years ago, I was at a Grammy party. It was literally “some enchanted evening,” and we saw each other “across a crowded room.” But we didn’t meet until I was leaving the party. I heard this girl speaking Pidgin, which is Hawaiian slang. I had spent a lot of time in Hawaii, and my first gig was singing backup for Don Ho. Then, I saw Renee. I thought “F*ck it” and went up to her and said: “How is it, Sistah?” She looked at this white boy speaking Pidgin and just laughed. And the rest is history.
Matthew Morrison performs Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. at the Venetian Room at the Fairmont Hotel, 450 Mason St., San Francisco. Opening-night tickets, $125. The rest of Bay Area Cabaret’s 2018-19 season features: Gavin Creel (Oct. 14); Kate Baldwin (Nov. 4); Christine Andreas (Dec. 2); Carmen Cusack and Susan Werner (Jan. 20); John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey (March 3); Catherine Russell (March 24), and LaChanze (May 19). For more info, call (415) 927-4636 or visit bayareacabaret.org.
Kelli O’Hara and Matthew Morrison Will Reunite for San Diego Concert
POSTED ON Jul 27, 2018 BY Valentina INNews
Two of Broadway’s brightest stars come together for one glittering evening of American song with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra. Matthew Morrison is well-known for his featured roles in Broadway’s Hairspray, The Light in the Piazza and South Pacific as well as the landmark Fox TV series, Glee. Before winning the Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in a Musical for the 2015 revival of The King and I, Kelli O’Hara was Morrison’s co-star in The Light in the Piazza and South Pacific. Together they and the Symphony will make Copley Symphony Hall shine like the Great White Way.
Matthew and Renee attend the opening night of “Head Over Heels” on July 26, 2018 at the Hudson Theatre in New York City.
Matthew Morrison and Laura Michelle Kelly Perform Rodgers and Hammerstein With the Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Matthew and former Finding Neverland co-star Laura Michelle Kelly performed with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir over the past week in Salt Lake City. The full show can be watched below.
Interwoven throughout the narration was music from their best loved musicals, beginning with the choir’s rendition of “It’s a Grand Night of Singing from STATE FAIR and featuring numbers from OKLAHOMA!, CAROUSEL, SOUTH PACIFIC, THE KING AND I, and THE SOUND OF MUSIC. What better songs to showcase the mellifluous pipes of the incomparable Matthew Morrison and Laura Michelle Kelly, reunited after starring together in the original cast of FINDING NEVERLAND? They were featured heavily throughout the evening, including in duets such as “People Will Say We’re in Love” from OKLAHOMA! and such memorable solos as Kelly’s “(When I Marry) Mister Snow” from CAROUSEL and Morrison’s “Younger than Springtime” from SOUTH PACIFIC (which he performed in the Lincoln Center revival).
Both showed a playful side, with Morrison leading the choir and dancing through the title song from OKLAHOMA! and Kelly taking off her shoes and gifting a flower to a choir member in “I’m in Love with a Wonderful Guy” from SOUTH PACIFIC.
The highlight of the show was the unexpected inclusion of the “Wedding Processional” in a medley from THE SOUND OF MUSIC that included classic Mormon Tabernacle Choir arrangements of the title song and “Climb Every Mountain.” The scale of the performance of the processional from Richard Elliott at the massive pipe organ with the orchestra and choir was nothing short of thrilling.
The concert ended on a high note with an inspiring finale in which Morrison and Kelly joined the choir and orchestra to perform the anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from CAROUSEL under the breathtaking star-lit sky suspended above them.
Matthew will present at the 2018 Tony Awards, June 10 on CBS.
Muny celebrates its centennial with a dazzling musical revue
POSTED ON May 21, 2018 BY Valentina INNews
It rained Saturday night, but that didn’t dampen spirits at the Muny, where a host of performers carried on and a crowd of 6,975 fans cheered and clapped through “An Evening with the Stars” — the theater’s Centennial Gala.
The one-time-only show’s originally scheduled performance, on Friday night, was postponed because of rain. On Saturday, it went ahead at 9:15 p.m. but before a smaller audience, with two long interruptions for rain. But almost nobody left.
“We have missed only one show in 20 years,” said Chuck Mueller of Belleville, who sat under an umbrella with his wife, Jan, surrounded by relatives. “That was a rainout.”
He wasn’t about to let that happen twice. And you could see his point, because this event involved a sensational production. Almost every act could have been the “11 o’clock number” in any normal show.
Broadway icon Chita Rivera, in a stunning red sequinned pants suit, gave a zesty performance of “All That Jazz” from “Chicago” and teamed up with the legendary Tommy Tune for “Rosie” from “Bye Bye Birdie.” Ken Page, who got his start at the Muny before he played Old Deuteronomy in the original Broadway production of “Cats” , sang a tender rendition of that show’s biggest song, “Memory.”
The evening’s hosts, Broadway stars Matthew Morrison and Heather Headley, introduced the other artists and performed dynamic numbers of their own. Morrison led a highly condensed, 8-minute version of “Hairspray” while Headley soloed in a breathtaking medley of songs from “Funny Girl.”
Patrick Cassidy led a lively chorus of Muny Kids, Muny Teens and Muny veterans in “Trouble” from “The Music Man,” then presented a clip in which his mother, Muny Hall-of-Famer Shirley Jones, wished the theater happy birthday.
Two other Broadway stars, Graham Rowat and Jenny Powers, added elegance and comedy, respectively.
A big dance ensemble, choreographed by Michael Baxter, shone throughout, particularly when they joined Lara Teeter in a big tap treatment of “We’re in the Money” from “42nd Street” and in “Seize the Day” from “Newsies.”
Dennis Reagan, the Muny’s president and CEO, thanked “the best audience in the world” for its patience through the rain delays. Virtually everyone received generous applause, including the stagehands who mopped the stage after both cloudbursts. Paul Tarte dePoo III designed the versatile sets, Robin L. McGee designed the festive costumes and music director Michael Horsley led the generous Muny orchestra. Matt Kunkel directed the show, which kept a bright pace despite the weather.
For the last number a little before midnight, the audience enjoyed “One” and a fabulous fireworks display. In “A Chorus Line,” “One” is about a glamorous entertainer. But on Saturday night, it was unmistakably a song about the Muny.
Thousands more Muny lovers came to the Forest Park theater Sunday afternoon, where the celebration continued with lots of activities for families. The weather was lovely.
Sunrise, Florida (CNN) Drama students past and present shared the stage Monday night for a benefit concert featuring stars and survivors of a school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
“From Broadway With Love: A Benefit Concert for Parkland, USA” featured a star-studded roster of Broadway and television entertainers, including “Glee” actor Matthew Morrison, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” star Rachel Bloom and award-winning recording artist Deborah Cox.
More than 4,700 people attended the concert at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, organizers said. The celebrity entertainers performed with Stoneman Douglas students and local arts groups, including the Student Choir of Broward and Dance Theatre of Broward, on a program that ranged from upbeat and inspirational to reflective and moving to fun and silly.
Despite the circumstances that brought them together, Bloom said the chemistry among the performers was instantly palpable. After all, the celebrity performers were once theater kids, she said.
“Tonight is about them and I’m happy to be here and support them. The kids from Marjory Stoneman Douglas are doing what the arts are supposed to do — they are channeling their intense feelings and rage and thoughts into their art, which is a way to communicate with people and make the world better,” Bloom said in an interview before the show.
“This is an example of why theater and the arts in schools is so important,” she said. “It makes me proud to be a fellow theater kid seeing what all these people are doing with theater and music.”
‘A healing night’
The concert opened with a stirring rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” sung by “Mamma Mia!” actress Carrie Manolakos and a choir of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students.Former “American Idol” contestant Justin Guarini performed a song written by a Stoneman Douglas student.
Deborah Cox crooned “I Will Always Love You” as images of the 17 victims flashed behind her. The dance group that victim Jaime Guttenberg belonged to staged an emotional performance that elicited cheers of “We love you, Jaime” as the dancers left the spotlight.
Moments of levity punctuated the somber tone, such as Bloom’s rendition of “F—ton of Cats” and Erich Bergen’s performance of “Man in the Mirror,” all with backup from Stoneman Douglas students. “Glee” star Matthew Morrison and Stoneman Douglas senior Kali Clougherty nearly stole the show with a duet performance of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
Stoneman Douglas sophomore Tanzil Philip, who hit the high note near the end of “Seasons of Love,” said performing in the show was difficult during the memorial parts. “But by the end, the whole thing felt healing,” he said. “It was a healing night.”
‘Everything we’re doing is for them’
Working with the teen performers made the February 14 shooting feel all the more real, Broadway performer Donna Lynne Champlin said. But in the frenzied excitement of rehearsals, it was easy to momentarily forget why they were there, the “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” actress said.
“We’re sort of looking at our younger selves and going, ‘When we were your age we were writing songs about rainy days and broken hearts, and here you are writing songs about losing numerous friends.’ I think they’re extraordinary” she said. “I can’t even imagine what their reality is like.”
The concert was the culmination of weeks of intense preparation, Stoneman Douglas junior Sawyer Garrity said before the concert. But she never forgot what brought everyone together.
“There’s been some really awesome moments because of this, but it’s hard to feel excited or happy about them because you realize what happened and why we’re getting all these opportunities,” she said.
With the help of composer Duncan Sheik, she and another student composed a song based on a poem written by shooting victim Alex Schachter. His parents asked them to write the song after their first performance at a town hall after the shooting, she said.
“This song is for him. He’s going to live on through this song and through this poem he wrote,” she said.
“In the end, everything that we’re doing is for them and everything that we’re doing is so that they’ll be remembered — all the 17, and even the ones who were injured and anyone hurt by gun violence.”
Matthew visits “My Fair Lady” on Broadway at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theatre on April 4, 2018 in New York City. (Photos by Bruce Glikas/Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)
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