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 Morrison, the Emmy, Tony and Golden Globe Award-nominated star from Fox TV’s hit television series “Glee,” will perform at Musikfest Cafe at ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks in Bethlehem, it was just announced.
Morrison will perform at 8 p.m. Sept. 7.
Tickets, at $44-$54 for Morrison, go on sale at 10 a.m. May 16 to ArtsQuest members and 10 a.m. May 19 to the public at www.steelstacks.org and 610-332-3378.
TV and stage actor Matthew Morrison will headline the September 9 benefit gala for the Westport Country Playhouse in Connecticut.
The event will raise money for the classic summer stock theatre where Stephen Sondheim once worked as a summer volunteer, which is getting set to launch its 87th season.
Morrison, who earned a Tony Award nomination for his performance in The Light in the Piazza, has also appeared in the 2008 revival of South Pacific and as Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie in the musical Finding Neverland. But he is even more widely known for his performance as Mr. Schuester, director of a high school glee club, in the FOX musical comedy series Glee, which earned him an Emmy nomination and two Golden Globe nominations,
The gala’s theme, “Moonlight Over Venice,” is a nod to the Playhouse’s planned autumn production of Romeo and Juliet. The gala will begin with a 5:45 PM cocktail party cocktail party, followed by the 7 PM presentation of the Playhouse Leadership Award to longtime trustee Ann Sheffer, and the 7:15 PM performance by Morrison. Dinner will be served at 8:30 PM. A silent auction will be ongoing throughout the evening.
The Honorary Gala Committee includes Maureen Anderman, Frank Converse, Mia Dillon, Keir Dullea, Jill Eikenberry, Daniel Gerroll, Joanna Gleason, James Earl Jones, Patricia Kalember, James Naughton, Kelli O’Hara, Christopher and Elaine Plummer, Chris Sarandon, and Michael Tucker.
Tickets, at $1,000 and $2,500, can be ordered by calling the box office at (203) 571-1138, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oozing charm, exuding confidence and with a sense of effortless style, Broadway’s song-and-dance man Matthew Morrison makes his Music City debut in a three-night stand at Schermerhorn Symphony Center, backed by the Grammy Award-winning musicians of the Nashville Symphony under the baton of conductor Steven Jarvi.
Morrison’s performance covers a number of songs made famous by him on Broadway – and in other genres by other entertainers – with each tune segueing nicely from one to another with requisite polish and the thoroughly accessible personality that allows him to gain entre into the collective audience of his attentive audience. Handsome and easy-going, Morrison’s matinee idol good looks might be disarming, but it’s his obvious talents that is sure to win over more adoring fans to his camp.
Morrison, whose laudable and noteworthy Broadway tenure includes Hairspray, The Light in the Piazza, South Pacific and, most recently, Finding Neverland draws on his wealth of stage experience to delight his Nashville audiences, while never letting them even for the briefest moment forget that he starred in TV’s Glee, the Ryan Murphy juggernaut that made high school showchoirs and mashups of popular songs part of the pop culture zeitgeist of the 21st century.
Bounding onto the stage in the best manner of nightclub performers and concert artists who’ve claimed the Great American Songbook as their inspiration, Morrison delivers a 90-minute show that’s energetic and entertaining, filled with reminiscences of his life and career and featuring some of the best-known tunes to be found in the catalog of 20th century pop, jazz and Broadway classics. Opening with “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” and closing with an extended set of songs from his first Broadway hit Hairspray (he was the show’s original Link Larkin on the Great White Way) – and with a plethora of tunes, most beloved and familiar, in between (including a swell version of Rodgers and Hart’s “The Lady is a Tramp” that I could listen to on a loop from now to doom’s day and never regret it for a second), Morrison shows off the talents that have set him apart among male performers of his generation and background.
Telling us in an interview prior to his Nashville stand, Morrison admitted he may have been born in the wrong era, so strongly does he identify with the musical standards that have drawn a wide range of song stylists to them over the years. Onstage, he approaches the material with an easy grace and effortless charm that helps these familiar tunes sound fresh, if not completely new, ushering his audience into their own reverie of memories in a way that only the best melodies can do.
Each song in Morrison’s repertoire seems personally curated to represent times in his life that resonate beautifully both for performer and audience: “Singin’ in the Rain” allows him to pay homage to his personal idol Gene Kelly; “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught” and “Some Enchanted Evening” recall his stint in the Tony Award-winning Broadway revival (but where was “Younger Than Springtime,” I wonder, particularly since his character – Lt. Joe Cable – performs it in the context of the show); and his jazz-influenced “On the Street Where You Live” harkens back to “every audition I’ve ever done since high school.”
Perhaps the most heartfelt performance comes during his rendition of “As Long As She Needs Me” from Oliver! that is beautifully expressive and sweetly evocative with being at all cloying or expected. Yet, easily, Morrison is most impressive (ensuring every eye is riveted upon him as he sings) with Adam Guettel‘s exquisite “Il Mondo Era Vuoto” from The Light in the Piazza, which the singer/actor maintains to this day — whether in his onstage patter or in a private conversation — is his most challenging role to date.
Joined onstage by a ten-member ensemble of student singers from Summit High School, Morrison pays tribute both to his time on Glee and his first record album to perform a pair of songs by Sir Elton John: a mashup of “Mona Lisa,” “Mad Hatters” and “Rocket Man” that exemplifies John’s vast catalog of songs, just as easily as it showcases Morrison’s vocal stylings.
Jarvi and the Nashville Symphony open the performance with a medley of songs from West Side Story, which sound as lush and as beautiful as ever and start the evening off with the appropriate sense of theatrical fare. But what’s with the white dinner jackets? According to my calendar, at least, Easter is still more than a week away!
“I’m singing from the standards, so there are a lot of great love songs in there,” Morrison said in recent phone interview from Los Angeles. “I’m excited to share the love.”
The song-and-dance man of Broadway, film and TV fame is performing with a jazzy five-piece band on a tour that comes to the Wheeler Opera House on Tuesday.
Morrison’s concerts offer a mix of material from his stage and screen career — from TV’s “Glee” and Broadway’s “Finding Neverland,” “Hairspray,” “South Pacific” — along with his charming spin on the classics of American song and some originals from his self-titled 2011 album.
“I always feel like I was born in the wrong era,” said Morrison, 38. “I love the standards and all they represent and the gorgeous storytelling they did back in the day.”
Morrison complements the crooning with a strong dance element in his concerts (“I’ll be strutting my stuff all over that stage”). The California native, who made his Broadway debut in “Footloose” and got his star turn as Link in “Hairspray,” has become one of the world’s leading musical theater actors, while also winning over the masses as teacher Will Schuester on the television show “Glee,” earning Emmy, Tony and Golden Globe nods along the way.
Morrison looks back on his time on “Glee” with pride.
“The further I get away from it, the more I realize how special it was,” he said. “I could have been on any show and played a cop or a lawyer or something, but this is a show that I actually played an inspirational teacher.”
The enormously popular and acclaimed “Glee” shifted the culture not only for musicals — it’s no stretch to say it helped pave the way for a pop culture landscape where “La La Land” is a frontrunner for a Best Picture Oscar and “Hamilton” is a once-in-a-generation phenomenon — but also moved the needle for gay rights and marriage equality.
“The way it spoke to the LGBT community, at a very important time in our history — I see a family sitting down and watching ‘Glee’ together and then they turn off the TV and they have a conversation about what they just saw,” Morrison reflected. “There was a lesson in every episode. For that, I’m truly grateful.”
Cutting his teeth on Broadway, where the eight-show-a-week grind tests the stamina of the most gifted of singers and actors, prepared Morrison for hitting the road as a solo act. The strength of his voice has earned him some challenging roles — playing J.M. Barrie in “Finding Neverland,” for example, he performed a dozen songs every night. So doing 15 or 16 on this national tour isn’t as daunting as it might be otherwise.
“I think Broadway is the best preparation for anyone doing anything,” he said. “All that training has built up my stamina to do something like this. … It’s what I was born to do. It’s my favorite thing to do.”
Touring with a catalog of throwback tunes scratches a creative itch that Morrison isn’t likely to lose, though he won’t resist the siren song of Hollywood.
“My love for the stage will always be there, that’s my number one place that I love to be,” Morrison said. “But at this point in my career, I feel like I want to be doing more in front of the camera. This is the heyday of television.”
From here, along with touring, Morrison hopes to continue being a part of what many have dubbed a “golden age” of television — he had a recurring role on the last season of “The Good Wife” and has more projects in the works. He’s also at work on producing and starring in an original Broadway musical and has been work-shopping Stephen Sondheim’s new “Bunuel.” On the big screen, fans can see Morrison in the costume drama “Tulip Fever,” due out next month.
Putting together a solo concert has also forced Morrison to play himself onstage — a relatively new role for the actor, and one he’s growing into.
“You can always hide behind a character,” he said. “With something like this, you have to trust yourself and know yourself and be confident. You can’t hide. That’s been therapeutic and it’s something I’ve learned to find great joy in.”
Matthew Morrison didn’t get a chance to sing and dance Thursday night as much as he might have in one of his more traditional concert programs, but audiences got to know a lot more about him during his performance with accompanist and interviewer Seth Rudetsky at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.
The show was a combination concert (with Rudetsky at the piano) and Q&A session, with Rudetsky interviewing Morrison the way he might one of his guests on his Sirius XM programs on the Broadway channel.
Between songs, Rudetsky and Morrison sat in armchairs in a faux living room setting for a bit of conversation that allowed us to see the personal side of Morrison. Under Rudetsky’s comical yet earnestly curious prodding, Morrison talked about falling in love with theater at age 10 when he was staying in Arizona with relatives who sent all the kids to a summer theater camp.
He also admitted to being in a quasi “gang” that spray-painted buildings in junior high school in Orange County. “In Orange County?” Rudetsky asked. “What did you spray paint, Disneyland?”
The questions had Morrison blushing at times, which just made him, and the program, seem more genuine, charming and gracious.
And that same sense of charm comes out in this song and dance man’s easy, almost effortless performing style. He grew up idolizing Gene Kelly, and eventually got to live out his dream by appearing or starring in seven Broadway shows and playing school choir director Will Schuester in the Fox hit “Glee.”
The musical part of his program included several songs from his studio album “Where it all Began,” in which he displayed a clear and pleasing voice on such songs as “On the Street Where You Live,” “The Lady is a Tramp” and “Younger than Springtime” from “South Pacific,” in which he starred in a Broadway revival. And his tone was pure and sweet, singing a song from his Tony-nominated role in “The Light in the Piazza.”
He moves with grace and polish and can still hit the high notes even when he’s a bit breathless.
He also talked about his skills as a breakdancer, and his days in both a fake boy band performing skits on David Letterman’s “The Late Show,” and the early days of a real one called LMNT. He hated it, he said, because “it was so fake. There was no art in it.”
His passion for live theater was always clear. Even when he was doing “Glee” and building a wide fan base around the world, Morrison longed to be back on stage. He went on a concert tour around the time of his first album just to have a live stage fix. And as soon as the show’s run ended in 2015, he went right back to Broadway to play writer J.M. Barrie in “Finding Neverland.”
Morrison closed the show with an extended medley of songs from “Hairspray,” in which he created the role of Link Larkin. The songs kept him moving and swiveling his hips with flair and getting the audience to clap along.
And Rudetsky was right there with him, as much fan as performer. He admitted to recently undergoing surgery to repair a torn tendon on one of his biceps, and said that Thursday’s show was his first time being allowed to play the piano in more than a month. You’d never have known.
Most people know Matthew Morrison as the young teacher Will “Mr. Schue” Schuester from the hit TV show “Glee.” But he’s also got a more classic set of influences.
“I’m just trying to emulate my idol, Gene Kelly,” he says. “I’m trying to bring back the modern song-and-dance man to our generation.”
Morrison, 38, is touring the country backed by a jazz band for an evening of standards and favorites, including a performance Saturday at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica. With his smooth tenor, the “versatile, hard-driving musical frontiersman,” as the New York Times pegs him, pulls from all the different work he’s done over the years.
The “retrospective show” includes an eight-minute medley of songs from the Broadway production of “Hairspray,” during which he runs through the entire story and some “Glee” moments, as well.
“Today’s music is all about coming up with a cool beat,” says Morrison, who splits his time between Los Angeles and New York. “With standards, the classic songwriters of the day would take music and lyrics and tell a story. That’s why I love these songs, because I get to put myself into different characters and really put on a show.”
As the only child of Army nurses, Morrison — who was born at Fort Ord, which closed in 1994 and reopened as Cal State Monterey Bay — discovered musical theater at age 10.
He was living in Orange County when his parents sent him to family in Arizona for the summer.
According to Morrison, “they didn’t really want to deal with me and my cousin so they threw us in a play.”
He was hooked.
After nearly a decade of children’s theater, Orange County High School of the Arts and New York University, he made his Broadway debut in “Footloose.” But his big break came when we was cast as heartthrob Link Larkin in the original Broadway production of “Hairspray.”
More recently he starred in the Broadway musical “Finding Neverland” and workshopped Stephen Sondheim’s next musical with the working title “Buñuel” after the Spanish director Luis Buñuel.
Though he’s most comfortable performing for a live audience, Morrison says he likes putting in time in front of the camera.
“These shows and concerts have really allowed me time to read a lot of scripts and go after what I want to do,” he says. “I don’t have to go and jump into a TV show that I don’t want to do because I need the money. It’s such a blessing on so many different levels.”
Look for him as a philandering drunkard in Tom Stoppard’s “Tulip Fever,” a period piece set in Amsterdam during the so-called “Tulip mania” of 1636, when the market for trading tulip bulbs soared to such large sums of money that it inevitably led to a spectacular crash of the Dutch economy.
The film’s star-studded cast includes Oscar winners Alicia Vikander, Christoph Waltz and Judi Dench. It arrives in theaters Feb. 24.