Matthew Morrison: Song and Dance Man
POSTED ON Jan 05, 2018 BY Valentina INGallery,Interview

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 X Magazine

Pictures by Nathan Johnson

All HQ pictures from the photoshoot can be found in the gallery.

Annie Leibovitz for Vogue 2015
HQ image here
After a rocky launch abroad, Harvey Weinstein’s Peter Pan creation tale Finding Neverland—starring Matthew Morrison and Laura Michelle Kelly—sets sail for Broadway.

If you had followed Matthew Morrison’s career on the musical stage, you would have seen him grow from a lanky, loose-limbed teenager (Footloose, Hairspray) to an effortlessly masculine, Tony-nominated leading man (The Light in the Piazza, South Pacific) with the looks, charisma, and triple-threat chops to become that rare bird—a bona fide Broadway star. But then along came a TV show about a high-drama, high-decibel high school glee club, and when Morrison was cast as the school’s hunky Spanish teacher with an unexpected gift for staging high-octane production numbers, it kept him in Los Angeles for the next six years. Now, withGlee’s final season in the can, Morrison is returning to the New York stage as the star of Finding Neverland, a new Harvey Weinstein–produced musical based on the Harvey Weinstein–produced film of the same name. “I’m at a turning point in my life,” Morrison says. “I’m coming off a hugely successful television show, I’m newly married”—to the actress Renee Puente—“and I’m coming back to New York with a lot to prove. I’ve never been the outright lead of a show before, so it’s mine to carry, and—I’m not going to lie—I’m nervous about it.”

It’s a perfect place to be to portray an unsure-of-himself playwright who finds a new lease on life as both an artist and a man. That playwright, of course, is J. M. Barrie (played in the film by Johnny Depp), a sort of Edwardian Neil Simon trapped in a loveless marriage and stuck in a career rut (Kelsey Grammer plays his increasingly exasperated producer and, in several fantasy sequences, his subconscious shadow, Captain Hook) who, through the chaste love of a young widow (Laura Michelle Kelly) and the friendship of her four sons, to whom he becomes a surrogate father, overcomes self-doubt, writer’s block, and a series of demons both real and imagined to create the immortal Peter Pan.

The production features a script by the rising young English playwright James Graham (his 2012 drama This House, about backroom doings in the House of Commons during the tumultuous 1970s, was a hit at the National Theatre), an infectious pop score byX Factor judge and Take That frontman Gary Barlow and producer-songwriter Eliot Kennedy, and hallucinatory sets by Scott Pask (It’s Only a Play). Diane Paulus, whose recent circus-themed revival of Pippin showed her gift for exploring the intersection of showbiz razzle-dazzle and psychological realism, directs. “It’s a love letter to the theater that depicts the ups and downs—and all the hair that gets pulled out—in the creation of something remarkable,” Paulus says. “When J. M. Barrie wrote Peter Pan, it was avant-garde; Finding Neverland asks, ‘How far do you have to go—and how much faith do you have to rely on—to support something risky and different?’ ”

The answer, based on the show’s history: a lot. If it’s about the power of imagination and belief, no one has shown more of both—along with steamroller-like tenacity—than its producer, without whom Finding Neverland would never have found its way to Broadway. Weinstein commissioned a blue-chip creative team—Allan Knee, who wrote the play that the movie was based on; the songwriting team of Scott Frankel and Michael Korie (Grey Gardens); and the director/choreographer Rob Ashford (How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying)—for what became a 2012 production at the Curve Theatre in Leicester, England, with Julian Ovenden as Barrie. Despite the show’s inventive stagecraft and soaring music, Weinstein scrapped it from top to bottom and brought in a new creative team when critics found it simply too earthbound. This updated version, starring Jeremy Jordan (Smash) as Barrie, played to mixed reviews (and record-breaking audiences) at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts, last summer. Its current Broadway incarnation, meanwhile, features a new opening number, new songs, a revamped script, more lavish sets, and, in Morrison, a new leading man. Paulus’s description of steering the ship toward New York captures the central theme of both Peter Pan andFinding Neverland: “You start from this infinite sense of time and dreams,” she says, “and then pretty quickly the clock starts ticking, and every step of the journey you’re battling time.”

Morrison is looking forward not just to letting his song-and-dance flag fly but to delving into the character of Barrie, a complex man who first came up with the idea of Neverland at age six after the death of his beloved older brother. “That was when he lost his boyhood—he had to grow up at that moment—and it’s so inspiring to see him, as an adult, discovering the spark of creation and imagination and play that he never got to experience growing up,” Morrison says. “It’s funny—he writes a play about a boy who won’t grow up, and grows up himself in the process.”

As he gets set to return to Broadway, Morrison is reconnecting with his own inner child—one who fell in love with singing and dancing onstage at age ten when he starred in a show at summer camp. Of course, after six seasons in the groves of television, getting his voice in shape for eight shows a week requires more than just make-believe, and so he’s spent the past year taking singing lessons, doing daily vocal exercises, and giving a series of concerts around the country with various symphony orchestras—most recently at Carnegie Hall with his Light in the Piazza and South Pacific costar Kelli O’Hara. And while Broadway may not be Neverland and the stage may only give the illusion of stopping time, as Morrison says, “It’s the place where I feel most at home, and I don’t think I realized that until I went off and did a TV show. The chance to deepen your performance night after night, and the connection that you can make with a live audience—I’ve missed it so much, and I can’t wait to get that rush again. Honestly, I find no greater joy in my life.”

Gallery Update: new photoshoot outtakes!
POSTED ON May 17, 2014 BY Valentina INGallery

Newly released outtakes from the Tony Duran photoshoot from 2010.Photoshoots –> Tony Duran – Outtakes (2010)More

Gallery Update: new photoshoot picture!
POSTED ON Jan 15, 2014 BY Valentina INGallery

Newly released photoshoot picture by photographer Brian Bowen Smith, for “Where It All Began”.Gallery –> Photoshoots –> Brian Bowen Smith for Where It All Began (March 2013)click on the picture to view the HQ

Newly released interview on Movement Man Malaysia. Click on the pictures to read the HQ scans.Gallery –> Magazine Scans –> Movement Man Malaysia (August 2013)New photoshoot from the article:Gallery –> Photoshoots –> Christian Rios for Movement Magazine Malaysia (August 2013)

Photography by Christian Rios

Styling by Amy Mach

Thanks to Melvin Chan of August Man Malaysia

Current Projects

American Horror Story: 1984
Release Date: September 18, 2019
Network: FX

The Greatest Dancer
Release Date: 2020
Network: BBC One

Matthew on Twitter

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