Strathmore will be holding its Annual Spring Gala on Saturday, May 4, 2019, at 9 PM at The Music Center. The night will start with a dinner for Strathmore Patrons before the show. Tickets are also available for a concert that will follow. The entertainment will be two of Broadway’s brightest stars, Matthew Morrison (“Hairspray” “Finding Neverland”) and Shoshana Bean (“Wicked” “Waitress”). Joining these talented performers will be the Strathmore’s Children’s Choir and the Young Artists of America. Those attending the concert are invited to stay for an after-party in the lobby. Profits from the Gala help provide artistic programs that nurture and inspire youth, providing distinctive and impactful education opportunities for more than 30,000 students.
Information and tickets for the Gala (both as a Patron and as general admission) are available online.
I had a chance to interview one of the Broadway stars, Matthew Morrison.
Matthew Morrison is a presence on stage and screen and has been nominated for Tony, Emmy, and Golden Globe Awards. He was most recently on Broadway as J. M. Barrie in “Finding Neverland,” for which he garnered two Drama Desk Audience nominations and won Favorite Actor in a Musical from Broadway.com’s Audience Choice Awards. Morrison appeared on Fox’s “Glee,” which received the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series—Musical or Comedy in 2010 and 2011. In 2016, Morrison was a guest star on CBS’ “The Good Wife” as well as ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy.” This year, Morrison appeared as a dance captain on the Simon Cowell-produced “The Greatest Dancer.”
Morrison has released two albums: “Where It All Began” (2013) and his debut, self-titled album (2011) featuring artists like Sting, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Sir Elton John. On the big screen, he’s appeared in “What to Expect When You’re Expecting “(2012). Morrison has also hosted and narrated the PBS special Oscar Hammerstein II—”Out of My Dreams,” and he was featured in Dustin Lance Black’s “8”—a staged reenactment of the federal trial that overturned California’s Prop 8 ban on same-sex marriage. He studied musical theater, vocal performance, and dance at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, making his Broadway debut in “Footloose” (1998). However, his big break came in 2002 with the role of Link Larkin in the original Broadway cast of “Hairspray.”
This is the first time you have worked with Shoshana Bean. You are both Broadway actors. Did you know each other before this concert?
I’ve actually had the honor of working with Shoshana at previous concerts, and she is always a joy to work with. She’s a great friend and someone who I am inspired by every time I hear her sing. We’ve known each other for a while and to be able to perform this show with her is a real treat. We even have a special something in store for those in the house.
The Strathmore Children’s Choir and the Young Artists of America will be joining you in this performance. You were in the TV show “Glee” and played the glee club director. Does this bring back some memories of your role?
Having the Strathmore Children’s Choir and the Young Artists of America perform with us is something I’ve been looking forward to. There’s always a unique and great energy that performers of these ages bring to the stage, and I try to make it a point to incorporate local talent in every city I perform in. It sure does bring back memories of the Glee days, and I’m very proud of the exposure to the arts that “Glee” shined a light on.
You have done many roles on Broadway? Which is your favorite or are your favorites?
“Hairspray” Link Larkin – An originating role for me, this will always hold a special place in my heart.
“The Light in the Piazza” Fabrizio Naccarelli – having to perform that show half in Italian and half in broken English was an amazing challenge. It pushed me like nothing else before, and it was the most rewarding role as far as pushing personal limits on myself.
“Finding Neverland” J.M. Barrie – My most recent return to the Broadway stage. The Lunt-Fontane theater has some magic in it that can’t be explained.
Do you prefer working on stage in roles or in concert? Television, movies or theatre?
An interaction with a live audience will always be my preferred method of performing. I feed off of the energy from the stage, and for that, my on-stage work and concerts always bring that unique and special feeling of spontaneity. For that one moment in time, the audience and I share in a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s very special to me. On the other hand, television has exposed me to such a wider global audience, and if it wasn’t for that vehicle, I would not have the opportunity to travel the world performing for people from all backgrounds.
What songs will you be performing at Strathmore? Duets with Ms. Bean?
I don’t want to give away any surprises, but there will be something special that Shoshana and I perform together. I’ll bring the audience on a career retrospective, performing numbers from certain productions I’ve been involved with over the years, as well as some tunes that have had huge influences on me. It will be a nice mixture of repertoire from the American songbook and Broadway. I do an 8-minute medley of “Hairspray” for those that don’t yet know the story. The choir will be joining on a special medley of music from “Finding Neverland” – a real treat!