Matthew Morrison, star of “Glee,” onstage and in the studio


Matthew Morrison, star of glee and headliner at the 2013 WPAS Spring Gala. (Brian Bowen-Smith)
April 5, 2013

Matthew Morrison, the man who’s been inspiring musically inclined outcasts with his catchphrases andwhiteboard since 2009, will be performing at the Washington Performing Arts Society Annual Gala and Auction. Mr. Schue’s also got a new album, “Where It All Began,” coming out June 4; he’s the first artist on Adam Levine’s new label, 222 Records. If you are wondering why Levine’s name sounds familiar, you likely know him because (a) he’s the lead singer of Maroon 5, (b) he’s one of the judges on “The Voice” or (c) you are blonde and tall which means, statistically speaking, you’ve probably dated him already.

Levine selected Morrison by blind audition and as a prize for having powerhouse pipes, Morrison got to keep one of those big spinning chairs. “Where It All Began” is a spoken-word poetry exploration of the history of the high school glee club, beginning with the catch and glee clubs of the Metropolis founded in the late 1780s. Kidding! It is actually Matthew Morrison singing covers of his favorite Broadway standards. By phone from Los Angeles, Morrison talked about his gig on “Glee,” his Broadway past, and how this whole singing-’n’-dancing thing he’s doing now was actually a total accident.

FYI, he is going to be stripping at the WPAS gala: “It’ll basically be a stripped down version of what’s on the album. On the album, it’s with a full orchestra. I’m singing some great Broadway standards that I kind of grew up singing. This is the kind of music that I love.”

Retro romantic: “I released my [self-titled] first album last year, and it had a pop sensibility to it, but this album is the album I wanted to make before even that one. I’ve always loved these songs – that’s the world that I came from, the Broadway world. . . . My favorite song to sing is probably ‘On the Street Where You Live,’ from ‘My Fair Lady.’ And my favorite song to perform is a ‘West Side Story’ medley; it’s a mash-up of six ‘West Side Story’ songs. I really love to sing, dance, perform. . . . I wanted a Gene Kelly flair to what I’m trying to do.”


Matthew Morrison’s second album, “Where It All Began.” (Brian Bowen-Smith)

Family matters: “It was really by a fluke [that I started performing]. I spent the summer in fifth grade with my grandmother in Arizona . . . and they put me and my cousin into a children’s theater program. And I just fell in love with it . . . [Then] I went to a performing arts high school, but that was the second part of my day. So I went to a regular high school with cheerleaders and a football team, an absolutely normal high school from 8 until 1:30, and then I was on the other campus from 2 to 6.”

On going pro: “I think it was when I was in high school, when I was trying to decide what college I was going to go to. Because I had several opportunities – I was a big soccer player – to play soccer for different colleges. But my Mr. Schue, a mentor, he actually steered me in this direction. He said, ‘I’ve seen a lot of people go through this school, and you have something very special.’ ”

Thank freaking goodness, because. . . : “I’m 34 years old now, so my soccer career would be over.”

Teenage dream:“I got my first Broadway show when I was 19. I was the white break-dancer in ‘Footloose.’ . . . I’m so happy how it happened and when it happened. I don’t know if I would have been able to deal with this kind of success that ‘Glee’ was for all of us at too young an age.”

Not so great expectations: “My expectations [for ‘Glee’], as well as everyone’s, were not that high going into shooting the pilot. It was a great script, but I had done about six pilots and none of them ever went anywhere. On set . . . there was just something in the air. We all knew we were a part of something special. I never knew it would be the kind of worldwide phenomenon that it turned into. It was pretty overwhelming when all of that started happening. We shot the first 12 episodes in our little bubble before anyone had even seen the show. Things changed a lot after that.”

The biggest break: “I think for me the moment that we were all sitting on Oprah doing an hour “Glee” special, that was the moment when I was like, ‘What the heck is going on?’ ”

Feeling a little rusty: “I don’t have any musical numbers [on ‘Glee’] nowadays, so I probably sing maybe twice a month. Which isn’t much at all! I’m used to singing eight shows a week on Broadway.”

Off-camera clique-ing: “I think a lot of them [the actors who play students] still think of me as their teacher, as a mentor to them, because that is the parameters of how we started the show. So I think there’s always going to be that distinction between us. I do tend to hang out with the people who play adults on the show. Jane Lynch is probably my best friend on the show, and Jayma Mays. It is funny how that divide carries over off-set. Jane plays a complete witch of a crazy woman, [but] she is probably the sweetest woman you’ll ever meet.”

WPAS Annual Gala and Auction

April 13 at the Ritz-Carlton, 1150 22nd St. NW, www.wpas.org, 202-785-9727.

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