Ditching the Sweater Vest and Dancing on Tables, Matthew Morrison Readies to Get Up Close and Personal at 54 Below

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31 May 2013

Matthew Morrison
Matthew Morrison
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Diners at 54 Below, beware. Mr. Schuester is leaving his sweater vest at home. Guests at the nightclub might find Matthew Morrison breaking into song and dance closer to them than they expected.

The Broadway leading man, who is currently starring on the hit TV show "Glee," will take the stage at 54 Below for a solo concert titled Up Close and Personal June 1-4. The concert will include songs from Morrison's upcoming album "Where It All Began," which will be released June 4. And, while the evening features songs performed by the Tony and Drama Desk-nominated actor, it just might feature dance as well.

Morrison, who made his Broadway debut in Footloose, has performed in Hairspray, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Light in the Piazza, A Naked Girl on the Appian Way and South Pacific. In 2009 he was cast as optimistic show choir teacher Will Schuester on Ryan Murphy's TV show "Glee," which has earned him Screen Actors Guild, Golden Globe and Emmy Award nominations.

The show, which was just extended for two more seasons, has brought Morrison international fame, a new aspect of his life he takes seriously.

"Before 'Glee,' I felt like a lot of people in New York knew who I was, but I could kind of go wherever I wanted and no one knew who this guy was," he said. "Now things have changed a little bit, and with this change comes good responsibility, too."

Part of that responsibility in Morrison's eyes is exposing new generations to the kind of music they might not be exposed to otherwise. Morrison, currently on break from filming "Glee," is taking the stage in numerous cities to return to where he says his heart is — live performing.

"I can't wait," Morrison said about his concert. "This is something I've been looking forward to doing for a while, and the kind of music I've been singing all my life, with a nice quintet in a really cool space."

While Morrison has an idea of the songs his show will feature, he said, "I really want to keep it old school, like they did back in the day, where I don't know what song is next. Wherever the mood takes us, we'll play off the audience and see whatever song we want to play."

One performer from that old-school era Morrison admires is Gene Kelly, whom he credits with inspiring him to learn dance.

"I was so blown away by what this man did, and how he did it," Morrison said. "He made dance cool for me. He made it masculine and made me want to dance."

Some of the tracks on "Where It All Began" are well-known classics like "Singin' in the Rain" and "Luck Be a Lady" that Morrison hopes he can add his own feel to, despite the famous renditions performed by previous singers.

"Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. — they're so incredible," he said. "These are such classic songs and they were sung by the most classic vocalists of their times. I'm trying to put my own tapestry over these classic songs."

This tapestry includes a more uplifting spirit and more movement integrated into the songs, some of which are typically sung as ballads. By adding his own touch, Morrison hopes he will introduce a new generation of people to the kind of music he is performing.


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