It can safely be said that Robert Morse, now 83, is more famous today than at any time since 1961, when he took the entertainment world by storm with his classic performance as cheerful corporate ladder-climber J. Pierrepont Finch in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
His fattened profile is completely owing to his seven-seasons run as ruthless, Ayn Rand-reading, Madison Avenue sage Bertram Cooper in the AMC series “Mad Men.” (Morse’s work in the film version of How to Succeed, as well as the film “A Guide for the Married Man,” were early inspirations of “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner.)
Earlier this year, the character of Cooper died. Weiner, however, gave the character a fitting send-off, with Morse returning as an apparition to sing and dance his way through “The Best Things in Life Are Free.”
That number reminded the world that Morse was Finch before he was Cooper, and a stage actor before he became a TV star. Morse is currently reminding the public yet again of his potential for fancy footwork, as a member of the cast of Christopher Gattelli’s dance ensemble piece In Your Arms, currently playing at Vassar’s Powerhouse Theater through July 13. Playbill.com spoke to Morse about his return to the boards.
How did you come to be involved in In Your Arms?
Robert Morse: I was in Los Angeles finishing the final season of “Mad Men” and I got a call from Christopher Gattelli, the choreographer of Newsies, and he told me about how he was doing this thing called In Your Arms at the Powerhouse Theatre on the Main Stage at Vassar. I said, “You know, I was there 25 years ago. That’s where Tru started.”
He explained to me, “We have all these vignettes written by Douglas Carter Beane, Christopher Durang, Carrie Fisher, Terrence McNally, Marsha Norman, Lynn Nottage and Alfred Uhry. And we have 20 performers, plus you, to perform these with dance.” They’re portraits of the lovers, told in music and dance. I said, “That sounds like something I’d really love to be part of.”
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