For most television viewers, Matthew Morrison will always be the earnest, but wrongheaded teacher in Ryan Murphy’s colorful television series “Glee.” For anyone with a background in Broadway and musical theater however, Morrison was the dashing leading man from stage hits such as “The Light in the Piazza,” “Hairspray,” “South Pacific” and, most recently, “Finding Neverland.” That dancing and singing guy is the Morrison Sirius-XM radio host Seth Rudetsky will bring to the Kimmel Center for the next show of his “Broadway Up Close” series on December 17. In improvisational talk show fashion, Rudetsky will fire off questions then play piano beside Morrison without much warning as to what will come next.
“Glee”had such an enormous, ingratiating presence for so long that your character has to now be both a blessing and a curse. Do people expect you to be this always cheerful, empathetic person?
His intentions were good, and it’s fortunate that as happy-go-lucky a character as he was, I too am an upbeat guy. It only backfires when I’m not in a good mood, or want alone time, and someone asks for those selfies with you. That said, it was nice to be on a show that was so special, that had a voice, that said something such as “Glee” did. As an actor, I’ve been on lawyer shows and cop shows and those are great, and I am glad to do them, but “Glee” had messages, and we changed a lot of lives. That is not lost on me, and I will always cherish my time on that show.
Are you friends with Seth? What did he promise you about coming down to Philly?
We are great friends, and he is a shining light when it comes to all that goes on within the Broadway community. He is our mouthpiece. His shows are unlike any shows you can take on – anything can happen. Me, I like to come in and be very prepared when I do my concerts. Know exactly what I’m going to do. With Seth, it is a free-for-all. First, we’ll sit and do an interview, then hit the piano and sing, then back again; never knowing what to expect from him. You get an honest, raw performance when you don’t know for sure what will come next.
Having witnessed you in concert, you’re usually chewing up the scenery and singing and acting in character? Since you won’t know what lies ahead, will you still play a role?
I like losing that control and I do relish my characterization, and will do my best to get those in. Since he is interviewing me though, I’ll have a chance – I hope – to reveal more personal sides of me — my deepest darkest stories. Then again, I’m not sure what he is going to ask so it could be anything. I have been so fortunate to have such a multi-faceted career, that we could go anywhere. It should allow me to have perspective. Then again, I’m not showy or braggart-y so this is a great opportunity.
OK, I was young and I needed the money.
No, really, what was your first favorite song to sing, the one where you totally connected with the lyric and the melody?
I think it would have to be “On the Street Where You Live” from “My Fair Lady.” It was one of the first musical theater songs that I had to do in junior high. I just immediately felt this connection to it, being this young man, a hopeless romantic, just looking up at the window of this girl he’s crushing on, wanting to be close to this woman. It still has resonance today, even as I’m married – that urgency of lust and passion for the woman you love. It takes me back and brings me forward. Now, that’s a good song.
Sat. Dec 17, 8 p.m., Perelman Theater at the Kimmel Center, 300 S Broad St. kimmelcenter.org