NEW YORK—Matthew Morrison says he’s looking forward to trading in his choir director role on “Glee” for a return to Broadway and letting fans see him “in a different light.”
“Playing Will Schuester for six seasons has been amazing but, honestly, there comes a point where you’re struggling to find something new,” says Morrison. “I’m excited to not have any more handcuffs, so to speak, and to go back to where my roots are.”
Morrison, who has played Schuester for six seasons, had previously starred on Broadway in “Hairspray,” “South Pacific” and “The Light in the Piazza,” for which he was nominated for a 2005 Tony Award.
This week, he was announced as the star of the Broadway production of “Finding Neverland,” a musical directed by Diane Paulus that explores the Peter Pan book’s back story. Previews begin in March.
Morrison will play J.M. Barrie, the “Peter Pan” author. The musical is adapted from the 2004 whimsical film of the same name about a widow whose four young sons inspired Barrie to write the children’s classic.
“This character is so different—like night and day—from Will Schuester. So I can’t wait for people to see me in a different light,” says Morrison. “They’ll go maybe expecting to see Matt Morrison from ‘Glee’ and walk out with a new respect or appreciation for what I can bring to the table.”
Morrison, who got married this summer to model Renee Puente, has been hoping for a return to the stage for many years. “Glee,” which has its final season air next year, films for 10 months of the year, leaving not enough time to really slip into a theatre role. The actor has put out two albums and said he toured “to fill the void.”
“Broadway is my home and I’m just excited to go home,” he says. “There’s something so exciting about originating a role in a new musical. No one can really take it away from you. You’re the one. I can’t wait to do all the things that go along with that—the original Broadway cast recording and showing off our show at the Tony Awards.”
In some ways, Morrison might be reaping what he’s sown: The popularity of “Glee” has been a boost for musical theatre and Broadway. Morrison says he’s seen glee clubs pop up even across Europe and hopes the TV show’s fans will show up at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.
“It’s just exciting to see how music is accepted and it’s OK to be different and especially all the other themes that we’ve hit upon on ‘Glee’—bullying, being gay in high school, teenage pregnancy. I think there were a lot of great issues that were talked about on that show that a lot people ran away from. We really hit them straight on.”