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Glee and Finding Neverland Star Matthew Morrison Comes Home for the Holidays

Morrison and his frequent scene partner Kelli O'Hara will perform a Christmas concert with the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall.

Matthew Morrison has a busy year coming up. As soon as he finishes shooting the final season of the Fox network series Glee (which he estimates will be in February), he jumps right into rehearsals for the new Broadway musical Finding Neverland, in which he plays the estimable Peter Pan creator, J.M. Barrie.

But first comes Christmas. Morrison makes a quick trip to New York on December 19 and 20 to perform in Kelli and Matthew: Home for the Holidays, with his frequent Broadway costar Kelli O'Hara, conductor Steven Reineke and the New York Pops, and the 300-strong Essential Voices USA choir at Carnegie Hall. Morrison recently chatted with TheaterMania about this "mind-blowing" experience.

Matthew Morrison performs with the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall on December 19 and 20.
(© David Gordon)

You and Kelli have a long history together, in Light in the Piazza and South Pacific. What was the impetus for this concert?
We've been talking about doing a show together in some format somewhere...We were really just excited to get onstage together again. [Kelli]'s done Carnegie Hall before, but I've never done it in my own kind of concert, so this is going to be a new experience for me and something on my bucket list I can cross off. It's mind-blowing. I've always wanted to play there.

How do you choose a set list for a holiday concert? What songs are you planning to perform?
They had suggestions of classic songs...and we sat down and hashed it all out. Kelli and I will do a couple selections that we've really wanted to do, like "Tonight" from West Side Story and "Baby, It's Cold Outside." I plan on bringing out my ukulele and playing with the orchestra for a Hawaiian Christmas Song. The great thing about this concert is that there's going to be a three-hundred-person choir, which is exciting for both of us.

What is your favorite holiday song?
My favorite song, I think, is "O Holy Night." The New York Pops has this arrangement with a female lead so I [said to Kelli], "You sing it, I'm gonna sit in the audience for this one."

Do you and your wife, Renee, have any special Christmas traditions?
Honestly, until we have kids, Christmas Day for us has been about flying. It's the best day in the world that you can get on an airplane, because the airport is completely empty. It's such a great day to fly. For the past few years, we've been flying somewhere on Christmas Day, so that's what we'll do. When kids come along, there will be a whole different set of traditions.

Switching gears, have you thought about what you'll miss most about the whole Glee experience now that the show is ending its run?
I think I'm going to miss the people. The cast has been amazing. We've gone through a lot together. [I'll] especially [miss] the crew. They're the ones who are there from start to finish every single day. You get close to those people. We'll never all be in the same room, probably ever again, after this. It's a little sad. I won't miss the hours. I'm excited to go back to Broadway next year because I'll have a set schedule and be able to plan a lunch or dinner. Well, probably not dinner. [laughs]

Speaking of which, have you started preparing yet for Finding Neverland?
I'm jumpstarting all the research I want to do for this part. All my free time is just reading [J.M. Barrie's] plays and learning about him. He had a very eclectic career. We've made a lot of fixes in the script and some songs [since the American Repertory Theatre run]. The Broadway show is going to be a lot tighter and with a little better storytelling.

Kelli O'Hara and Matthew Morrison in the original Broadway production of The Light in the Piazza.
(© Joan Marcus)
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