It’s not just a sing and dance for Matthew Morrison
Matthew Morrison takes the role of Mr Will Shuester in Glee, the first season of which is now being released on DVD by Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.
Mr Shuester is the optimistic teacher who takes on the Herculean task of restoring McKinley High School’s Glee Club to its former glory. At first, he is daunted by the demands of knocking into shape this ragtag bunch of misfits and social outcasts. But soon he realises he has unearthed some rare talent in this show choir and delights in preparing them for the biggest competition of them all: The Nationals.
At the same time, Will splits from Terri (Jessalyn Gilsig), his hard-as-nails wife of fifteen years, and finds himself drawn towards Emma (Jayma Mays), a fellow teacher with OCD. Will is also engaged in a hugely entertaining ongoing battle with the Machiavellian cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) who uses all her very considerable wiles in an attempt to scupper the Glee Club. As you can see, Will is at the heart of the most compelling new TV comedy drama in years.
31-year-old Matthew starts by underscoring why Glee has proved such an immense hit right around the globe. “It’s got comedy, drama and music – it has something for everyone,” beams the actor, who is as infectiously likable as his alter ego. “It’s also clearly something we need. There are so many procedural dramas about doctors and lawyers out there and so many vampire shows. This offers something completely different.”
The actor has adored the experience of working on Glee. The sole slight drawback has been the fact that he is now mobbed wherever he goes. “That aspect has been hard,” admits Matthew. “My anonymity has gone. I now can’t walk five feet without stopping for a picture. But you have to embrace it.”
However, the show has also had immensely beneficial consequences for Matthew. He has recently signed a record deal. “I’m doing a lot of sessions with big producers, and the album should come out in November,” the actor enthuses. “If I end up having a pop career, I’ll have Glee to thank. Glee has afforded me the opportunity to do almost anything I want. It’s been amazing!”
Matthew, who starred in the acclaimed Broadway production of Hairspray, is very much looking forward to the second season of Glee. “I’m really excited about it,” he beams, “but I know it’s going to be hard because we’ve set the bar so high. It’s very challenging for the writers to maintain that level of creativity and specialness and come up with things we haven’t seen before.”
So where does the actor see his character going in series two? “I’d like Will to stay single,” muses Matthew, who has picked up a Satellite Award for his performance as Mr Shuester. “It’s so interesting to play a newly single person. He’s been married for fifteen years, and now he has to figure who he is without someone else. It’s fun to play with that. Also,” he adds as a jokey aside, “it means I get to kiss a lot of women!”
Matthew concludes by stressing the huge boost that Glee has given to arts education. “Everyone is now talking about ‘the Glee generation,’ and that’s brilliant. I went to a performing arts high school and it ran a great programme. Since Glee has been on, enrolment at that high school has doubled. That speaks to what’s happened on this show.
“Above all, it reminds us that the arts really matter. For someone like me who’s grown up with song and dance, it’s astonishing to be leading that change for a new generation. I find it so hopeful and inspiring.”
And so, like Glee itself, Matthew ends on a very uplifting note.
Glee Season 1: Road to Regionals, available on DVD, released 13 September 2010 from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment