Matthew Morrison | Where It All Began (222)

Matthew-Morrison 75Every song on this album is very well known already, but Morrison works to give each his individual stamp.

One reason I keep watching Glee, despite all the ridiculous narrative turns and well-aged “high school students,” is because it reliability brings first-class Broadway talent into my living room. There’s Lea Michele, of course, who’s been performing on Broadway since she was nine and originated Wendla in Spring Awakenings. Darren Criss and Jane Lynch have both recently appeared on Broadway as J. Pierrepont Finch (How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying) and Miss Hannigan (Annie), respectively. And don’t get me started on the guest stars, which include Kristin Chenoweth, Jonathan Groff, and Idina Menzel.

One talented performer who sometimes gets overlooked is Matthew Morrison, aka Mr. Schuester. His role as the Glee Club director mainly involves helping his students find their place in the spotlight, thus you don’t get to hear him perform very often. But Morrison has some impressive Broadway credentials of his own, including Link Larkin in the original production of Hairspray and Fabrizio in the original production of The Light in the Piazza (the latter earning him a Tony nomination). Although I found Morrison’s first, self-titled solo CD somewhat disappointing, his second effort, on the new 222 Records label, is much more enjoyable.

 

Morrison’s love of musical theatre is evident throughout Where It All Began—the tracks form a sort of “greatest hits” compilation of Broadway classics and entries in the Great American Songbook, including “Luck Be A Lady,” “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “Send in the Clowns,” “Basin Street Blues,” and “The Lady is a Tramp.”

 

Every song on this album is very well known already, but Morrison works to give each his individual stamp. This works particularly well on the most unusual selection on the album, “Ease on Down the Road” from The Wiz. Backed by Smokey Robinson and a funky band, it gives Morrison a chance to show a whole new aspect of his talent, as does an up-tempo, jazzy take on “On the Street Where You Live.” He shines on slow ballads like “Younger Than Springtime,” of course, and displays a light, almost nonchalant touch on “Singin’ in the Rain.”

 

Morrison’s treatment of each song is at least interesting, if not always completely satisfying—he’s working a little too hard, for my taste, on “Luck Be a Lady” and “Hey There,” but such judgments are highly subjective, and for someone else, those might be their favorite tracks on the album. Bottom line: if you want to hear what a very talented performer can do with some of the most iconic Broadway songs of all time, this album is worth checking out. B | Sarah Boslaugh

RIYL: Michael & George; The Power of Two

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply