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Matthew Morrison -- from Broadway to 'Glee'

April 9, 2010 | 11:45 am

Matthew Morrison, the centerpiece of "Glee," is more than just TV's latest heartthrob (though female audiences definitely seem to feel he has that working for him!). In a story in Sunday's Calender section you can find all about the rising 31-year-old star.

Broadway mavens have long appreciated Morrison's skill set of singing, acting and dancing (on the TV show his nickname is "Triple Threat").

With "Glee" returning to Fox on Tuesday, we thought we'd revisit some of Morrison's memorable stage turns.

Most recently Morrison performed a number from a Broadway show he wasn't in but would have been great at. During the Mel Brooks' segment during December's "Kennedy Center Honors," Morrison offered up a terrific take on the comic ode "Springtime For Hitler." In the video above, watch, especially, Morrison's extension on his side kicks when the line of dancers forms and the athleticism he shows in doing a to-the-floor split that he then bounces back up from.

Morrison's breakout role came in the 2002 mounting of "Hairspray." He assayed the Link Larkin role in the production, which won eight Tonys and ran for six years; a touring production was mounted in 2003 and Morrison reprised the role in Los Angeles in 2004 when the show came to the Pantages Theatre.

Above is an ensemble version of "You Can't Stop the Beat," during a cast appearance on "The Today Show."

Morrison earned a Tony nomination from his next big role, the 2005 production of "Light in the Piazza." He learned how to sing opera -- and speak some credible Italian -- playing the earnest romantic lead in the Craig Lucas-written musical. It was a key part for establishing Morrison's stage presence, and it was his first work with opera and theater director Bartlett Sher. This clip is a CBS story on the show. (Morrison shows up after about a minute and a half.)

Morrison worked with Sher again in the 2008 mounting of "South Pacific," the first Broadway staging of the Rogers & Hammerstein musical in over half a century. He was cast as the youthful Lt. Cable, and Sher, who won a Tony for directing the revival, said recently that the role demanded Morrison "be heroic but then convey the anti-hero pulls within the character" and challenged Morrison "in a good way, it forced him to take the trust that he conveys as an actor, and layer conflicting emotions over it." Here is Morrison showing off his fluid tenor in the ballad "Younger Than Springtime" from the recording sessions for the cast album.

-- Christopher Smith
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