'Glee' star Matthew Morrison will lead gala for his alma mater, Orange County High School of the Arts
If its annual gala hits its mark on March 19, the Orange County High School of the Arts figures to have close to a million reasons to be gleeful -- and grateful to its most famous graduate, Matthew Morrison, who anchors the Fox TV series “Glee” as high school glee club director Will Schuster.
Morrison, a 1997 graduate, is chairing the event at the Hyatt Regency in Irvine, which the school hopes will raise $800,000, nearly a fifth of the $5 million in annual donations it needs to augment the $9 million in state funding it gets as a public charter school. A school spokeswoman said details were still being worked out regarding Morrison's on-stage role at the gala. The black-tie evening's theme is “A Swingin’ Singin’ Salute to the Stars of the USO!” featuring more than 100 of the high school’s hoofers, belters and instrumentalists doing their best in the old entertain-the-troops tradition of Bob Hope.
In a further assist to his alma mater, Morrison has arranged to host a day on the set of “Glee” for two –- the prize of a benefit raffle, with the winning ticket to be drawn at the gala. Raffle tickets will go for $10 each.
Morrison isn’t the only successful OCHSA alum who’s doing a bit for the school, which opened in 1987 as an adjunct of Los Alamitos High School, then moved to its own campus in Santa Ana in 2000.
On Friday, the school launched a Broadway Cabaret series with Lindsay Mendez, who has performed on Broadway in “Grease” and “Everyday Rapture” since graduating in 2001; she debuted a duet routine for the concert circuit with her “Everyday Rapture” cast-mate, Betsy Wolfe.
Susan Egan (pictured with OCHSA students in 2002), a member of the high school's first graduating class in 1988, and later the originator of Belle, the lead role in Broadway’s “Beauty and the Beast,” continues the series on March 26. David Burnham sings April 16. The shows are in the 500-seat Center for the Arts, which was known as the OC Pavilion before the arts high school acquired it last year for a reported $13 million.
-- Mike Boehm
Photos: Matthew Morrison; Susan Egan auditions students for a performing group at OC High School of the Arts in 2002. Credits: Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times (Morrison); Glenn Koenig/Los Angeles Times (Egan).