Matthew Morrison isn’t sure exactly what’s going to happen when he appears at the Art House in Provincetown Sunday. But with Sirius radio host Seth Rudetsky as interviewer and pianist, he’s sure it will be a lot of fun.
“I’ve known Seth for a while,” Morrison says by phone from his home in New York. “His knowledge of the musical-theater canon is amazing, and I have a large repertoire of music, so I’m guessing it will be a retrospective of my career from the beginning until now.”
Morrison is best known for his long-running role as Will Schuester, the director of the glee club, in the Fox series “Glee.”
After leaving New York University, where he studied musical theater, vocal performance, and dance, Morrison has hardly ever stopped working, starting in the ensembles of “Footloose” and “The Rocky Horror Show” before getting his big Broadway break in “Hairspray.” He later appeared in “The Light in the Piazza,” for which he earned a Tony nomination as a featured actor, and “South Pacific.” When “Glee” completed its sixth and final season in 2015, he went back to Broadway to play J.M. Barrie in “Finding Neverland,” a production helmed by American Repertory Theater artistic director Diane Paulus.
“I’ve been lucky,” Morrison says. “I was cast in the ensemble for ‘Hairspray,’ but when the actor originally cast as Link Larkin got a film and left the show, I got the part. That led to ‘Glee.’ ”
The impact of “Glee,” he says, has given him a lot of options, but more importantly, the show helped generate a renewed interest in musical theater.
“I often say I feel like I was born in the wrong era, because I consider myself a song-and-dance man,” Morrison says. “My role model was Gene Kelly. I was a huge soccer player growing up, so I loved Gene Kelly’s athleticism as a dancer. But I think ‘Glee’ ’s celebration of song and dance is helping fuel a resurgence of musical theater.”
The success of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton” may have given it even more momentum — not that Morrison saw that phenomenon coming.
“I missed the boat on ‘Hamilton,’ ” he says with a laugh. “Lin-Manuel came to my trailer when we were filming ‘Glee.’ He had only written the first song, and he played it for me, but I couldn’t see how he could make a show out of the history story.”
It was too early in the development of “Hamilton” for casting decisions, and Morrison was committed to “Glee,” and he says the success of that show has given him the luxury “to take the time to think about what I want to do next.”
“I’ve been performing on the weekends in various cities, and spending the middle of the week at home reading scripts.”
Morrison says he tailors each performance to the audience of the city he’s in, sometimes performing with an orchestra, sometimes just a small band.
“In Provincetown, Seth will interview me and then I’ll perform some songs,” says Morrison. “I know he loves ‘Hairspray’ so I’m sure I’ll do a number from that, but then who knows? I’m very proud of my album of Broadway standards, so I hope to do some songs from that, too.”
Morrison’s lush album, 2013’s “Where It All Began,” was one of the last recordings produced by the legendary Phil Ramone, who had worked with Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, Paul Simon, and Billy Joel, among many others.
“I was shocked when he agreed to produce it,” says Morrison. “He was nearly 80 but was so vital and young with his ideas and approach, he made me feel empowered to do my best.”
Although he typically likes to prepare for every performance, Morrison says he’s looking forward to the off-the-cuff conversation with Rudetsky, who may be famous for his hilarious obsessions with musical theater performers and performances, but who is also a gifted interviewer, as well as a composer, musician, and performer himself.
“I’m excited about the spontaneity,” Morrison says. “Not knowing what to expect will keep me on my toes.”
With Seth Rudetsky. Presented by Broadway @ Town Hall. At the Art House, Provincetown, Aug. 7. Tickets (proceeds benefit the Tyler Clementi Foundation): $50-$200, 508-487-9222, www.ptownarthouse.com
Terry Byrne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.