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Thursday, October 27, 2005


Richard Greenberg's A Naked Girl on the Appian Way opened at the Roundabout Theatre Company October 6 and stars Jill Clayburgh, Richard Thomas and Matthew Morrison. Of interesting note, Appian Way is the first of Greenberg's plays to hit Broadway this season. Julia Roberts will make her Broadway debut in Greenberg's Three Days of Rain at Lincoln Center Theater in March 2006.

Morrison, who is making his straight play debut as Thad Lapin in Appian Way hails from the same hometown the in "The OC" as your truly. Though I am not always a huge fan of the county in which I grew up, I still find some sort of pride when I hear someone from the 'hood is "making it" on Broadway. Greenberg's play is the 4th Broadway show for Morrison who has been seen as Fabrizio Naccarelli in The Light in the Piazza at The Lincoln Center Theatre (Tony Nomination) as well as Hairspray (as Link Larkin), Footloose and The Rocky Horror Show. A life on Broadway was a dream for Morrison who first discovered his love of musical theatre after being "thrown" into a musical theatre day camp to occupy his time while visiting family in Arizona. Morrison then went on to the prestigious Orange County High School of the Arts (which coincidentally at the time was housed on the campus of one of my rival high schools). While attending OCHSA, Morrison befriended future Broadway star, Megan McGinnis (Little Women on Broadway) who hailed from Pasadena, Calif. (not entirely important, but really just another reference to those Broadway folks who hail from SoCal).

After high school, Morrison headed for New York where he attended NYU's Tisch School of the Arts where he remained for only two years. It was then that he was cast in the touring production of Footloose (the show eventually landed him on Broadway). Soon after Footloose Morrison was cast in the forgettable film, Marci X (as a member of a boy band called Boyz R Us) which also starred noteable Broadway performers, Jane Krakowski, Christine Baranski, Charles Kimbrough, Veanne Cox and Sherie Rene Scott as well as Lisa Kudrow and Damon Wayans. With a cast like the aforementioned, one would think the film couldn't be that bad. Just look at the film's tagline and that should explain enough: Hip hop meets shop til you drop. Enough said.

Unfortunately life began to imitate art when Morrison signed on as a member of the pitiful boy-band, LMNT (otherwise known to Morrison as "lament") with the rejects from the original Making the Band -- Ikaika and Bryan Chan (who not only was a fellow Gaucho, but was a fellow member of my college's Gospel Choir). Embarrassed of his affiliation with the group, Morrison quickly dropped out prior to the group's debut album was released and found his way back to the New York stage. Not long after, Morrison found his way back to the Great White Way and after a few notable shows, he landed the role in The Light in the Piazza that would garner him a Tony Nomination. I stumbled upon the music from The Light in the Piazza on Nonesuch Records website as I was preparing a CD order from some of the shows I had just seen on a recent trip to NYC. Instantly I fell in love with the show after hearing Kelli O'Hara and Morrison's duet, Say It Somehow.

Adam Guettel's The Light in the Piazza is the first musical in a really long time that really struck a chord with me. There is something in the story and the music that is so beautiful and expressive and unlike anything I heard in quite a long time. True to my behavior, I of course became consumed by this music and interested in the people involved with the show (which is obviously how I stumbled upon the info that Morrison was from my hometown). The last show that instantly intrigued me in this way was Sondheim's Passion (a comparison critic Eric Grode also makes in his review). I guess I have an affinity for chamber musicals. I have repeatedly been playing this show on my iPod and am saddened that I won't have the opportunity to see the show with the original cast on Broadway as several of the actors have since left (including Morrison and O'Hara who announced her impending departure from the show today).

Where is this post going? I suppose since I haven't written in awhile, I have so many thoughts and keep going out on a tangent more than I should. I was prompted to write this post based on an audio slideshow feature the New York Times had yesterday narrated by Morrison discussing the difference between performing in plays and musicals. Very interesting. Though I love The Light in the Piazza, this post isn't about that, but rather how interesting it is (to me), the number of successful Broadway folks who hail from just around the corner from where I grew up.

On that note, Morrison is not the only OCHSA alumnus who found "fame" and success in New York. Other successful Broadway actors include Stephanie J. Block and Susan Egan (who also devoted a year away from her career to assume the position of interim Artistic Director at OCHSA) and John Stamos (not an OCHSA student, but attended another of my rival high schools). As for Stamos and Morrison, who knew such talent was cultivated in a little town that some think is a little island off the coast of Greece.


Mitch Glaser said...

So John Stamos is from the O.C.? Yawn...if Bob Saget came from your hometown, I'd actually be impressed!

I think you might actually be the most talented person to come out of Cypress.

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