Matthew James Morrison (born October 30, 1978) is an American actor, dancer, and singer-songwriter. Morrison is known for starring in multiple Broadway and Off-Broadway productions, including his portrayal of Link Larkin in Hairspray on Broadway, and for his role as Will Schuester on the Fox television show Glee (2009–2015). Morrison is signed with Adam Levine's 222 Records. Morrison received a Tony Award nomination for his featured role as Fabrizio Nacarelli in the musical The Light in the Piazza. From March 2015 to January 2016, Morrison starred in the lead role of J.M. Barrie in the Broadway production of Finding Neverland.
Morrison was born in Fort Ord, California, to Mary and Tom Morrison. Morrison was raised in Chico, California, and is of Scottish heritage. He was part of the Collaborative Arts Project 21 (CAP21) and the Orange County High School of the Arts, while at the Los Alamitos High School campus. While in high school, Morrison did a musical with actress Jodie Sweetin. He attended New York University's Tisch School of the Arts for two years before dropping out and joining the Broadway adaptation of Footloose.
By freshman year of college, Morrison already was a regular performer on Broadway. He said in Details, "There were all these beautiful, beautiful dancers. As a straight guy I had some room. There were the shared interests in singing and dancing, and I always find dancing with someone very erotic and sexual. I definitely hooked up with a lot of girls when I was a young guy on Broadway."
Morrison's career began when he made his musical theatre debut on Broadway in the musical version of Footloose, followed by a revival of The Rocky Horror Show in 2002. Morrison's big break came, however, when Morrison landed the role of Link Larkin in the Broadway production of John Waters', Hairspray. After performing in the role for some time, Morrison started working in television, guest-starring on shows such as Ghost Whisperer, Numb3rs, CSI: Miami and Hack. Morrison also had small roles in films such as Marci X, Primary Colors, Music and Lyrics, and Simply Funk. Morrison followed up these performances by performing the role of Sir Harry in the ABC-TV production of Once Upon a Mattress, starring Tracey Ullman, Zooey Deschanel and Carol Burnett.
In 2001, Morrison was recruited to complete the quartet for the band LMNT. Morrison was replaced instead by Jonas Persch by the time its first album was released. Morrison commented in an interview about his experience in the boy band by remarking, "It was the worst year of my life. You know when you're a performer and you're out there on stage and you're embarrassed that you're doing something wrong. It was pretty bad." Matthew Morrison also was a member of Buena Park Youth theater, located at Buena Park
Morrison starred in the Original Cast of the musical Hairspray as Link Larkin from its opening in 2002 through January 2004. In 2005 Morrison changed gears, playing the role of Fabrizio Nacarelli in Adam Guettel's The Light in the Piazza. Morrison was nominated for a Tony Award for his performance. He left the show August 28, 2005.
Morrison joined the cast of the CBS soap opera, As the World Turns, as Adam Munson on October 24, 2006, but left abruptly soon after due to a "scheduling conflict," last airing on the soap on November 27. Morrison appeared in a benefit performance celebrating Andrew Lippa, and the 25th Anniversary of the performing troupe 'The Kids in the Hall' at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa, California in December 2006. The performance benefited The California Conservatory of the Arts, a non-profit arts education organization focusing on pre-professional training for young students, grades six through twelve, in Orange County, California.
He earned a Drama Desk Nomination for his role in the Off Broadway show 10 Million Miles which ran at the Atlantic Theater Company in 2007. That same year he appeared in two films: Dan in Real Life, followed by Music and Lyrics as Cora Corman's manager. In 2008, he played Lieutenant Cable in a Lincoln Center production of the musical South Pacific. He left the production at the end of 2008 and in early 2009 returned to California to shoot the first season of Glee.
Morrison played Will Schuester in the Fox Broadcasting television series Glee, which had its television preview on May 19, 2009. He resumed his role in the show as the series premiered on September 9, 2009. He plays a high school Spanish teacher who takes on the task of restoring the school's glee club to its former glory. Morrison also appeared in the show's second season. He returned for the third season, which premiered on September 20, 2011. He made his directorial debut in the third season's ninth episode.
In addition on January 14, 2010, it was announced that Morrison signed a solo record deal with Mercury Records. His first studio album was released on May 10, 2011. Morrison duets with Elton John on "a medley of 'Mona Lisas and Madhatters' going into 'Rocket Man'". His first single, "Summer Rain", premiered on Ryan Seacrest's website on February 28, 2011. Additionally, a duet of "Over the Rainbow" with Gwyneth Paltrow appears on the self-titled album. On June 16, 2010, Morrison joined Leona Lewis — appearing at London's O2 Arena as part of her world tour — for a one-off performance to sing "Over the Rainbow". Morrison was on the cover of the June 2011 issue of MetroSource.
In March 2012, Morrison was featured in a performance of Dustin Lance Black's play, 8 — a staged reenactment of the federal trial that overturned California's Prop 8 ban on same-sex marriage — as Paul Katami. The production was held at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre and broadcast on YouTube to raise money for the American Foundation for Equal Rights.
A Morrison concert at Connecticut's Bushnell Center was recorded by PBS and scheduled to air in spring 2013. On April 28, 2013, Morrison made his first major appearance in the UK as a guest performer at the 2013 Laurence Olivier Awards at the Royal Opera House in London. On June 4, 2013, 222 Records released Morrison's second studio album, Where It All Began. July 7, 2016, Matthew appeared alongside Megan Hilty in a summer evening of Broadway and other songs with The New York Pops at the Forest Hills Stadium in Forest Hills, Queens.
Morrison returned to Broadway as J.M. Barrie in the new musical, Finding Neverland, which opened in April 2015.
Morrison is rumored to be a "Dance Captain" on the upcoming BBC show, The Greatest Dancer.