Matthew Morrison of Glee fame will star in a televised musical of the holiday classic, Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch Musical! On Stage Host Frank DiLella spoke with the actor remotely to find out more about what it took to pull off this production in the age of COVID.
Below is an edited portion of their interview:
Frank DiLella: Matt, how does it feel to be taking on one of the most iconic holiday characters, this holiday season, getting to play the Grinch?
Matthew Morrison: Well, to begin with it was terrifying when I first got the call. You know so many greats have put their stamp on this role. And I was totally terrified. I was like, this is not something typical that you would see from me, but, I think 2020 and the craziness that we're all feeling, I feel like we all feel a little “Grinchy” this year. So that really helped me out with getting into this character, which I absolutely loved. It was terrifying, but it was liberating all at the same time.
FD: Now is this the Grinch that we know from the classic Dr. Seuss property, the book, the cartoon, or is this a little bit more?
MM: It is a little bit more. This is the musical version of it, which, has been on stage for several years. A lot of it is told through the dog's perspective. The legendary Dennis O'Hare played like the old Max, we call him wise Max, we didn’t really call him old Max. But he's just one of my favorite actors and I absolutely loved working with him. And Booboo Stewart played kind of the young contemporary, young Max. And it was great. So a lot of this is told through them, but obviously it's a musical, so we are singing and dancing, which was a little strange for me to be honest, to find out what, how does The Grinch sing and dance? But I found my way through it.
FD: Was "The Grinch" a must-read or must-watch in the Morrison household growing up?
MM: To be honest, no, "The Grinch" was not a must-read or must-watch in our household. We definitely glanced at it I'm sure, through my childhood. But now, since this all happened, it is a must-watch, must-read in my household. It actually is a teachable lesson in terms of, we wake up with our son now and we're just like, 'Oh Rev, you have some "Grinchy" breath' and it gets him to brush his teeth. So, some great teachable moments out of this experience.
FD: Now has Rev seen you dressed as the Grinch?
MM: Yeah, we did some FaceTimes with me as the Grinch and at first it didn't go over very well. He was a little scared. But then he got into it and he could tell that, you know, obviously it was Papa's voice coming out of this character and I was acting and stuff.
FD: What was it like filming during COVID?
MM: It was strange, I'm not gonna lie. It was just weird. I felt so grateful and thankful to be there. We're shooting in London because, you know, a lot of productions are going out of the States, just, because of COVID and stuff. We rehearsed this like a staged musical or a play, where we rehearsed it for a month just by ourselves in a studio. And everyone was in masks, everyone was keeping their six feet distance, which was odd because, you know, I have my arm around someone, but they're not actually there, they're like six feet away. But you know, this is what we do for a living, we pretend, so it was okay. But honestly I learned so much about just the little ticks and everything we give away, in our expressions, because when those masks finally came off after our last COVID test and before we were actually filming, I was seeing these people for the first time. And I'm sure they were feeling the same way about me. And it was amazing to feel like the freshness and the present moment of just going through this and seeing people for the first time. It was awesome.
FD: What's a holiday-must in the Morrison household, aside from watching "The Grinch" this year?
MM: I think a holiday-must for us this year is to give back, to really instill that, to ingrain that I should say, into our son. And by giving back, I mean like Christmas morning, we're definitely going to just kind of do a little Marie Kondo to our place and cleanse a little bit and, and give all that stuff to a toy drive or to a shelter or something. I want that to be a part of the holidays for my son and my family.
FD: What's your new year's resolution for 2021?
MM: You're the first person to ask me that. I honestly have not thought about a new year's resolution, but if I had to think of one, it would probably be to - I think, we all learned a lot this year. I think we learned a lot about ourselves, hopefully. And, I hope what we have learned if, the good things I should say, that we have learned kind of stay with us, for the coming years when things hopefully get back to normal. I've definitely done a lot of like soul searching and journaling and meditating and all that stuff. And I really don't want to give up on that because it really has made me a more whole and centered person and I feel good, and I don't want to get back in the rut of just working and hustling all the time. So, my resolution is to hang on to what I've learned this year.
You can catch Matthew Morrison in Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch Musical! Wednesday night on NBC.