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Matthew Morrison Paid His Dues

I’ve been involved with musical theater since high school at Cleveland Heights-specifically with the Girl’s Glee Club/Men’s Chorus directed by Bill Thomas.  We in the club often referred to him derisively as just Bill.

In the same vein, the character portrayed by Matthew Morrison in the hit Fox TV show “Glee!” is constantly derided and put down by the cheer leading coach played hilariously by Jane Lynch.

In case anyone thought Morrison was an overnight success in the show, Herman and I watched a Sunday Morning CBS segment about his years on Broadway and in musicals all the way from high school on.

It also showed him going back to his roots at Orange County High School of the Arts, commonly known as OCHSA, for those of us who lived in Southern California as well as for Herman’s daughter, Cara, who teaches there.

Morrison made a $15,000 donation and talked with his mentor at OCHSA, who he says he bases his character on in “Glee!” Partly due to the success of “Glee!,” Morrison mentioned that enrollment at OCSHA has more than doubled this year.

The Girls Glee Club/Men’s Chorus was not so much looked down upon when I was there, but was in direct competition with the other high school singing group called Heights Choir. The choir was a bit more snooty than the glee club, and in fact they took themselves way too seriously as singers.

The Girls Glee Club/Mens Chorus was more about camaraderie and singing our hearts out. As I mentioned recently, Skating With the Stars contestant Sean Young was a fellow Glee Club member I toured with to Washington, DC back in 1977. It was a fun group and I have many fond memories of the time with them.

My best buddy Carol Gifford and I used to break up laughing as we would catch each other’s eyes over the risers during practices as well as performances. She was an alto and I was a soprano, so we were separated with me at the top right and her at the top left of the group.

Going from the singing group like the Glee Club to the kind of success Matthew Morrison has achieved is unlikely at best. The show has also put Jane Lynch on the map as Sue Silvester, the tough-as-nails arch rival to Morrison’s Schuster character. Everyone refers to him as “Schue” on the show except the kids in the glee club who refer to him as Mr. Schuster. Lynch also paid her dues with years of small parts, but the character she played as Charlie Sheen’s therapist in “Two and a Half Men” was the likely send-off for her Sue Sylvester character. She was hilarious as the sarcastic therapist on “Two and a Half Men” as she is on “Glee!”

If you haven’t caught the show, it airs on the Fox TV Network on Tuesday nights at 8pm. Check it out if you haven’t yet.

About Kathryn Spira

Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland, OH who pursued an acting career in NYC and Los Angeles, now pursues freelance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County, New York. Previous columns may be accessed at her web site