Although a Broadway actor since the age of 19, Matthew Morrison made a bigger splash on TV, where he began playing the role of Mr. Shuester — the well-meaning music teacher and adult star of Glee — in 2009. The show required its cast to sing and dance, two skills Morrison had sharpened during his time as a stage actor. A California native, he began performing in school plays and theater camp productions before relocating to New York, where he enrolled at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. After a brief stint in the boy band LMNT, Morrison returned his focus to acting and landed a role in the Broadway adaptation of Footloose. More Broadway shows followed, including the first stage production of John Waters’ Hairspray. The musical won a Grammy Award in 2003 for its soundtrack; Morrison also received his own nomination from the Outer Critics Circle Awards, having attracted a good bit of attention by originating the role of Link Larkin. As his reputation grew, so did his résumé, and Morrison began branching out into film and TV.
In 2008, he joined fellow Broadway vets Lea Michele and Jenna Ushkowitz in the cast of Glee. The show aired its first season early the following year and became a surprise hit, convincing the producers to extend the first season into mid-2010. That same year, Morrison signed a record contract with Mercury and began recording a solo album. He continued working on the album as Glee entered its second season, securing duets with Elton John and occasional Glee co-star Gwyneth Paltrow along the way. The finished product — a self-titled collection of adult contemporary pop music, featuring cover songs as well as several Morrison originals — was released in May 2011. Preceded by the single “Summer Rain,” the album debuted at 24 on the Billboard 200 and faded from the charts not long afterward. Two years later, Morrison returned to the music of Broadway for Where It All Began, a collection of 12 standards produced by Phil Ramone; the album was released in June 2013.