Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Matthew Morrison Danced His Way into My Heart or, How Erin Gaynor Got Her Theatrical Groove Back

By Erin Gaynor, Development Intern

I think every person in theater had a moment in their life where they knew that they need to be involved in the arts in some capacity. For Matthew Morrison, the headliner of Goodman Theatre’s annual Gala this Saturday, May 21, his moment was when he attended a theater camp at a young age. Years later, during his sophomore year of high school, he made the choice to continue pursuing singing over a promising career in soccer. Morrison reflected in an interview with Parade, saying,"I think I chose the right one but it was probably one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make."

Making the decision to pursue art versus possibly a more “reliable” career in another field is never easy. Some parents are incredibly supportive, some think it’s a quick way into debt (note: if your parents are in this field, tell them to read this article featured in USA Today). But for me, I can’t pull myself away from theater because of Matthew Morrison.

I have only seen one Broadway show my entire life—Hairspray. I saw it the summer of my sophomore year of high school. Prior to seeing Hairspray, I had performed in a few theatrical productions, primarily because my sister and brother had. Theater was a fun after-school activity, nothing more. Then came Matthew Morrison’s Link Larkin. I was infatuated with the character thanks to the John Waters film, but Morrison’s performance was stellar. I was enjoying the musical a lot, and then, the song, “You Can’t Stop the Beat” began. Matthew Morrison worked it. And I don’t mean he danced really well—he worked it. He hit each move with such exuberance that I lost my mild passion for theater and gained a full-fledged love affair. How can one person pumping their arms and moving their legs have such an effect on a high school girl? The phrase “the magic of theater” is over-used, but there was something special about his performance and it remains a pivotal moment in my life. I tried to ignore theater’s grip on me when I went into college. I thought I’d chose the “sensible” profession of teaching history. But by the end of my freshman year, I was a theater studies major.

And to make an even fuller circle, the Goodman’s Gala is a major fundraiser for our Education and Community Engagement programs. In programs like the Student Subscription Series and Cindy Bandle Young Critics, high school students come to Goodman Theatre to see our productions for free and get involved on a deeper level, from post-show discussions to writing professional theatrical reviews. I’d like to think these students have had similar moments of revelation to mine or Matthew’s. No one goes into the arts for the money, and any sort of fame is a complete gamble. You get involved with the arts because they pull you in and simply won’t let go.

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