A Totally NEWCLEAR Euan Morton

He's from Scotland, he's energetic and taking the theatre world by storm.A long way from his native home, Euan Morton has made a name for himself in the United States as an actor and singer extraordinaire. His singular voice has been hailed by theatre and music critics alike. He received an Olivier Award nomination for originating the role of Boy George in the musical TABOO.  Moving to New York, he reprises the role on Broadway, and was rewarded with nominations for Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Drama League Award not to mention the Theatre World Award for Outstanding Broadway Debut. Euan recently appeared off-Broadwy in Tony Kushner's adaptation of BRUNDIBAR at The New Victory Theatre, and most recently won the 2006 Obie Award for his appearance in MEASURE FOR PLEASURE at The Public Theater. 

In the past two years, Morton has had several sold-out concerts in New York City at Joe's Pub, The Zipper Theatre and Town Hall, as well as at The Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA, not to mention appearing at Birdland. He's got a great new album out called NEWCLEAR and appeared recently as the title role in the musical TOMMY at the Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor, NY. Fortunately, I was able to catch up with him prior to the opening of TOMMY to talk about the amazing ride he has been experiencing.

TJ:Hi, Euan.Thanks for taking the time to talk with me. How are things going with you?

MORTON:Great, hanging out by the pool. (Laughing) We're on our day off for tech for TOMMY.

TJ:Very nice.How are the rehearsals for the show going?

MORTON:Good, going very well. The cast is really nice and everyone's been super.

TJ:Now, you've never done this show before. What was it that made you want to perform this role?

MORTON:I've always wanted to do the show. When I heard that auditions were coming up, I said, " I'd love to be up for that."And the director has found a way for it to be less of an extravaganza and more of an emotional piece, which has been wonderful to play.

TJ:What has been the most difficult or challenging thing about doing TOMMY?

MORTON:Well, Tommy doesn't have to do that much choreography but it's a very dance-based musical. Dancing is one of my lesser skills. I find the dancing part of the show has been very challenging but I am loving it.Also the songs are very high in range and singing the songs eight nights a week is going to be rough. Fortunately it's a short run. If it were much longer, it could be damaging to the voice. Sag Harbor is great. It's a great place to do a show and the staff and everyone has been truly amazing to work with.

TJ:By the way, congratulations on winning the the Village Voice Obie Award on for your recent performance in David Grimm's MEASURE FOR PLEASUREat The Public Theatre. Did you have any idea that this role would bring this honor?

MORTON:I was stunned. I was playing a gig at Birdland and finished the gig then ran over to get the award.I mean I have always thought it's not about winning prizes,but winning this was wonderful.

TJ:When was it that you knew that this was the profession for you?

MORTON:Well, before I got the job in TABOO, I was working at Tower Records in Picadilly Circus in London. I hadn't worked as an actor for a few months and most of the work was in straight theatre or in television.My agent called and said there was a new workshop of a new musical coming up called TABOO and asked if I was interested. I didn't actually originally want to do musical theatre. It wasn't a passion. Then I did the workshop and it changed my life. It went from the workshop to the West End to Broadway and it opened many doors for me. By the time I arrived in America, I decided I wanted to stay here and work here and enjoy the opportunities that America would afford.

TJ:And you received the Tony nomination for your work in TABOO. It must have been a wild ride.

MORTON:It changed my life in so many ways and it helped me to deal with many aspects of the business, including reviews, both good and bad. It made me a stronger and smarter person.

TJ:Well, I got your CD…

MORTON:Have you listened to it?

TJ:I did.Several times, as a matter of fact, and enjoyed it very much.It's funny because speaking with you, your accent is very distinctive but in listening to the CD, there is no sign of it. But the CD is truly a great piece of work.

MORTON:Thanks, glad you enjoyed it.

TJ:In listening to it, I noticed that there is a distinctive different style to each song. There some country sound to folk style to a combination of Harry Chapin/Jim Croce/Joni Mitchell thing going on.

MORTON:I'm a big fan of Joni Mitchell and the Carpenters. The guy who engineered and co-produced the album with me had worked on Mary Chapin Carpenter albums too, so we certainly had that influence. And the woman who runs my label is very much folk-based for their label. So there's a lot of influence.I was too nervous to do my own music, my own songs, my own voice on the first album. I am now writing my second album because I feel that writing my own is the way to go forward to tell my own story.But I was really happy with this album which showed that I could do other things.

TJ:The song, "Newclear," where did that come from?

MORTON:My friend Mark Underwood wrote it years ago. I've known Mark for 15 years now and he wrote that in college and I really liked the song. I told him that I want to record that song someday and give the album the same title,so don't give it to anyone else. That was ten years ago and I don't think he believed me. He also gave the song AS IT BEGAN, the kind of rocky-punk song on the album.

TJ:What is the theme for the album?

MORTON:The album is very much about the environment and how the environment changes our emotions.It's about love and how external things can change us. This is my first album and I wanted to test the waters to see how the audience reacted to the album. I wanted people to listen to it and give me feedback to see what people thought about it.That's important to me.

TJ:How has the response been?

MORTON:It's been really really great! Great reviews, most from the theatrical press. PLAYBILL gave me a really nice review comparing me to Paul Simon and Karen Carpenter, which was great. So I've been receiving wonderful reviews and the CD is selling very well. I'm really happy with the way it's all been going.

TJ:Ok, here's the part where we learn a little bit more about Euan Morton in MY FIVE FAVORITE THINGS.You ready?

MORTON:Let's do it!  

TJ:FAVORITE AUTHOR

MORTON:Alice Walker and Maya Angelou

TJ:FAVORITE MOVIE

MORTON:THE COLOR PURPLE.

TJ: FAVORITE SONG

MORTON:Tough one because I have so many favorite songs. Well, today it's Gretchen Wilson "Red Necked Woman."

TJ:FAVORITE DESSERT

MORTON:Coffee cake or anything coffee flavored.

TJ:OVERALL FAVORITE THING

MORTON:I would actually have two…the WTA Ladies Tennis tour. The other is the island of Majorca, off the coast of Spain. I want to retire there and die there.

TJ:Thanks, Euan!You've been great and best of luck to you with the CD!

And you can get his CD, which is really great, guys.Check it out. There is a great remix of the song AT THIS MOMENT which ends the CD on a marvelous note. You can buy a copy of this debut album, NewClear, CDBABY or on AMAZON, and at lyricpartners.com.Or you can check out Colony Records in Times Square or Tower Records on Broadway (66th) or call CDBABY from within America on 1-800-289-6923 or outside America call 001-800-289-6923.Thanks again and remember, theatre is the word!! Ciao! 


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