Interview: Euan Morton

EuanMortonFrom June 2009:

Most famous for playing Boy George in Broadway’s “Taboo,” transplanted gay Scotsman Euan Morton is homesick, and in true show biz fashion, he’s doing a cabaret act to deal with it! 2009 marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, Scotland’s most famous songwriter and poet. To celebrate, Scotland is calling ’09 the Year of the Homecoming.

To mark this great occasion and to bring a wee piece of home to New York City, Euan is performing his new Scottish-themed one man show, “Caledonia: Songs for the Homecoming” through the last few weeks in June. I caught up with Euan to ask a few questions about the show and what he’s been up to.

How did this act come about?

It’s a departure from the other cabaret concerts I’ve done. I used to sing all of these Scottish folk songs as a kid — my mum’s a singer and she taught us — but I’ve never done this stuff in public. I’m doing a lot of traditional Scottish music, as well as modern stuff like Annie Lennox’s “Why” and “500 Miles” by the Proclaimers. We did it for the first time last night and people really seem to enjoy it. It wasn’t even my idea: I was hanging out with Dessie Moynihan from the Shubert Organization. I told her it was the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns’s birth, and Dessie suggested the idea of a Scottish celebration concert — I owe it all to her.

You’re known for playing good-hearted but scandalously outrageous characters — is any of that on display in “Caledonia”?

I can’t go as crazy in cabaret as I can when I’m playing Caligula or Boy George or any of those other riotous men. But the part of me that goes into those characters is definitely something I enjoy playing with onstage. My director Lee Armitage and I are much more organized with this show than other concerts I’ve done before. We’ve actually written a script out, which I haven’t done often before. It’s a really good thing, because my mind sometimes wanders and I say stupid things and repeat myself just before, you know, a tender ballad. Plus, it gives us a chance to consciously draw out those parts of my personality you mentioned, which definitely contrast me with a more traditional cabaret performer.

You’re missing Scotland?

Not just Scotland! I haven’t left the USA since March 2005 — for me that’s strange because from London or Scotland it’s so easy to travel. You can get to Spain for $120 round trip, Amsterdam $80, France $40 and I used to leave the UK four to six times a year. So I miss all those places. I have a reason to go home next year. My little sister is getting married in June 2010; by that time it’ll be six and a half years.

Any dream projects in the works?

I’ve talked about writing my own musical. I’ve always loved the Carpenters. And I’m even more fascinated by the darkness and addictions that come with success. I wanted to write a show about a boy who was obsessed with the Carpenters and ended up living like Karen did. Because no one ever talks about male anorexia. It’s actually much more common than we think. Then I realized he didn’t need to be a Carpenters fan, that in fact that cheapened both the boy’s problem and the memory of Karen. You could just do a show about male eating disorders. People have pooh-poohed the idea but now comes “Next to Normal,” bringing bipolarity to Broadway, so perhaps that’s something I’ll get back into. Writing-wise now I’m working on writing a movie — it’s about a woman who was a fighter in the French Resistance in World War II, who became a leader in it. There were a handful of women like her in the Resistance, but they are rarely recognized. She’s now 105 and she practices the art of the “healing hands.” I’m also involved in two new musicals, leading roles. “Behind the Limelight,” which is the life of Charlie Chaplin and the other is “Caligula,” which I did in the first season of NYMF. Both of those are definitely dream projects, even though, like “Caledonia,” they weren’t necessarily an original idea of mine.

To learn about Jonathan Warman’s directing work, see jonathanwarman.com.

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2 thoughts on “Interview: Euan Morton

  1. Just got home after seeing Ewan’s brilliant performance in PARADE at Ford’s Theatre in DC. I feel sorry for anyone out there who isn’t familiar with this man and his wonderful & astonishing body of work. Last Monday, he brought his cabaret act to the Kennedy Center as part of Barbara Cook’s SPOTLIGHT series. You’ll be relieved to hear that the Roof Terrrace is still intact, despite being blown to smithereens by Euan’s spectacular work!

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