Glee Star Offers Shoulder Rubs At OCHSA Gala

Monday, March 21, 2011

Matthew Morrison entertained a sold out ballroom Saturday night at Orange County High School of the Arts' black-tie fundraiser gala, singing "It Had to be You" with the ukulele that he played when he auditioned for the role of Will Schuester on the hit TV show "Glee."
OCHSA alumni-turned-Broadway-performers Lindsay Mendez and Krysta Rodriguez flew in from New York City to perform in the gala, as well.

Orange County High School of the Arts 1997 graduate Matthew Morrison, who now stars in Fox-TV's "Glee," performs "It Had To Be You" during Saturday night's Gala 2011 "A Swingin' Singing' Salute to the Stars of the USO" at the Hyatt Regency Irvine

But Morrison was the star of the show, raking in $60,000 for the tuition-free arts conservatory school, with people buying raffle tickets and placing bids for a chance to meet him on the set of "Glee," have lunch with him and, in a couple cases, get their shoulders rubbed by him.

"A Swingin' Singin' Salute to the Stars of the USO" was the theme of this year's gala. More than 700 Orange County arts patrons paid $350 a ticket, packing the Grand Ballroom at the Hyatt Regency in Irvine. They drank champagne and dined on Steak Diane at candlelit tables.

Students at OCHSA had to audition to perform in the three-act show (about 100 got the honor), which opened with a toe-tapping medley of World War II tunes such as "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" by the school's Montage Orchestra. The boys danced and sang in sailor suits and tap shoes, the girls wore polka dot dresses and red gloves.

After Rodriguez and alum Chad Doreck, who has worked off-Broadway and on TV, performed the Bette Midler number "Stuff Like That There," to close out Act II, Morrison came back onstage with Ralph Opacic, the founder of OCHSA.

Opacic was Morrison's mentor back when the "Glee" star attended OCHSA, graduating in '97. He told the audience that they had sold more than 1,100 $10 raffle tickets for a chance to spend time with Morrison on the set of "Glee." Purchases came from 62 cities in five countries, including Italy and Germany. After a drum roll, Morrison picked a ticket with the name of OCHSA senior Collin Sanderson, who happened to be in the crowd.

Morrison kicked off Act III wearing a black fedora to sing the sexy, jazzy Michael Bublé number "Sway." Senior Megan Cutler was a dancer in the show. "We have to act like it's not a big deal but inside we're like, 'Oh my God!'" she said before the show.

To warm the audience up when it came time to raise money, the auctioneer asked for bids on a glass of tap water he had in his hand. Sold! For $500. A Disneyland package, including a stay in the suite where Walt himself used to sleep, went for $11,000. And a behind-the-scenes Broadway extravaganza package went for $30,000.

When it was time to auction off a chance to meet Morrison on the set of "Glee" and have lunch with him, the Tony, Emmy and Golden Globe-nominated actor came back onstage. Bidding quickly shot to $14,000, at which point Morrison sweetened the deal, shouting out: "Now ladies, I will show you my trailer."
When bidding seemed to stall at $22,000, the auctioneer asked Morrison to mention the trailer again.
"I, I, I will rub your shoulders in my trailer!" he blurted out.

Someone raised their paddle for $23,000. The bidding ended with Stephen and Cindy Fry Russ and Kathy Van Cleve raising paddles to pay $25,000 each for the backstage pass. All told, the night raised more than $866,000 for the school.

"This place really gave me the opportunity to dream big," Morrison told the audience before the finale. "I am you. I was you. And anything's possible. I wouldn't have been where I am today without it."

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