A Tony Award-nominee, a theater producer and their young son bring star power to Arlington.
By Joan Tupponce
Arlington is filled with political power couples, but one local family is singlehandedly taking the entertainment business by storm.
Actor Euan Morton, who is currently playing King George in the Broadway juggernaut Hamilton, and his wife, producer Lee Armitage, along with their son Iain Armitage, star of CBS’s Young Sheldon, have made the Beltway enclave their home for 17 years.
Since marrying in 2005, the couple has split their time between Arlington and New York, navigating the demands of performing on Broadway, and now, filming schedules in Los Angeles for 9-year-old Iain. They are in constant motion, but “this is our lifestyle,” says Euan. “This is what we chose.” And they are making it work.
Born and raised just outside of Edinburgh, Scotland, Morton attended Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts and later worked in regional theaters and television in London. His life took a 180-degree turn when he was cast in the role of the flamboyant singer Boy George for the London musical Taboo in 2002 and comedian Rosie O’Donnell decided to finance a Broadway production of the show.
Morton remembers feeling as if he were watching a movie reel of his own life when he first set foot in New York City in 2003. “It was my first time in America,” he says. “Suddenly this was becoming my life. It was amazing.”
The show was Morton’s first major role, and his performance was well received. He was nominated for a 2003 Lawrence Olivier Award and for both a 2004 Tony Award and a Drama Desk Award. He won a 2004 Theatre World Award for his portrayal. Says Morton, “Today I earn my money as an actor thanks to George—the person and the show.”
His portrayal of Boy George was good preparation for his role as Hedwig in the national tour of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, a role that has been played by a variety of celebrity A-listers, including Neil Patrick Harris and Taye Diggs. “In many ways it was helpful to the character not to be as well known,” Morton says. “People really saw Hedwig when I played her.
Now as King George in Hamilton, he is the first actor from Britain to play the part. “I am also the first of the Kings that will stay for a long time,” he says, noting that he stepped into the role last July. “I’m playing the role for a year.”
At the moment, Armitage—daughter of former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Lee Armitage—is putting her producing work on hold to be with Iain as he films his series in Los Angeles. At a young age, Iain is already carving out a very promising career in film and television. The precocious child actor, known for the bowtie he wears both on the show and off, is a favorite of Jim Parsons, famous for his role as Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory as well as his work on Broadway. Parsons, the mind behind Young Sheldon, is serving as the show’s executive director.
Iain first got the attention of the film and television community when he was six years old and began posting distinctive theater reviews on his YouTube channel, Iain Loves Theatre, after going to see Sunday in the Park with George at Signature Theatre in Arlington. Matthew Gardiner, associate artistic director of Signature, and a longtime friend and colleague of Morton and Armitage, was amazed at Iain’s insight. “He was more knowledgeable than most adults,” he says. “He put the video review up online and it exploded. Singer Katy Perry even responded.”
Since then he’s played Ziggy Chapman on the HBO series Big Little Lies and Brian in the film The Glass Castle. “Iain has such an amazing presence. He’s so intelligent,” says Gardiner.
Morton is not surprised that his son was cast in the role of Sheldon in the television sitcom: “He’s very talented. He’s a fantastic actor and a good person. He is naturally altruistic.”
Morton is a “loving dad,” says Gardiner. “I see Euan’s curiosity and wit in Iain.”
Gardiner describes Morton as a master storyteller with an angelic voice. “He has a voice unlike anyone else’s voice in musical theater world,” Gardiner says. “He’s a very loving person, open and generous.”
Everyone in the family is artistic, he adds. “Storytelling is a big part of that household, as is music. And, Lee and Euan have instilled that love of music and storytelling in Iain as well as compassion.”
This article originally appeared in the February 2018 issue of Virginia Living Magazine.