Interview by: Don of Don411.com
Coordinated by: Anderson Group Public Relations, by James & JT
Photos: Courtesy of Anderson Group Public Relations
Date: May 24, 2016
1. What were some of the challenges encountered while producing “Ham: A Musical Memoir” and how where they over come?
The challenge in turning the book “HAM: Slices of a Life” into the show “HAM: A Musical Memoir” was getting out of the narrative of the book and making the people I’d written about real characters, fully fleshed out, dialogue, scenes, etc. for me to play. The book tells stories about my life, the play brings them into action. I had a lot of help doing this – my New York director, Billy Porter, really helped me to make this transition. I play myself at different ages as well my father, an 80 year old black woman in church, a hateful little league baseball coach, a tranny, a teacher and lots more. Now it’s time to take the stage show to a film of the live show.
2. What do you hope the audience’s takeaway is: from anticipation, to viewing, then after the show?
Well, anticipating is always dangerous! I hope they want to see it because it’s intriguing. I hope they view it with a sense of not knowing what will happen next and get inside the humor and pathos and the music, and when it’s over I hope they’ve had a fulfilling experience, something they can relate to, something they can carry with them.
3. Why is it important to you to produce “Ham: A Musical Memoir”?
Having played the show live in NY and LA, and having gotten really amazing response from critics audiences, I, we, want to take the show to a larger level, filming it, so that it can get to a lot more people than can see it in a theatre. It feels like the next step in the evolution of this show. Book to play to filming the play.
4. What is next on your list of projects after “Ham: A Musical Memoir”?
I always laugh when I’m in the middle of a big project and I’m asked what’s next! This is what I’m doing. This is where my heart and attention and focus lie. BUT, having said that, I’ve just finished a first draft of my next book – this time it’s fiction. And we’re talking about a tour in the spring.
5. What advice would you have giving your younger self?
Probably to try to be more present. Be in what I am doing instead of projecting about what’s going to happen next or what should happen next. What something is supposed to become. My best work has been for the sake of the work itself, not what it’s supposed to bring. There are so many projects, shows, appearances that I don’t even remember except they’re on video. Not good.
6. At this moment, is there any ability you are working to improve on yourself?
Ha! Always. More patience with myself, with others. More trust in myself, in the universe. I tend to let fear consume me. But then I think we all do. More gratitude, less doubt. The show has a bit of this theme – finding “enough.” What is enough? I think we all experience this. Trying to trust that everything is always there.
7. What 1 question would you want asked, that you haven’t been asked in the past? What would be the response?
Why are you using Kickstarter to fund the filming of HAM?
Kickstarter is pretty amazing. I’ve backed a dozen or projects and it always makes me feel like I’m a part of something. A part of creating something that didn’t exist before. More and more art is becoming accessible through the general public becoming involved – whether it’s discovering something on YouTube or something like Kickstarter.
And I love being able to be a part of something at any level I can or want to participate. It can be $10 or $1000 – it’s all towards the same goal. The caveat, of course, is that if you don’t reach your goal you get nada! Scary! But I’m hoping that the response we’ve had form the show, the hysterical pitch video we have (if I do say so myself) and the heart of the show will appeal to people who want to see HAM go to the next level. It’s exciting and scary. The truth is we need the money to finance this – plain and simple. And I think if people check out the site at SamHamShow.com they’ll see what we’re doing and, hopefully, want to get us there.
8. What are some things about you that would be interesting for others to know about you?
I’m a good dad. I am a good husband. I’m a good cook. I’m an idiot at technical stuff. I’m a good student. I am always curious. I am a research freak. I am forced out of my comfort zone by having a son but try to embrace the unknown. I can sabotage myself. I struggle with moderation of any kind. I am a good friend. I love my work. I love writing as much as I love performing what I’ve written. I have a very strong and stalwart group of friends. I love talent of all kinds. I wish I could paint better. I love pickles.
9. Do you have any favorite charities or non-profits you support?
I have supported a number of charities in my life and have done hundreds of benefits in my time! (My music director, Todd Schroeder, always says “Our place in heaven is secure!”) I am drawn to organizations which help kids in need, LGBT youth, and I consider myself an activist for equal rights in all ways.
10. How can others keep up with your progress and contact you? (Links, websites, social media)
Ah, this world of linking to the masses. It’s overwhelming. Website: SamHarris.com, Twitter: @SamHarris, “Kickstarter site: SamHamShow.com, Facebook: Facebook.com/SamFans, Instagram: SamHarrisMusic
Per www.samharris.com website 5/24/2016
Sam Harris’ diversified career has run the gamut from singer and songwriter to actor on Broadway, film and television to writer, director, producer and author.
His now legendary appearances on the premiere season of STAR SEARCH gave him a national platform and his After pulling a weekly audience of more than 25 million viewers a week on STAR SEARCH in it’s premier season, Sam and his powerhouse pop, gospel and theater influenced vocals have never looked back.
He is a multi-platinum recording artist with 9 studio CDs to his credit including SAM HARRIS and SAM-I-AM (both top 40 hits), STANDARD TIME and DIFFERENT STAGES (produced and conducted by the legendary Peter Matz, and which have been listed on numerous “Top 100 Records of All Time” lists.)
Sam has toured extensively in concert and has played to sold-out audiences at major venues including New York’s Carnegie Hall, Los Angeles’ Universal Amphitheatre, London’s West End. He has performed with numerous symphonies including The Boston Pops and participated in Cyndi Lauper’s TRUE COLORS tour. Sam has appeared at The White House, on numerous television specials and live productions, and has been a guest artist on virtually every talk show from Leno to Fallon; his favorite in an historic time, when he performed a stirring “You’ll Never Walk Alone” on THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW in the week following September 11th. Sam is listed as one of Rolling Stone Magazine’s “100 greatest singers of all time.“
On Broadway, Sam received a Tony, Outer Critic’s Circle and Drama Desk nominations for his work in Cy Coleman’s THE LIFE as well as a Drama League Award and Drama Desk nomination for his role in Tommy Tune’s GREASE and appeared on Broadway in Mel Brooks’, THE PRODUCERS. Sam has also starred in JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, CABARET, JOSEPH…, HAIR, PIPPIN, THE JAZZ SINGER, THE FIRST WIVES CLUB and the smash hit, one man show SAM.
As “Perry Pearl” on the CBS sitcom, THE CLASS, Sam’s chameleonic career took a new turn as a series regular, prompting popular columnist, Liz, Smith, to call him “the comedy break breakout character of the television season.” His many television credits include, RULES OF ENGAGEMENT, CSI, MAJOR CRIMES and his own segment EXTRA called “Six Degrees of Sam.” Sam has also co-starred in the films IN THE WEEDS and ELENA UNDONE as well as several documentaries.
Behind the scenes, Sam co-wrote the TBS sit-com, DOWN TO EARTH, which ran for 4 years. He also co-produced the television special LOVE LETTER TO NEW YORK, supervised and directed segments of MICHAEL JACKSON’S 30TH YEAR ANNIVERSARY at Madison Square Garden, wrote music for the award winning film, LITTLE MAN, and co-wrote LIZA’S AT THE PALACE, which won the 2009 Tony Award. He also created and directed the concert event, NEW YORK’S FINEST – BROADWAY’S LEADING MEN.
The success of his memoir, “HAM: Slices of a Life” has evolved into the musical play, “HAM: A Musical Memoir” which played to resounding critical success in New York and Los Angeles.
Sam is married to Danny Jacobsen and they are the proud fathers of Cooper Atticus Harris-Jacobsen.
From the www.kickstarter.com pitch 5/24/2016
About this project
“Ham: A Musical Memoir” is the funny and poignant story of a boy (Sam) growing up in the bible belt of Oklahoma, gay, an outsider, who found himself through the escape of singing and writing and acting. His public singing debut was when he was three. He auditioned for the role of Helen Keller when he was five. He wanted to be Jewish because they were the chosen people. He won first, second and third place at his school talent show. He was the only white boy in the black church in “colored town.” His house burned down. Twice. He left home at fifteen and fell in love with another boy in a show—an abomination—which led to an attempted suicide at age sixteen. He became famous at age twenty-two and went on the hamster wheel of show business, but something was always missing. “I believe that less is . . .less. And more is never enough.” In an emotional flashback to an exchange between teenaged Sam and his very wise high school psychology teacher, Sam is finally able to come to terms with the drive that made him a success but cloaked a constant need for something more. Years later, Sam is married and becomes a father. And that . . . is more than enough.