Long before Ruben Studard and Aiken clay became best friends, before Kelly met Justin (and made that awful movie) and american idol even becoming a concept – almost 40 years ago, believe it or not, in 1983 – the hottest talent competition on TV was star search, a syndicated weekly series in which singers, dancers, comedians, actors and “spokespeople” (that word wasn’t even part of the American vernacular until the show debuted) argued the right to be declared the best of the best in their field.
There is perhaps no one better known for his time on star search that the multi-talented, Tony Award-nominated star of stage, film and television: Sam Harris. The mere mention of his name can spark fond memories of his performances on star search (where he won top honors for 13 straight weeks in his first season), a time when his rendition of “Over the Rainbow” became entertainment legend.
Now, through the successful and ongoing partnership of Studio Tenn and the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, Sam Harris returns to Nashville this Saturday night for an evening of Cabaret on stagekicking off the second season of these deals on TPAC’s stage Andre Jackson Hall.
For Harris, performing in Nashville is something of a homecoming – as it was to Music City that he moved at the age of 15 to perform on the stages of Opryland USA, perhaps the park at world’s best-known musical theme and fertile breeding ground for some of the industry’s most successful stars. At this tender age, his parents allowed Sam to drop out of school to pursue his dream of becoming a star (he had been performing since he was three, after all) and showcasing his many talents at the representations of I hear America sing at Opryland USA.
His experience at Opryland prepared him for everything that was to come in his career – star searchBroadway, recording, movies, one-man-shows, you name it, he did it — and he still calls the friends he made during his Opryland days his “family.”
“I had the best time at Opryland,” he recalled. “And I learned so much during my time there.”
And while he admits his parents made the difficult decision to let him come to Nashville on his own to pursue his dreams, he said they were used to having a precociously talented son who clearly knew what he wanted to achieve. in life.
“They knew I had to do it,” he suggests. “But I look at my 14-year-old son now, who can’t even boil an egg, and I’m like, ‘What did my parents think?'”
This realization, however, sparks another memory: “When I was seven, my dad was a band director in high school and my whole family would go on a group trip. We had never been on vacation before, so it was a really big deal. But, I was in a drama class in Tulsa, which was the closest big city to my small hometown, and we had a show coming up that same week.
“Yes, the performance date of my 15 minute play Stone Soup was a day of conflict with this bad trip, but my parents had the wisdom to ask me what I wanted to do? I chose the play, of course , so my grandma came to stay with me while the rest of the family went on a trip with the band!”
For seven-year-old Sam, the answer came as easily as it did for Harris today: “I enjoyed playing so much,” he says. “I’m so blessed. I started showing interest when I was two or three years old — I actually sang ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ when I was three — so I definitely got the hang of it. bug early on and by the time I was a few years older I was making up my own stories and putting on shows in the living room.”
With its lifelong penchant for entertaining audiences, what can we expect from Saturday night’s performance at Cabaret on stage? One thing is certain: Sam Harris will be at its best.
“This is one of my favorite shows I’ve done in years and years,” he promises, in a wide phone interview from his home in California. “It’s pretty eclectic: Broadway, pop, monologues – really beautiful, subtle stuff, as well as big hits. It’s really a range of music.”
The beauty of his new show, in which he will be joined by the musical director John McDanielstems from the shared experience of returning to the performance space after the long and arduous stay caused by the global Covid-19 pandemic.
“Since we have all been allowed to leave our homes again, as we have been able to reopen, there has been this incredible feeling and a healing as people put themselves in a room with each other and have an experience common,” Harris says. “Being together, laughing and crying together again is so exciting, joyful and palpable. It’s like people have gone crazy and are so happy to have a common goal again: to be entertained.”
“I always have the best time when I’m on stage,” he says. “But there’s just something more special about it now. When I start creating a show, it’s a carefully crafted evening of theater and when you do it in a small venue, you can’t fake it. It becomes a really personal, intimate experience.”
About Sam Harris
Sam HarrisHis diverse career has run the gamut from singer and songwriter to actor on Broadway, in film and television, to writer, director, producer and author. After attracting a weekly audience of more than 25 million viewers on star search in its first season, Sam and his powerful voice influenced by pop, gospel and theater have never looked back. jimmy fallon called her performance “Over the Rainbow…one of the greatest performances ever to air on television. EVER!”
Sam is a multi-platinum recording artist with 9 studio CDs to his credit. Rolling Stone magazine listed him among the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time”.
On Broadway, Sam received Tony, Outer Critic’s Circle and Drama Desk nominations for his work in Cy Colemanit is Life, a Drama League Award and Drama Desk nomination for her role in Tommy Tuneit is Fat, and appeared in Mel Brooks‘ The producers, as good as Jesus Christ Superstar, Cabaret, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Hair, Pippin and The jazz singer. His autobiographical show HAM: a musical memoir (realized by Billy Porter) performed off-Broadway and in Los Angeles, winning Los Angeles’ prestigious Ovation Award for Best Musical, as well as Best Actor and Best Musical Direction for its longtime musical director, Todd Schröder. HAM was filmed for TV and can be seen on all major streaming channels. Time magazine called it “one of the most powerful, moving and relevant live performance films of the year”.
Sam has toured extensively and performed to sold-out audiences everywhere from Carnegie Hall to the Boston Pops. He played with Cyndi Lauper on her true colors round. Him and Liza Minnell presented their duo-show Schmoolie and Minnooli in a sold-out limited edition in New York. Sam has appeared in the White House, numerous television specials and live productions, and been a guest performer on virtually every talk show, his favorite in historic times, when he performed a moving “You’ ll Never Walk Alone” on The Oprah Winfrey Spectacle in the week following September 11, 2001. Sam was a regular on the CBS sitcom, The class, winning the People’s Choice Award and starred in numerous series. He hosted his own segment on in addition TV show called “Six Degrees of Sam.”
Behind the scenes, Sam co-wrote the TBS sitcom, Down to earthco-produced and directed the television special love letter to new yorksupervised and directed segments of michael jackson30th anniversary of at Madison Square Garden, and co-wrote Liza is at the palace for Liza Minnell, which won the Tony Award. He created and directed the concert event, The Best of New York – The Best Men on Broadwayand has conducted numerous multi-star events featuring Broadway and recording luminaries.
Sam wrote the best-selling book HAM: Slices of a life, which was the basis of the hit show. His new novel, which this time is literary fiction, is called The substance of all things, has garnered tremendous reviews from all leading book publications and is in development for a limited series.
About Cabaret on Stage
Studio Tenn Theater Company and Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) present the return of their popular Cabaret On the scene series, featuring four intimate evenings on TPAC’s Jackson Hall stage with legendary performers, including the Emmy and Tony Award-winning actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth (Schmigadoon!, villain); Emmy Award-winning actress and recording artist Liz Callaway (Merrily We Roll Along, baby); with Broadway, television and film actor Jason Graae (Falsettos, villains); award-winning actor and multi-platinum entertainer Sam Harris (life, producers); and four-time Tony nominee Judy Kuhn (Fiddler on the Roof, Les Miserables) who sang the title role in Disney’s Pocahontas.
Tickets are available at www.tpac.orgby phone at (615) 782-4040 and in person at the TPAC Box Office, 505 Deaderick St., in downtown Nashville.
Harris and Kuhn will be joined by John McDaniel, Grammy and Emmy Award-winning musical director, composer, director, arranger and producer, who will serve as their musical director and emcee. Callaway and Graae will be joined by the pianist Alex Rybeckaward-winning composer, arranger and musical director known for his work on Broadway (Damn Yankees, Merrily We Roll Along), in concerts, cabarets and recordings. Chenoweth will be joined by the Music Director Mary Mitchell Campbellconductor, composer and musical director of many Broadway shows (mean girls, Prom).