NEWS RELEASE — “HAM: A MUSICAL MEMOIR” STARRING SAM HARRIS — OPENS JANUARY 23, 2016 AT LA LGBT CENTER’S RENBERG THEATRE
The Los Angeles LGBT Center’s
Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center
In Association with Susan Dietz and Elaine Krauss
HAM: A MUSICAL MEMOIR
Written and Performed by SAM HARRIS
Directed by BILLY PORTER
Musical Direction by TODD SCHROEDER
January 23—February 7, 2016
Direct from a critically acclaimed off-Broadway run, HAM: A Musical Memoir will make its West Coast debut at the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Renberg Theatre with previews beginning January 21 and opening night set for Saturday, January 23. HAM: A Musical Memoir will play a strictly limited engagement through February 7.
Based on Harris’s book HAM: Slices of a Life (Simon & Schuster), the musical play hilariously, passionately, and poignantly takes us from a conflicted childhood in Bible-Belt Oklahoma to the dizzying roller coaster ride of a life in show business to the fulfillment of the impossible dream of fatherhood, culminating in the lessons of a life well lived. Well . . . lived.
HAM: A Musical Memoir is directed by Tony Award-winner Billy Porter and musical direction is by acclaimed pianist and composer Todd Schroeder.
Sam Harris is a multi-million selling recording artist, Tony-nominated Broadway and television actor, award-winning playwright, composer, director, and most recently, best selling author. Before American Idol, before The Voice, Harris first exploded into the public eye as the premiere winner of TV’s Star Search. On Broadway, Harris starred in The Life (Tony, Outer Critic’s Circle, Drama Desk nominations), The Producers, and Grease (Drama Desk nomination). National Tour, off-Broadway and regional credits include Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Hair, Pippin, Jesus Christ Superstar, Cabaret, The Jazz Singer, and The First Wives Club. On television, Harris was a series regular on the CBS sitcom The Class, had a recurring role on Rules of Engagement, and made other guest star appearances. He has performed on numerous specials and every talk show from Leno to Oprah to Fallon. He has nine studio CDs to his credit, has toured the globe in concert, and he made Rolling Stone’s list of The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. Harris is the author of the stage musicals Hard Copy, Different Hats, Revival, Hurry! Hurry! Hollywood!, and SAM. He co-wrote Liza’s at the Palace (Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event), co-created/co-wrote the TV sitcom Down To Earth, musically supervised segments of Michael Jackson’s 30th Year Anniversary Special at Madison Square Garden, and co-produced the PBS special Love Letter to New York. Harris is married to businessman Danny Jacobsen and they are the proud parents of seven-year-old Cooper Atticus Harris-Jacobsen.
Todd Schroeder began playing piano at the age of four. His musical family introduced him to everything from Claude Debussy to Neil Diamond to Ray Charles to Elton John to Jerry Lee Lewis. This variety of influences led to a wide range of musical accomplishments as composer, producer, arranger, musical director, and performer. Schroeder has musically directed for Harris for over 20 years including appearances at Carnegie Hall, The White House, with The Boston Pops, and at many other prestigious venues. His original music has been featured in films and on television. He co-wrote Roter Mond: The Braveheart Musical and he co-composed music and lyrics for Unbeatable: A Bold New Musical (which he also directed in 2013). Schroeder has recorded four of his own CDs. In addition to his work with Harris, Schroeder has musically directed/written/arranged for and performed with such artists as Angela Lansbury, Nell Carter, Jason Alexander, Rita Coolidge, and David Burnham. He is the musical director for Universal Studios Japan and is the founder of The Todd Schroeder Young Artist Grant, an annual scholarship presented to graduating high school students wanting to pursue careers in the arts.
Billy Porter is a Tony and Grammy Award-winning singer, composer, actor, playwright, and director. He won the 2013 Tony Award for Lead Actor in a Musical for his performance in Kinky Boots. Other Broadway credits include Miss Saigon, Five Guys Named Moe, Grease, Smokey Joe’s Café, and Dreamgirls. Porter’s off-Broadway and regional credits include Angels in America, Romance in Hard Times, The Merchant of Venice, House of Lear, Radiant Baby, Birdie Blue, Going Native, Jelly’s Last Jam, Topdog/Underdog, Songs for a New World, Jesus Christ Superstar, A Chorus Line and Chicago. His solo show, Ghetto Superstar: The Man That I Am, debuted at The Public Theater in 2005. Directing credits include The Wiz and Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Music of Stevie Wonder, and Being Alive, a musical celebration mixing the canons of Sondheim and Shakespeare and combining them with musical styles of the African-American experience. He won a NAACP Theatre Award for Best Director of a Musical for Once on This Island at Reprise in Los Angeles, where he also conceived and directed a musical revue entitled The Soul of Rodgers. Last spring he directed George C. Wolfe’s The Colored Museum at Boston’s Huntington Theatre. Other directing credits include Five Guys Named Moe, Altar Boyz, and Rent.
HAM: A Musical Memoir will play two preview performances on Thursday, January 21 at 8pm and Friday, January 22 at 8pm, and opening is set for Saturday, January 23 at 8pm. The regular performance schedule is Friday and Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 7pm through February 7. Tickets are $20 for previews and $35 for regular performances and are available online at lalgbtcenter.org/theatre or via phone by calling (323) 860-7300. The Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Renberg Theatre is located at 1125 N. McCadden Place (one block east of Highland, just north of Santa Monica Boulevard), in Hollywood, 90038. Free onsite parking is available.
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Sam Harris in “Ham: A Musical Memoir.” Photo by Timmy Blupe.