Back in my days as Star Quarterback for the High School Drama Club, a select group of friends and I had carefully compiled a list of Broadway celebs with whom we'd developed a healthy obsession. We referred to those chosen men and women as our Broadway "Husbands and Wives". (Some people might not consider such theatrical polygamy among High-Schoolers "healthy". To those people I shout profanities and throw my middle fingers in the air, to be censored later for television broadcast – “You don’t know me!”)
High atop this distinguished list on the Husbands side was the one and only Sam Harris; a contribution of mine (if I may be so bold). I'd first fallen in love with his voice from my Cast Recording of The Life, and subsequently with the rest of him once I'd seen the photography on the inside cover of his solo album, Standard Time. A promo poster from the release of Sam's Revival CD (a triumphant eBay victory) immediately went up on my bedroom wall; Yet another strategic maneuver to save myself the burden of eventually having to come out to my parents. In the poster, Sam was wearing silver rings on almost every finger. I found the look incredibly hot and somehow very masculine. So I pranced over to Claire's Boutique at the local mall and bought six just like 'em, in an attempt to emulate my idol. Of course, on my dainty hands they made me look more like Elizabeth Taylor...(Oh, well.) The jewelery came right off, but my adoration for Sam Harris (and our imaginary matrimony) have persevered to this day.
Last week I jumped at the chance to FINALLY see the recent graduate of CBS’s The Class live when he played Birdland - my very favorite land these days. The show was a wintry mix; Partly Broadway with light sprinkles of holiday classics (old and new) and a 30% chance of pop standards. It began with a gorgeous arrangement of Eric Clapton’s “Change the World” with backup by long-time accompanist Todd Schroeder. The eclectic songlist included “I Can See It” from The Fantasticks, Cindy Lauper’s “Time after Time” and “Making Love Alone”, with lyrics slightly naughtier and more hilarious than I remember from the Bernadette Peters Carnegie Hall album. In a tribute to Al Jolson, who the Tony nominee was slated to play a few years back in a bio-musical until funding fell out, Sam threw amplification to the wind and gave us “Rock-A-Bye Your Baby” in true Jolson style. No mic – Just raw talent. It was probably one of the most brilliant highlights of the evening. (Although, I must stress that Sam Harris is a professional, and such unprotected performing is not recommended for just any schmuck off the street.) He vows to return to the Jolson project someday soon...Let’s pray on that. A couple of my faves of the evening included soaring renditions of “Don’t Rain on My Parade” (in Barbra’s Original Movie Key, Thank-you-very-much) and “I Am Changing” from Dreamgirls (NOT at Jennifer Holiday’s Original Broadway Weight.) Both earned standing O’s from the crowd, and rightfully so.
A fellow Blogger (and Vlogger, even), Sam Harris is pure, fresh-squeezed Showbiz Magic, not from concentrate. Apart from being one of the most thrilling vocalists around, his banter between songs is nothing short of first-rate stand-up comedy. He masters the art of Charming Self Indulgence like no other. And yet he remains as insightful and motivational as he is hysterical. I can still only imagine what it’s like to see him in a full-scale show on Brawt-WAY, but as a concert performer, he's electrifying. It was yet another glorious evening at Birdland. If Sam visits your land any time soon, run like a girl! He is an experience not to be missed.
And he is my husband.
Photograph of Poinsettias, Sam Harris and Randy Rainbow at Birdland - Courtesy of Jim Caruso