Billy Porter-Helmed HAM: A MUSICAL MEMOIR Begins Tonight at Ars Nova
HAM: A Musical Memoir, a new theatrical event based on Sam Harris' book, HAM: Slices of a Life (a collection of stories and essays published by Simon & Schuster) begins previews tonight, January 8 at Theater 511 at Ars Nova. This innovative and exciting hybrid theatrical concept is the culmination of Harris' successful 30 year career as actor, vocalist and, now, author. HAM: A Musical Memoir will play a limited engagement, with an opening night set for Monday, January 12, 2015.
In HAM: A Musical Memoir, Harris hilariously, passionately, and poignantly brings his critically acclaimed book to the stage in a musical memoir based on his colorful life, from Bible-Belt Oklahoma to show biz to fatherhood and everything in between.
Sam Harris first came to national attention as the premiere winner on Star Search. Other TV credits include series regular on the CBS comedy, The Class, recurring role on Rules of Engagement, and appearances on numerous specials and every talk show, from Leno to Fallon to Oprah. On Broadway Sam starred in The Life (Tony, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk nominations, New York Drama League Award), and The Producers and Grease (Drama Desk nomination). Off-Broadway/Regional productions include The National Tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Hair, Pippin, Jesus Christ Superstar, Cabaret, The Jazz Singer and The First Wives Club. Harris is a multi-million selling recording artist with 9 studio cds. He has toured the globe in concert including sell-outs at New York's Carnegie Hall, Los Angeles' Universal Amphitheatre and London's West End as well as The Boston Pops. He also performed the duets show, Schmooli & Minnooli, with Liza Minnelli. Sam wrote the stage musicals Hard Copy, Revival, Hurry! Hurry! Hollywood!, and the LA smash hit, SAM. For television, he co-created/wrote the television sitcom Down To Earth, which aired for 4 years, supervised/directed segments of Michael Jackson's 30th Year Anniversary at Madison Square Garden, and co-produced the television special Love Letter to New York. He wrote and directed the concert event New York's Finest and co-wrote Liza's Back at the Palace. Sam's first book - HAM: Slices of a Life - was just published by Simon and Schuster to rave reviews.
Todd Schroeder started playing piano at the age of four. Growing up in a musical family, he was introduced to everything from Claude Debussy to Neil Diamond, from Ray Charles to Elton John, but what he remembers most is discovering, at the age of eight, the rock and roll piano playing of Jerry Lee Lewis. For Schroeder, this variety of musical influences has produced a variety of musical accomplishments as a composer, producer, arranger, musical director and performer. Playing piano, though remains Schroeder's first love. He has performed at Carnegie Hall and the White House, with the Boston Pops and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and has appeared on numerous television shows including The Oprah Winfrey Show. As an accomplished composer, his original music has been featured in film and television. He is the co-writer and composer of "Roter Mond: The Braveheart Musical". He co-composed music and lyrics for the hit musical "Unbeatable: A Bold New Musical" that he directed in Sacramento in June 2013. He has also recorded four of his own CD's including the critically acclaimed "Songs My Father Taught Me". Along with writing and producing, Schroeder has performed and arranged for such artists as Angela Lansbury, Nell Carter, Jason Alexander, Rita Coolidge, David Burnham and Sam Harris. He serves as the vocal director for Disney's "Aladdin, A Musical Spectacular" at Disney's California Adventure and is the musical director for Universal Studios Japan. And finally, he is the proud 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 from Pittsburgh, PA. Porter currently stars as "Lola" in the smash hit Broadway musical Kinky Boots, for which he won the 2013 Drama Desk and Tony Awards for Best Actor in a Musical. Other Broadway acting credits include Miss Saigon, Five Guys Named Moe, Grease (all original cast), Smokey Joe's Café and Dreamgirls (20th Anniversary Broadway Concert and LA Ovation Award). Off Broadway and regional credits include Angels in America (Signature Theater), Romance In Hard Times, The Merchant of Venice, House of Lear and Radiant Baby (The New York Shakespeare Festival), Birdie Blue (Second Stage), Angels in America (Actors Theatre Of Louisville), Going Native (The Long Wharf), Jelly's Last Jam (Alliance), Topdog/Underdog (City Theatre), King Lear (Exit, Pursued By A Bear), Jason Robert Brown's Songs For A New World (original cast), Jesus Christ Superstar, Antigone, A Chorus Line and Chicago. His one-man show, Ghetto Superstar: The Man That I Am, debuted at The Public Theater in NYC in conjunction with City Theatre of Pittsburgh and was nominated for a 2005 GLAAD Media Award. Porter was also named "Pittsburgh's Performer of the Year 2003-2004" by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. As a director, Porter directed a critically acclaimed recreation of The Wiz and conceived a musical revue entitled Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Music of Stevie Wonder, which starred Chaka Khan and ran at The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas in the spring of 2002. Porter conceived and directed Being Alive, a musical celebration that aligns the cannons of Stephen Sondheim and William Shakespeare and combines them with the soulful musical styles of the African-American experience. Being Alive made its world premiere in the summer of 2007 at The Westport Country Playhouse and immediately transferred to The Philadelphia Theatre Company, inaugurating their new Suzanne Roberts Theatre. He directed the new musical Twilight In Manchego for the NYMF in the fall of 2008 and is the NAACP Theatre Award winner for Best Direction of a Musical for his production of Once On This Island at Reprise Theatre Company, where he also conceived and directed a new musical revue called The Soul of Richard Rodgers. Other directing credits include Five Guys Named Moe for Casa Manana, Altar Boyz for Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma, RENT (Associate Director: Off-Broadway Revival), Wicked Summer Nights Concert Series at The Ford Amphitheater starring Shoshana Bean, Eden Espinosa and Stephen Schwartz in conjunction with Upright Cabaret where he was Artistic Director for the 2009 Season. Porter made his London directorial debut in the fall of 2009 with Olivier Award Nominee Patina Miller at Live in the Delfont Room. Porter is also a graduate of The Professional Program In Screenwriting at UCLA and is an adjunct professor at his alma mater Carnegie Mellon University's School Of Drama, where he has directed productions of Company and Letters From 'Nam. This fall, Primary Stages presented the World Premiere of his play While I Yet Live. His next directorial project will be The Colored Museum at The Huntington Theatre in Boston.