Most people know of Harris from when he won TV’s first ever talent show Star Search back in 1987 but Ham A Musical Memoir starts way before then when he was growing up as gay boy in Oklahoma’s bible belt. His story is full of ups and downs,, with more of the latter as anybody who also had to hide their sexuality for a very long time will know all to well.
The film starts of a little hesitantly but as soon as the charismatic Harris warms up he is beaming telling tales of his first break into show business. At junior school he was cast as one of the polynesian children in South Pacific and next as african/american child in a play about Helen Keller where he was desperate to play the lead,
Acting these all out Harris, a rather adept song and dance man, is a delight until the mood gets dark and he relates how as an 11 year old boy he swallowed more than a handful of seconal because he couldn’t equate being gay in the world that he lived in. It was an extremely touching scene that will ring so true particularly with so many other gay men and women.
He moves on quickly on to his decision to leave home at 16 and follow his dream of being a performer and his accounts of all the low dives he had to play …….once with not a single soul in the audience…. are hilarious . He claims he has no humility, but his self-effacing honesty is the reason why his stories have such an authenticity to them and that draws us in more.
Winning every week on Star Search changed his life ….. and gave him Somewhere Over The Rainbow as his theme song …. but that wasn’t his highlight. After kissing a few frogs along the way, some 27 years ago he met Danny, now his husband, and when they adopted Copper their son, Harris had achieved his life’s ambition.
Harris’s is an entertaining and compelling story that finally has a happy ever-after ending and by setting it all to song, he makes it that more enjoyable. Filmed live at the Pasadena Playhouse, with a generous performance from his musical arranger and accompanist Todd Schroeder and some neat choreography by Lee Martino he has all the help to make him look and sound good, and he takes full advantage of it.
This movie will delight his loyal fans but it really needs to get in front of other audiences too as it well definite appeal to a whole slew of people who may not have seen Harris since his early days of fame . The boy grew up good.