Whatever you do, don’t call Sam Harris’s upcoming performance at The Rosslyn Spectrum Theatre cabaret.
“We don’t like the ‘c’ word, ” he says in a hushed voice. “To me, that connotes people sitting around and smoking and drinking at tables. Now, I have the greatest respect for the people who bust their tuchuses doing it — it’s just that I like for my audiences to be facing me in one direction. ”
Harris’s concert, then, this Saturday March 15, will showcase the Broadway star powerful vocal prowess. Last seen here at the 2001 Capital Pride Festival, Harris’s astonishing voice can powerfully raise the rafters as well as gently stir the soul. His charmed theatrical career has included stints in the Broadway revival of Grease opposite Rosie O’Donnell, a tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and a recent six-month stint as flamboyant drag queen Carmen Ghia in Mel Brooks’s The Producers, a largely non-singing role.
“I had a ball, ” he says his Producers experience. “It was a thrill for me to be doing a Broadway show that was about comedy and not about singing. That was a nice change. ”
Harris, who came out several years ago, got his national kick start in the early ’80s with a win on Star Search. But this “original American Idol ” is dismayed by the current spate of reality performance shows that seem more intent on tearing down the participants than lifting them up.
“What is it in somebody that allows them to say, ‘I will do anything and suffer any humiliation if I can be on television for fifteen seconds,’ ” he ponders. “What happened to the concept that fame or celebrity are earned from craft or accomplishment of doing something? We have this strange curiosity with watching people behave inappropriately. It’s called reality TV, but I think it’s more like surreality TV. ”
Asked if he could survive the process today — in particular the sharply critical fangs of Idol‘s Simon Cowel, Harris laughs.
“In a Yankee minute. ”
Sam Harris will appear in concert with accompanist Todd Schroeder at the Rosslyn Spectrum Theatre, 1611 N. Kent Street, on Saturday, March 15, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $35. Call 703-218-6500 or visit www.tickets.com.