Harrison (Harry / Haz) is an actor, singer, musician and trans activist.
I first met him a shy, year 9 pupil, but as time went on and he became the person he was always supposed to be,
I was privileged to get to know the chatty, ambitious and endlessly optimistic young man he is today.
RV: Haz, you big lovely. Let's get straight down to the old nitty gritty. What's your favourite play?
HK: ‘There were no cucumbers in the market this morning... not even for ready money” It has to be The Importance of Being Earnest for me. I’ve seen so many productions, two having been in my garden. I’m not sure I’ll ever forget a coffin carrying the 'dead' Ernest being hoist aloft by cast members, and then used as a coffee table for the remainder of the play... and in the same production Cecily had a wonderful lisp which I thought was a splendid character choice.
However, I also LOVE Peter Shaffer’s Black Comedy, what a hoot.
And your favourite film is?
Well... anyone that really knows me knows I have an undying love for the film adaptation of Oliver!
(and a cheeky 'thing' for Shani Wallis ;-) )
The words you're looking for are 'massive crush'...
Lol... so, anyway... Oliver!...
Well, it started out as a guilty pleasure, but now I’ve come to accept that my love for it won’t pass. I watched it daily from about the age 6, and it was taped over the end of an episode of Songs of Praise...
(ah, home taping... the younger generation will never know the struggles...)
... pahahaha... so, everyday I had to wait for Aled to say 'goodbye' and for the last verse of ‘O God, our help in ages past...’ before we could get onto Bart’s fabulous overture... and come on... that ‘Who Will Buy’ scene... and Shani... (sigh)
Ahhhh.... my true love. Well this changes daily to be honest. Les Mis will always have a special place in my heart as it was the first production I was involved in. I adore Sweeney Todd, I think that score is just sublime. I think the genius of the Anthony Drewe’s Lyrics and George Stiles’ music in Betty Blue Eyes is so effervescent. I studied ALW’s Cats in great detail at Conservatoire - and await the new film with baited breathe... Calamity Jane also brings back great memories - ‘Make mine a sarsaparilla...’
… just a little bit of a fan, then?
...I'll challenge you at QuizUp if you don't believe me ;-)
Blimey these are hard questions... I love Olivia Colman in
everything she does. I was a true fan, way before all these
muggles started liking her after The Favourite.
Her performance in Tyrannosaur is just heart-breaking.
And I’ll never forget her cameo in Skins.
Ben Whishaw - having done quite a bit of voice acting now, I think he’s wonderful in Paddington, so characterful. His portrayal of Norman Scott in A Very English Scandal was superb, as well. Let's face it, he doesn't put a foot wrong.
Audra Macdonald - the most prolific Tony award winner ever (six awards) - who I saw in Lady Day At Emerson Bar and Grill at the Wyndham’s. This was basically a 90 min monologue with a few songs to break it up and it was, for me, the best performance I’ve ever seen on stage. How she can manipulate her voice to be able to imitate Billie Holliday, and also sing the role of Carrie in R&H’s Carousel is mind-blowing. I love her rendition of ‘When I Marry, Mister Snow’ ... and ... and also she played Grace Farrell in the 1999 Disney Adaptation of Annie and her reprise of 'Tomorrow' is to die for.
“The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours.”
It is, of course, the incomparable Alan Bennett.
Favourite of your own works?
Easy. Brass by Benjamin Till.
I have a long history with this show. Brass is the story of a WWI based Leeds brass band who all join up to fight in France. The show flips between the trenches and the munitions factory that the women the lads have left behind, go to work for. Whilst the Leeds Pals are away, the women decide to learn the instruments the men have left behind. It’s a story of loss, love, music and courage. The show was commissioned by The National Youth Music Theatre and I was part of the original company, playing in the pit and then recording the original cast recording. I was then cast as an actor musician in the revival in 2016 at the Hackney Empire.
A year later, I produced, directed and musically directed a semi staged, concert version for my degree. I got a first. Huzzah! I love this musical.
(reader: I saw Harry's version. It was in-cred-i-ble)
and here (right) are - some of - the fan club, lurking around the mean
streets of Brum, after the performance.
Favourite person to work with?
This is where I’m supposed to say Rebecca Vines, right?
(well - stifled sob - to be honest, yeah...)
It has to be Alison Steadman.
(er... okay... rude...
just kidding, I love Alison Steadman)
Alison has played my Grandma in two series of a radio play by Richard Herring called Relativity. And we’ve just been recommissioned for a third. (Yay!)
I ADORE Abigail’s Party so Alison is one of my big idols. Relativity was one of my very first professional jobs and I had been cast, the day after I’d finished Brass In Concert, so I was still studying. I turned up to the table read, having an inkling there might a couple of big names present. When Alison walked in, I died. Cue quick texts to Mother. ‘F*CK, Alison Steadman is playing my Grandma’ ! The first episode opened with a 15 min duologue between herself and Phil Davis. Masterclass.
I recently filmed a weeks long storyline for EastEnders and I was sharing a trailer with Timothy Bentinck, who plays David Archer in The Archers. That was another 'pinch me' moment - he was also lovely.
I also had lunch with Timothy West, whilst we were recording audiobooks together in adjacent studios. Tim is partial to a chicken and avocado wrap from Pret.
Sweeney Todd. It’s very hard to find any roles for bass/baritones in Musical Theatre at the age of 24. When I’m 40, I’ll be fine! I’d also love to play Algernon in Earnest. And the curate in Call The Midwife.
I’m also very interested in TV presenting at the moment... I wonder if there's anything going on Songs of Praise??
Heck, I just want to do it all!
Advice to your 14 year old self?
Be yourself. Everyone else is taken. You will come out of this - although it feels bloody hard at times. You will cry yourself to sleep at times but you can do this.
In my final week of Upper Sixth, I went to speak to someone and said ‘I feel I’ve missed the boat for going into acting now, I’ve not done any at school and I wish I had’. She said: ‘It’s never too late.’
That person was Rebecca Vines.
Aw, okay... that got me. I'm not crying... you're crying.
(btw, do you like the way I split that line up from the rest of the paragraph
to give it some extra drama?)
… and here's a cheeky pic. of me with Haz at the 2018 WWI Commemoration
show I wrote and directed for Dean Close School.
Fantasy dinner party (you get five guests, living or dead)
Eddie Redmayne - I used to speak to Eddie quite a bit after he’d contacted
the Trans Community to help him with The Danish Girl. It would be a good
way to get back in touch.
Julie Andrews - I mean, what a woman.
Harvey Milk - I think he’d like Julie.
Jessie Buckley - I fancy her. Thankfully, Eddie is married, so he won't give me any competition. Also she can sing ‘The Man That Got Away’, whilst we eat After Eights.
Judas Iscariot - I think he gets a really bad press.
Joan Littlewood - top lass. Oh balls, how many people is that?
Agatha Christie - can I have Agatha as well?
Bollocks. We're going to need a bigger table...
Brass - August 2014, NYMT
Harry on All Together Now, BBC1, April 2019
Brass - August 2016, Hackney Empire
The Relativity cast
EastEnders, April 2019
Brass - February 2017, Birmingham