Kyle Harris: from soccer to acting
Everything started because of a girl. Kyle Harris grew up as a soccer player and that is what he did since he was able to walk. But he met a girl who was trying out for the high school musical “Grease” and convinced him to be a part of it, portraying Eugene, a school nerd.
After that first acting, he started a career in the Broadway world. He portrayed Claude in Hair, Tony in West Side Story, and he was a part of Sondheim on Sondheim, among others.
But Kyle also appeared on the TV show “The Carrie Diaries” as Seth, a Princeton freshman who dated Carrie’s friend Mouse. And he hopes to come back in the future.
In a conversation with The Outsider Argentina, Kyle spoke about his beginning in acting, his experience in Broadway and the projects in the web series “It could be worse” and “High Maintenance”.
How did you start acting?
A girl. I grew up as a soccer player. From club to the high school team, Soccer was my life ever since I was able to walk. Until I met “the one”, or so I thought. We’re no longer together, but I’m still acting, so… thanks? She was trying out for the high school musical, Grease, at the time and convinced me that it would be a great way to “spend more time together.” I auditioned fairly confident, thinking a jock type, like myself, would be able to walk in and do the musical, no problem. I was cast as Eugene. The school nerd. I wanted to quit. I went from thinking I’d be a dude in the spotlight and a leather jacket, singing Grease Lightning to Steve Urkel. It’s when I got on stage that I realized I had the capability to make people laugh, that the idea of playing the cool guy wasn’t nearly as fun and I had only begun to tap into a talent I knew was going to take me places, soccer never could.
How did you get into the “Broadway world”? How was your experience there?
I moved to New York City in 2009 shortly after graduating from the University of Arizona. Like most, I started my career juggling auditions while trying to maintain a day job as a waiter. A few months later I was cast in the Broadway musical, Sondheim on Sondheim. It was an unbelievable experience getting to work alongside the likes of Stephen Sondheim, James Lapine & Vanessa Williams. The show ran at Studio 54 where I coincidentally saw my first Broadway show, so it was pretty surreal having it all come full circle.
In an interview you’ve said that “playing Claude in Hair is the one I could have done forever”, what made this character so special? What did he mean for your career?
I think at the time Claude was very special to me and still is. His ideas and free spirit sort of mirrored my own at the time. I had just graduated college, and was ready to fearlessly take on New York. Our first day of rehearsal happened to be the day Obama was elected his first term as president which really just fueled the show’s theme for change that much more. Something written so many years ago was again relevant and for the first time in my career I was able to see the power of live theatre take an effect on live audiences.
Playing “Tony” in the musical production of West Side Story was an important thing in your career too; did you feel that portraying the main character was a responsibility?
Of course. It’s a classic. Everyone’s seen the movie, so everyone has an opinion on how it should be done. The job itself is always your responsibility, but to honor and respect the work and material, eight times a week on the road, was an even greater one. Getting to personally work with Arthur Laurents, the writer of West Side Story on what ended up being his last staged production of it before he passed, was an unfathomable privilege for me and was and still is the biggest weight I have ever had to carry, but one I never took for granted. You quickly learned by how difficult, yet rich the material was, why it has survived so many years and deemed a classic. To me, it’s the best piece of theatre ever created and I am forever grateful to have done it in its capacity.
How do you prepare yourself before a show?
Chipotle. Only sort of kidding. Vocal rest after shows, a warm up before shows and a quick reminder to myself of what city I’m in. Traveling week to week got kind of confusing and figuring out a new backstage every other week, really kept us on our toes.
How did you get the opportunity of being in “The Carrie Diaries”?
I auditioned for the role and lucky enough for me it said they were looking for an “Adam Brody” type. Having believably forged an autograph as Adam to a couple of tweens in my home town at one point, (true story) had me feeling pretty confident that I would be pretty close to what they were looking for.
Do you think that your character can come back in the future?
I hope so! Fingers crossed! I had such an unbelievable experience working with everyone involved from cast to crew that if only for the chance to see them again! This season they graduate from Castleburry High and who knows? Maybe Mouse decides she wants to go to Princeton and rekindles and old flame with Seth? I’ve clearly thought this plot line out…
Coming from Broadway, how was the experience of filming for a TV show?
It was definitely eye opening. It really resonated with me in a different way than live theatre, but one in which I hope to make a life long career out of. If only for the craft services…
You’ve also worked in a TV mini-series this year, called “It could be worse”, what can you tell us about it?
It Could Be Worse is a great web series featuring many actors in the Broadway community. It’s always inspiring to see your piers creating new opportunities for themselves. Another web series created by actors in the business that I had the privilege of working on and highly recommend; HIGH MAINTENANCE. You can check them out here at http://www.helpingyoumaintain.com
Which other projects do you have for this year?
Life. One day at a time. It’s the best never ending project that I get to star in.