Of course, as in most one-person shows, Harris tells his story through song, with the help of accompanist and musical director Todd Schroeder. The show has a nice blending of original songs and Broadway classics like Don’t Rain on My Parade, I Am Changing, and the tune that made him famous, Somewhere Over the Rainbow. It’s all performed in that inimitable Harris way.
Ultimately the question is, should you see Ham: A Musical Memoir? I’ll start by saying the movie’s appeal is very narrow. If you hate anything musical, yeah, skip it. Harris’ show will not convert you. On the other hand, if you love everything Broadway, then yes, see Ham. You’ll have a great time with Harris and his fun, light, and poignant story.
“…had a fun time walking through Sam Harris’ life…”
Now, what about everyone in-between, like me? Honestly, I was drawn to Ham because I remember Harris from his big Star Search win, but then he faded away after his first album into the world of stage and theater… or what we West-Coasters call “oblivion.” Thankfully, there are enough songs in the show that I recognized to maintain my interest, and really can Harris perform.
“Ham” is also a great title, and a smart one too because boy can Harris ham it up. If you’ve ever seen Fred Armisen lampoon one-person shows on SNL, there were plenty of moments when I kept thinking about the way stage performers monologue and flash in-and-out of character at break-neck speed. Harris leans heavily into these stage devices. In the end, I had a fun time walking through Sam Harris’ life because I knew him from long ago, and clearly, so did the audience. I’m just not sure if this is enough to bring in a broader audience.
Not living in New York and not having tons of cash to throw around, I wish other plays and musicals on and off-Broadway would record and film early on with its original casts. There’s a bigger world of storytelling that should be shared across the globe, like Ham: A Musical Memoir, and not live and die in New York City. Diving into Sam Harris’ life was fun, and you will have fun too… unless you hate musicals.
"…faded away...into the world of stage and theater…or what we West-Coasters call 'oblivion.'""