Entertainment » Theatre

Randy Harrison :: From 'Queer as Folk' to 'Cabaret'

by Joe Siegel
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Wednesday Jan 27, 2016

Randy Harrison, who appeared in the hit LGBTQ drama "Queer as Folk," plays the Emcee in the new national touring production of "Cabaret" at the Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC) through Sunday, January 31.

Andrea Goss, a veteran of the Broadway production of "Cabaret," returns to the role of Sally Bowles, the cabaret chanteuse made famous by Liza Minnelli in the musical's 1972 film version.

The cast also features Shannon Cochran as Fraulein Schneider, Alison Ewingas Fraulein Kost, Mark Nelson as Herr Schultz, Ned Noyes as Ernst Ludwig and Lee Aaron Rosen as Clifford Bradshaw.

Harrison was a fan of "Cabaret" and jumped at the chance to play the Emcee.

"It's my job to engage the audience," Harrison told EDGE. "To entertain them, to draw them in. It's really liberating. I think it's going to be really exciting to play it on tour."

The score of "Cabaret" was written by famed composers John Kander and Fred Ebb, whose work Harrison admires greatly.

"The music is brilliant," Harrison said. "Everyone knows these songs."

The creative team for "Cabaret" features some big names behind the scenes. The director is Sam Mendes ("Spectre"), and the co-director and choreographer is Rob Marshall ("Chicago").

"Cabaret" is set in the infamous Kit Kat Klub, where the Emcee, Sally Bowles and a raucous ensemble take the stage nightly to tantalize the crowd -- and to leave their troubles outside.

The show premiered on Broadway in 1966 and won eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

Harrison admits to being fascinated with the show's setting of Berlin during World War II, particularly the arts scene in the war-torn city.

"I think on top of being entertaining, (the show is) really important and compelling and asks significant questions about how things happened politically and socially," Harrison said.

Harrison grew up in Nashua, New Hampshire and developed a love of theatre from seeing shows in Boston.

From that point on, Harrison knew he wanted to be an actor.

He starred in "Wicked" on Broadway and appeared in several off-Broadway and regional theatre productions, including "The Who's Tommy" and "Waiting for Godot."

"I have a big imagination," Harrison said. "I love pretending. I love becoming other people. I love imagining I'm living in different periods and different times."

Harrison's career took off when he landed the role of Justin on Showtime's "Queer as Folk." The show ran for
five years. Being on a highly promoted and controversial television program was a "mindblowing" experience, according to Harrison.

"That was a lot for me to handle," Harrison recalled. "It was really a huge and fast change."

Even though it has been off the air for more than a decade, "Queer as Folk" is still having an impact on LGBTQ audiences, Harrison noted.

"The show is reaching people now for the first time," Harrison said. "It always seems to reach people who need it, who felt alone until they saw it. I'm always hearing about people who were closeted and scared or living in a dangerous situation and ('Queer as Folk') made them feel strong enough to escape. That's a pretty extraordinary thing to have been a part of."

Tickets for Cabaret are on sale now at the PPAC Box Office (220 Weybosset Street in downtown Providence), online at www.ppacri.org and by phone at (401) 421-ARTS (2787). Tickets start at $44; all ticket prices include a $3 per ticket restoration charge and are subject to change without notice.

Joe Siegel has written for a number of other GLBT publications, including In newsweekly and Options.


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