David Harris is one of Australia's most talented leading men in theatre. He is currently starring as Emmett in the Australian production of Legally Blonde the Musical and has been kind enough to give BroadwayWorld.com some insight into his career, life and the rehearsal and previews process of Legally Blonde the Musical.
David is best known to Australian audiences for his critically acclaimed portrayal of Chris in Cameron Mackintosh's production of Miss Saigon and most recently played the role of Fiyero in the Australian and Asian tour of Wicked for which he received a Helpmann Award® nomination.
David grew up in the Hunter Valley in NSW and was not influenced by 'show biz' at an early age. It wasn't until his year 8 English teacher managed to 'rope' David into the school musical that he first began to start singing. He somewhat 'fell into musical theatre' after leaving his architecture degree in pursuit of singing jobs. Despite unsuccessful auditions for the leading Australian theatre courses, David auditioned for a 'little musical', The Boy From Oz, and received an ensemble role after someone dropped out.
"I'd like to thank that person"
It was the two years with The Boy From Oz that David calls his 'training ground' for the career ahead. There he was able to learn on the job from the impressive cast around him.
David made the tough call to move away from his family to Sydney to pursue his singing career where he worked as an usher at the Capitol Theatre during a run of Miss Saigon. David fell in love with the musical and dreamed of playing the role which years later became one of his most significant and treasured roles.
When asked if he had a favourite role he has played so far, David cited 3 for varying reasons:
"Chris from Miss Saigon. I always loved the musical and it was a great meaty role but the reality of eight shows a week was tough… it was at the top of my vocal range and an emotional show… its took a big toll but was the most rewarding"
"After seeing Wicked on Broadway, I wanted to be in that show so to play Fiyero was ticking off a dream"
"Then there's The Boy From Oz, I always thank my lucky stars and look back fondly on my time in that show"
Now of course, it's all about playing the role of Emmett in the Australian production of Legally Blonde. David had never seen the show prior to the announcement of auditions but was wowed after watching YouTube clips of the show.
"I was attracted to the show because it looked like a ton of fun. Approaching work now is about picking product. Finding something that's going to be enjoyable eight times a week. It's a fun show and I love the role. "
After a past of painful audition processes, including seven auditions for Mamma Mia and years of auditioning on and off for Wicked, auditioning for Legally Blonde was 'pretty painless'. David flew to Melbourne to audition and after two days of auditioning there, and back in Adelaide, the role was his.
In between Wicked seasons, David was in the audience of Legally Blonde in London knowing he had the role of Emmett.
"It was high energy and looked like it would be as much fun off stage as on"
David was still in the cast of Wicked in Asia up until a week before rehearsal began. It wasn't until he was back in Sydney that he was able to have a quick look over everything for Legally Blonde.
"I need to be in the rehearsal room on the rehearsal floor… I love leaving it to then so I can discover the role… Things will always change with other actors; it's the beauty of it. I always make sure I have some familiarisation with the script and songs but it's all about the rehearsal room"
The show is now in previews and the audience's reception is exceeding David's expectations.
"It wasn't until we had a full audience Friday night and onwards with the general public that we were able to get the full effect of the show. They have been laughing at the right spots, laughing in places we didn't expect laughs… we are able to try new things and react, it's continual change… it's an exciting period"
The theatre is often known to be a place of superstition with performers having unique rituals or lucky charms, for David it's menthols.
"I have a ritual of having a strong menthol fishermans friend before every show. I've done so for years since Saigon where I used to have one at the same point in the overture. "