Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Spotlight On...James Harvey

Name: James Harvey

Hometown: Short Hills, New Jersey

Education: I graduated from New York University in 2014 with a Bachelor’s degree in music composition.

Favorite Credits: My senior year at NYU, I had the great pleasure of playing Dan in Next to Normal. It was a thrill because it was my first acting experience and that piece has had a huge impact on me (I steal from it liberally in my show).

Why theater?: Before I was into musical theatre, I was into something slightly less socially acceptable: magic. I noticed the connection between these things, besides making me unpopular, is that they are both forms that acknowledge their own artifice. A magician says he’s going to trick you and then does just that. There’s nothing phonier than theatre, specifically musical theater, with its flat painted scenery, microphones creeping out of wigs and people breaking out into song. But it still works sometimes, despite the these things. I like trying to make people suspend their disbelief.

Tell us about The Crack in the Ceiling: The Crack in the Ceiling is a musical about a single mother whose home is literally broken, and how that affects her relationship with her son. It’s a very dark comedy. Tragicomic.  Is that a good word?

What inspired you to write The Crack in the Ceiling: I grew up with just my mom and sister and when I was eighteen years old our kitchen ceiling collapsed twice, inexplicably. It struck me as a very theatre of the absurd kind of moment and I started inventing the wildest versions of that situation. It’s a very personal show but the elements of autobiography end there.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I like theater that justifies itself being on a stage, as opposed to on a screen. Something like Fun Home, where you can have three versions of the same character inhabiting the same space, which you can’t really do in any other medium. I also like people flying on stage.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: So many people! I think Bo Burnham has a musical in him and that we would compliment each other well. Just putting that into the universe.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: I saw The Flick by Annie Baker a few weeks ago and I’m still thinking about it constantly. I never thought I could be so bored by something and still be so captivated it.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Channing Tatum in “Delusions of Grandeur”

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: I would love to see the original Off-Broadway production of Little Shop of Horrors. Feel those vines fall on me.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Taking long showers that waste water. But it’s where I do most of my writing so it’s kind of a business expense. And I like to shave my head in there. You know what? I don’t feel guilty at all. Get off my back!

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: I’d fix crime scenes, specializing in yacht murders.

What’s up next?: I’m writing a musical based on the documentary "The Queen of Versailles", with a very talented playwright from the BMI Workshop, which I am a member of.

For more on The Crack in the Ceiling, visit