This is the last In Profile I will write before Christmas Day is upon us, that wonderful day of family fun and feasting… and presents of course. We may preach to our children that Christmas isn’t about the presents, but let’s face it; you’re never too old to get excited about presents. I’ve always loved this time of year, and as I have a daughter who is still young enough to believe in Santa and the magic of Christmas, it’s become even more special to me. Not everyone loves Christmas however. Some people fail to be touched by the magic, wallowing in bitterness, loneliness, grief, self-pity, or perhaps just too well protected behind that hard wall of ice they’ve built around their heart for protection against a world that continually causes pain and disappointment. When Charles Dickens wrote his 1843 novel A Christmas Carol, he created a character that would last forever as the iconic Anti-Christmas miser and spawned the name all other misers would be known by: Scrooge. Ebenezer Scrooge is the wealthy, but stingy and hard-hearted man, who is given the chance to mend his ways when he is visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future on Christmas Eve. His utterance of ‘Bah humbug!’ has ingrained itself in our modern society and this story of Christmas redemption is a beloved classic that has stood the test of time and continues to inspire. There have been numerous film and stage adaptions, one of which – the musical Scrooge – is currently bringing a little joy at Christmas time in the West End. Currently playing at the London Palladium, Scrooge stars former pop icon Tommy Steele as ‘Scrooge’ and has also been given the Christmas gift of a highly talented cast, which includes Kieron Harris; ensemble member and this week’s featured In Profile actor.
Harris is an alumni of the Guildford School of Acting (GSA) which has produced such renowned stage and screen stars as Bill Nighy, Caroline Sheen, Michael Ball, Simon Lipkin, Helena Blackman and Daniel Boys, to name a few. He graduated from the school in 1995 with a diploma in Musical Theatre and subsequently made the permanent move to London. Born and bred in West Dorset, Harris took his first steps on the path to the West End by taking GCSE Performing Arts and was afterwards told by his teacher that he “would never make it” pursuing a career in performing arts and advised not to continue to A-Level. He nonetheless went ahead and studied BTEC Performing Arts at Weymouth College before gaining entry to the GSA.
Harris’ first post-training stage appearance came at the hands of the age-old British tradition of pantomime at the York Theatre Royal. He has performed in numerous productions at the venue over the years, including Cinderella, Mother Goose, Dick Whittington, Old Mother Milly and Beauty and the Beast. His most notable theatre credits to date are playing the lead role of ‘Craig’ in the UK tour of play Ladies Night and ‘Gad/Pharaoh’ in Bill Kenwright’s UK tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. His other work includes: ‘Raim’ in Queen and the Rebels (Mill Theatre, Guildford), ‘John Perks’ in The Railway Children (Charles Cryer Theatre, Carshalton), ‘Cord Elam’ in Oklahoma (Aberystwyth Arts Centre), ‘Solo Dancer’ (Intel Pentium World Conference) and performing for the ENO.
He joined the company of the national tour of Scrooge the Musical, performing alongside Shane Richie Michael Barrymore and Tommy Steele, and now he is making his West End debut in the revived production at the Palladium. He plays ‘Bisset the Butcher’, as well as several other ensemble characters, and said of his role in the show in an interview with a hometown newspaper: “It’s a nice little part and I’m in all the scenes, all the numbers…I still get really nervous and I think I will especially with this job because it’s quite a biggie for me, the first West End show,” (Dorset Echo). He went on to describe his elation at finally getting the chance to perform in front of West End audiences, saying that: “I have reached a pinnacle of my career where I can say ‘I’ve done it’.”
For someone who was once told to give up on his dream of performing on stage, Harris has certainly proven he was right to ignore that advice and pursue his passion as it has led him all the way to a role in a hit West End musical, a feat that unfortunately not everyone manages to achieve. He doesn’t hold his former teacher’s words against him though; quite the opposite.
“When someone tells you that you can’t do something you find alternative methods to reach your goals…years later I’m finally getting to do what I wanted to do in one of the best theatres in the world, so thanks to him I have ended up where I am.”
Harris has accrued an impressive list of varied theatre credits and is currently living out his long-held dream in Scrooge the Musical at the London Palladium. Just as they say in the Big Apple: if he can make it there, then he can surely make it anywhere, and I, for one, look forward to seeing just where he goes next. Life is what you make it and Kieron Harris has certainly made something of himself and stands as a Christmas inspiration to others facing similar obstacles and choices. I wish him the best of luck in his career and to everyone reading this, I wish you a very merry Christmas: “God bless us, Every one.”
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Saturday 22nd December