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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    From a Wildcat to a Jet

    From a Wildcat to a Jet
    Photographer:Jason Campbell

    Kyle Harris was an athlete in high school, until he followed a girl to the Arizona Repertory Theatre at the UA. Now he is ending a one-year stint as Tony in a national touring Broadway production of “West Side Story”.

    As a soccer player, he came to the UA to see his girlfriend in a production of “Guys and Dolls” in 2004.

    “I was blown away. I grew up as an athlete and a soccer player,” Harris said. “I had no idea young people were so capable of doing professional work.”

    Harris said his reaction to the show was this: “It was like, ‘This is a college? This is a theater program in the desert? What?’ I didn’t expect any of this.”

    Later that year, he went to audition for the UA’s theater program. It only took 15 minutes for the panel to decide he was in.

    Four years and plenty of shows later, Harris graduated with Bachelor of Fine Arts in musical theater from the UA in 2008, and a week before graduation was casted in a show in Florida.

    “It was exciting. I was already on my way to becoming a professional actor before I had graduated,” Harris said.

    Harris couldn’t stay away from Arizona for long. After living in New York City for a month after the run of the Florida show, he saw Arizona Theater Company doing a rendition of “Hair” and jumped on board.

    Soon, though, he was back in New York City, back to a pastime of many a struggling actor — a waiter.

    And then there was Tony.

    Premiering last September in Detroit, Harris is now on the last few stops of the national tour of “West Side Story” when the show stops in Tucson later this month, showcasing a cast that won a Grammy for Best Musical Show Album last year. He’s Tony.

    “I just owe it all to the teachers and the experience to shape my career,” Harris said. “I think I had a lot of raw talent, it just needed to be honed, to be guided and polished.”

    Harris said he’s most excited for things to come full circle — to share with his teachers and other students who came to see him in UA theater now get to see him professionally act and sing in “West Side Story.”

    “It’s kind of my thank you card to Tucson,” Harris said.

    Harris said he hopes to go back to New York with this credit on his resume and work on musical theater. He said he wants to eventually end up back in his home state of California, channeling his work on the stage into a film and TV career.

    And for people trying to make it like him, Harris has one piece of advice: Be willing to starve for what you love.

    “It’s the highest highs and the lowest low, and if you can get through the lowest lows and still have an appreciation for what you are doing, then you are meant to do it,” Harris said.

    See Harris and company at the Tucson Music Hall for eight shows beginning on Sept. 20.

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