Hugo Harold Harrison recently finished a run in Pricilla Queen Of The Desert. We chat to Hugo about life now the show has closed and what's next!
Where are you originally from?
(laughs) Sorry, it's just that this story always makes my friends smile because everyone knows the "schpiel" I have to say to that question (by heart) and it takes five minutes to explain.
(takes a big breath) My mom is French, my dad is English (originally from Mauritius) and I grew up in an International school in Belgium. I have dual citizenship. Occaionally I like to use the term "Generican" or "Faux-merican" because for some reason the accent I picked up in the American system has stuck, eventhough I am celebrating my 15th year in London this year. I arrived in October 1997 and worked at the Haagen Dazs cafe in Leicester Sqaure.
How long did you appear in Priscilla for?
I was very lucky to have been part of such an iconic show as Priscilla at the Palace for two contracts. It was really an exciting place to work and an incredible experience to be involved with. From the set to the costumes and the buzz the show created to the wonderful message it sent out; it was a show I was very proud to be associated with. The Palace is one of those buidlings that you pass a lot when in Soho and so many times as a student I remember hoping I might one day work there and ten years later, I did! Very grateful.
Was it sad to be a part of the final performance?
For sure. There was high emotion at the final few shows in that last week and you could feel this wall of sound hitting you. The support and love was honestly palpable! But yeah the final audience was unbelievable. Just about every number had a roaring ovation at the end of it and the double whammy that it was New Year's Eve made it all the more electric. We had had such an exhausting week towards the end of the run so we were all emotional as it was, but to sing those songs for the last time was surreal. The entire cast and crew held hands and hugged in the wings during the final rendition of "We Belong". I don't think I got a single note out! But I would say rather than sadness, my overwhelming feeling was a real sense of gratitude to have been a part of it while it lasted!
How is life after Pricilla?
Pretty cool thanks. I've really enjoyed the down time after the run of such a physical show. You start appreciating all the things that you don't get to do when you work nights as well, like cooking at home and seeing friends in the evening and on weekends. Then you start getting itchy feet and I found I had to head to the gym to get rid of some of the extra energy I wasn't using at work. And you get reinspired by new musicals and find your "bug" again. I do quite a lot of voice overs on the side so that keeps me busy too. I am currently recording the second series of The Amazing World of Gumball for the Cartoon Network, which is the most fun hour's work EVER. It's basically playing around and doing silly voices in a recording studio, which is kind of what I've been doing in my room alone since I was about six!
What's next for you?
I am about to start rehearsals for Hair but I can't say much more on that, at the moment!
Viola Davis said at her SAG awards speech: "Everytime I start a new job, I feel like I start with a clean slate. I feel like I've never done anything before. Everyone's going to find me out to be the hack that I am!" And I can relate to that. In our industry, after every job, you start over. Back to auditioning, back to seeing what's out there, and back to challenging yourself to new opportunities. And that's the great and unsettling part of the biz. It's the yoyo side to the profession I find the most challenging to be honest. I have found as I have gotten older that you have to keep as many plates spinning at once, as you can. Even if you have a job, there is always something you could be doing to make your career move forward in different directions. Trying every aspect the profession has to offer, opening your horizons, and leaving no rock unturned. I just hope one day I can settle down with a family and a dog and feel that it was all worth it cause it can be a hard slog to get there!
Are you looking forward to life on the road?
I really like seeing the UK and travelling in general, it's in my blood. Although living out of a suitcase can be tough, you stay positive and grateful to be in work. Especially with a show like Hair, you are spreading a really great message around the country with what looks like a great cast so that makes it more exciting!
How do you feel about the nudity in HAIR?
I'll get back to you in a couple of months. I am not sure how I feel about it yet. In theory I am okay with it. In practice, who knows?! It's all part of the hippie experience!
What's been your career highlight so far?
Playing Nick in Fame (Aldwych Theatre, 2003) was pretty awesome. It was my first West End gig and I was one of the leads so it was like my childhood dreams had come true. I'll always remember opening night: getting flowers and seeing all my friends and family afterwards at stage door. Was one of the most overwhelming feelings ever!
Where do you hope you will be 5 years from now?
I would love to try and go back to TV and film. That's where I started when I was a kid in Belgium. I was in a film called Toto Le Heros (Golden Camera Award at Cannes Film Festival, 1991) when I was twelve which lead on to lots of other work in TV and voice overs over there. I would really like to go back to what made me want to do this as a job: acting! My dream for as long as I can remember, was to be in a period drama and die on screen haha! Go figure, maybe it was a premonition! Fingers crossed.
What is important to you in life when your not on stage?
Family, friends, food, and films. Hey, they all start with an "F". Oh and dogs!
What a great guy! Thanks for your time Hugo. If you want to know more about Hugo then please use the links below.
Stage Status Profile: Hugo Harold-Harrison