Harris loves everything about life on stage; star of BAZ Star Crossed Love in Las Vegas
By Deb Silverthorn
Special to the TJP
What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas but the kvell factor for Dallas native Olivia Harris, who is starring in BAZ Star Crossed Love at The Palazzo Resort Hotel Casino until Dec. 18, is definitely spreading.
“This is incredible and I’m so honored to be in this show — it’s really a lot to live up to,” said Harris about her portrayal of Daisy in BAZ; she is just off a run of Scorsese at The Wallis Annenberg in Los Angeles, and producing her next album, and she calls all of the above a dream. “Everyone who has preceded me in this role has gone on to Broadway or other great shows — true success and I’m so glad to be here.”
Harris is the daughter of Holly Kuper and the late Hugh Harris and the sister of Dylan. She has made the West Coast her home base since graduating from Carnegie Mellon University. The Akiba Academy and Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts graduate grew up at Congregation Tiferet Israel and has been writing and recording music, acting onstage and in films, and creating many of her own projects.
“I’m getting paid to sing and to act and to do what I love and there’s lots to be said for that,” said Harris. With no space to spare, she turned her Los Angeles-area apartment closet into a recording studio and took up painting, creating colorful abstract canvases, to decorate her abode. “It’s never been a dull moment and recently I’ve had a lot of really wonderful back-to-back opportunities. You never know when it will get quiet, and I hope it never does.”
Harris’ creative streak is her own but the spirit is most certainly hereditary. Her mother — long a photographer of simchas, portraits, events, editorial, advertising and more — is long embedded in Dallas’ Jewish community. It was watching her mother, self-employed, that made an impression on Harris as a young child and continues to propel her inspiration.
“I learned from the time I was a very young girl, watching my mom who has always had her own business, how to work hard, to push forward and to make it happen,” said Harris, who as a 17-year-old was one of 30 students from across the United States to participate in the 2009 Grammy Jazz Ensemble. Her resume is growing:
She sang backup on Josh Goldberg’s recently released One album; starred in the 2012 film The Playroom; was in the 2014 film Processing and 2015’s The Trans-Former; and spent a month on the high seas in a Norwegian Cruise Line production of The Brat Pack. For Harris, there are a number of soon-to-be announced projects on the horizon. “This career takes a lot of ‘want’ and a lot of passion. I’ve learned from the best how to give my all of both.”
Kuper has cheered her daughter along the way from preschool programs at Akiba to stage, screen, and the 2016 release of Lonestar Heart, Harris’ EP, a mix of alternative pop with a splash of jazz and neo-soul, with influences like Erykah Badu, Jeff Buckley, Betty Carter, Ella Fitzgerald, Joni Mitchell, Sarah Vaughan and Amy Winehouse.
“Olivia can memorize a part in hours and that’s been great for her as she’s filled in when an actress has gotten sick on opening night and when another was hurt — she can be ready to perform in nothing flat and she’s so professional. My kid, this little girl and now this really unbelievable woman, she’s something else,” said Kuper, who has captured her daughter’s success — frame by frame, literally. “Proud doesn’t begin to express how I feel.”
Kuper had seen many variations of the Romeo and Juliet theme before but watching her daughter last year in the role of Juliet in the same show she’s playing now, but at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, brought tears to her eyes.
“She performed it how I know Shakespeare intended his words to be shared,” said Kuper. “Literally, I was crying at the maturity and how quickly I forgot I was watching my daughter, and felt sure I was with ‘Juliet.’ She’s so able, so capable, and she’s really taking care of herself and her career.”
“Olivia has always been special, talented, and gifted and she has always embraced her talent and it was a lot of fun to see her on the stage,” said Jacob Cohen, who, at the time he was cantor at Tiferet Israel, prepared Harris for her bat mitzvah. “She owned the responsibilities then of a bat mitzvah — not wanting to ‘just get it done,’ but to learn and have it be meaningful. Double the lifetime later I was in Vegas on business and there she was. We connected and I couldn’t have been more proud to watch her; she really was spectacular and I’d recommend anyone able to see her live, do so.”
Harris’ journey is writing itself and her commitment to success is persistent. “Nothing is pure luck.”
“Texas, I miss you again, your warm rain feels like an old friend,” sings Harris in Lonestar Heart, the title track of the album which includes I Won’t Tell, A Light Thing, Stay, Honey and Morning Sun. Her favorite photographer, Mom, of course shot the album cover photos of the singer. “Oh, how things have changed, oh how we have changed, but my Lonestar heart is always true, my Lonestar heart is made of you.”
This Lonestar lady is a star everywhere she goes – today Vegas, tomorrow …
For BAZ Star Crossed Love ticket information, visit bit.ly/2fwbTd9 or call 866-641-7469. Olivia Harris’ album can be purchased and information on her career can be found at oliviaharrisperforms.com and she can be followed on Twitter,