February 3, 1964 |
Ann Harada (born February 3, 1964) is an American New York-based actress who is best known for the musical Avenue Q in which she originated the role of Christmas Eve, the heavily accented Japanese therapist.
Harada was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. She was raised in Hawaii and attended the Punahou School and Brown University. She was active in theatre from high school. After college, she moved to New York and, anticipating working in production, worked with producer Suzanne Schwartz. Finding stage production not completely satisfactory, she performed with the New York City Gay Men's Chorus as a vocalist, performed cabaret, and appeared in the Broadway production of M. Butterfly.
Harada earned her Equity Card in 1987 when she was cast in Maury Yeston and Larry Gelbart's 1,2,3,4,5 at Manhattan Theatre Club. She is a member of the Vineyard Theatre's Community of Artists and appeared in four original musicals there, including Hit the Lights!.
In 1998, Harada starred in the National Asian American Theatre Company's highly praised All-Asian production of William Finn's Falsettoland. Peter Marks of The New York Times described her rendition of "Holding to the Ground" as a "full-throttle success". Also in 1998, Harada had a small part in the Todd Solondz film Happiness as one of the co-workers of Jane Adams's character.
Harada was in the original Broadway company of the legendary flop Seussical in 2000. She had also been in its first workshop and all of the pre-Broadway iterations of that show. About her experience she said "It was such a roller-coaster ride — everything that could go wrong went wrong. You'd just show up to work every day and go, 'I wonder what's going to happen today.'...There was way too much drama for one show to take, and it didn't deserve that kind of drama because it's really a great little show. . . . I loved it, and I still love it. . . I just keep thinking about what it was like doing that first workshop and us all just being so blown away by it and being so excited."
Harada was involved in Avenue Q since the first performance of the show at the York Theatre in 2000. Lyricist Amanda Green had recommended Harada to Avenue Q writers Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx. She opened Avenue Q at the Vineyard Theatre in New York in March 2003 and moved with the show to Broadway that July. She took a break for maternity leave in late 2004, returning in early 2005. Her son is named Elvis. Harada left the Broadway company of Avenue Q on 26 February 2006. Her role was taken over by Ann Sanders. In June 2006, she opened the London production of Avenue Q at the Noël Coward Theatre in the West End. She played her last performance on 18 November 2006; the role was taken over by Naoko Mori. She is the only actress who played the role of Christmas Eve in both the Broadway and London productions of Avenue Q.
About her performance in the Broadway production, Ben Brantley wrote in The New York Times: "Counseling the romantically troubled Kate, she temporarily drops her habitually pinched voice to deliver, in the show's wittiest coup de théâtre, a full-throated ballad in the manner of a 1950's musical diva...The more you love someone/The more you want to kill him, Christmas sings in a shivery, rafters-shaking alto. And though you can construe the song as a satire if you choose, there is no doubt that Christmas means every word she sings." Hilton Als, in The New Yorker, in another rave for the show, noted that Avenue Q "has so much to recommend it...But not to single out the remarkable Ann Harada — a funny girl who can sing, act, and let the audience in on the joke all at the same time — would be a mistake."
On July 6, 2009, Harada returned as part of the final Broadway cast of Avenue Q. The show closed on September 13, 2009. A September 15 New York Times article stated the show would relocate to an Off-Broadway location, and resume production October 3.
Harada has reprised the character of Christmas Eve for a series of one-night-only benefits for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS entitled Christmas Eve with Christmas Eve. The premise is that Christmas Eve (the night) is when all of the fantasies of Christmas Eve (the character) come true and all of those fantasies involve singing duets with Broadway leading men in ways that hysterically reinterpret well-known showtunes. The third annual Christmas Eve with Christmas Eve was on 12 December 2011.  The fourth Christmas Eve with Christmas Eve will be held on 2 December 2013. Harada's guests for 2013 include Cinderella's Santino Fontana, Max von Essen and Smash co-stars Leslie Odom, Jr. and Wesley Taylor. 
After Avenue Q
On April 24, 2007, Harada joined the Broadway company of Les Misérables playing Madame Thénardier; she replaced the British actress Jenny Galloway. Harada left Les Misérables on October 30, 2007, replaced by Galloway.
Harada rejoined Avenue Q star John Tartaglia as a guest star on his television show Johnny and the Sprites. Harada sings the Laurence O'Keefe song "Everything Must Go" on an episode entitled "The Sprites Save Grotto's Grove". It premiered on the Disney Channel on 22 March 2008.
She was in the original cast of the Dolly Parton musical 9 to 5 (based on the film of the same name) as Kathy and in the ensemble through June 21, 2009. She left to return to the cast of Avenue Q.
She appeared as Linda, the stage manager of the show-within-a-show, in eighteen episodes of NBC's musical drama Smash alongside Debra Messing, Anjelica Huston, Jack Davenport and her 9 to 5 colleague Megan Hilty.
From January 2013 to December 2014, she has appeared in the Broadway premiere of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella as the stepsister Charlotte. In the original company she worked alongside Laura Osnes as Cinderella, Victoria Clark as the Fairy Godmother, Harriet Harris played her mother, Cinderella's stepmother, and Marla Mindelle her sister, the other stepsister, Gabrielle.  In its review of the show, Variety said that Harada gives "a hoot of a perf". Scott Brown of New York, in his rave, wrote: "The score floods your brain with Rodgers’s stately, aching melodies, including the bewitching 'Ten Minutes Ago' and the clucking, catchy 'Stepsister’s Lament,' translated here into a go-for-broke chorus number centering on Harada. (If you only know Harada as stolid stage-manager Linda on Smash — and if you’re a faithful enough Smash alpha-viewer to fixate on such things — then you owe yourself this.) "
Harada was the star of her own installment of Lincoln Center's 2014 American Songbook series at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Allen Room in New York City on 22 February 2014. Her set included "OK, That's Ten" a very short, previously unheard song written by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman for her character on Smash.
Harada is currently in the cast of the new original musical Brooklynite, with Matt Doyle and Nick Cordero. The superhero show is scheduled to open its world premiere run at the Vineyard Theatre in New York on 25 February 2015.
Awards and Nominations
- 1998 National Board of Revenue, USA Best Acting by an Ensemble for Happiness 
- 2004 Broadway.com Audience Choice Award Favorite Featured Actress in a Broadway Musical for Avenue Q 
- 2003-2004 Outer Critics Circle Special Achievement Award for Outstanding Ensemble Performance and Puppet Artistry for Avenue Q 
- 2013 Broadway.com Audience Choice Award Nominee for Favorite Funny Performance for Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella 
- Portraits N.Y.: Ann Harada '81, Punahou Bulletin, Winter 2008. Retrieved March 1, 2012.
- "Sleight of Hand". ibdb.com. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
- "M. Butterfly Replacements". ibdb.com. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
- Harada, Ann. How I Got My Equity Card. Retrieved May 2, 2008.
- Ann Harada biography from Avenue Q UK production  Retrieved May 10, 2008.
- Marks, Peter. THEATER REVIEW; It's Family That Matters, No Matter What Family, The New York Times, July 17, 1998. Retrieved January 14, 2012.
- Gans, Andrew. DIVA TALK: Chatting with Les Miz Star Ann Harada Plus Betty Buckley at the Blue Note, Playbill, 27 July 2007. Retrieved September 8, 2007.
- Gans, Andrew. DIVA TALK: Catching Up with Avenue Q's Ann Harada; Family Night at the Cabaret Convention and Showstoppers!, Playbill, 22 October 2004
- "Extension and New Cast Member Announcement" (Press release). Avenue Q UK. October 2006. Retrieved 2008-08-12.
- Brantley, Ben. THEATER REVIEW; A Feeling You're Not On Sesame Street, The New York Times, August 1, 2003. Retrieved September 8, 2007.
- Als, Hilton. Mayhem and Madness, The New Yorker, August 11, 2003. Retrieved September 8, 2007.
- Hernandez, Ernio (29 June 2009). "PHOTO CALL: Harada, Larsen and More to Join Final Avenue Q Cast". playbill.com. Retrieved 23 July 2009
- "Christmas Eve Plays Santa for Broadway's Leading Men". broadwaycares.org. Retrieved 6 January 2012
- "Christmas Eve with Christmas Eve 2013". broadwaycares.org. Retrieved 16 November 2013
- Jones, Kenneth. Avenue Vous: Harada Will Be Madame T in Les Miz, With Davis, von Essen and Bruno, Playbill, 20 March 2007
- YouTube AT&T Your Seamless World Architect Commercial Retrieved October 6, 2007.
- Gans, Andrew. Avenue Q's Harada and Tartaglia Reunited on March 22 "Sprites" Episode, Playbill, 17 March 2008
- Newmark, Judith (24 June 2008). "High School Musical" (&NDASH; SCHOLAR SEARCH). St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved 2008-07-13[dead link]
- Gans, Andrew; Hernandez, Ernio (18 June 2008). "Harada, Bogardus, McGinnis and More Cast in Muny's High School Musical". playbill.com. Archived from the original on 22 June 2008. Retrieved 13 July 2008
- Broadway.com staff (15 July 2008). "9 to 5 Headed for Broadway's Marquis Theatre; Complete Cast Announced". Broadway.com. Archived from the original on 31 July 2008. Retrieved 28 July 2008.
- Gates, Anita (20 May 2011). "It's All Perfectly Polite. Then the Savaging Begins.". nytimes.com. Retrieved 28 June 2011.
- Gardner, Elysa (28 June 2011). "Playlist: Sam Phillips' 'So Glad,' plus 10 tracks". usatoday.com. Retrieved 28 June 2011.
- "Smash (TV Series 2012-2013)". imdb.com. Retrieved 25 February 2014.
- Hetrick, Adam (7 August 2012). "Cinderella , With Laura Osnes, Victoria Clark, Harriet Harris and More, Will Hold Court at Broadway Theatre". playbill.com. Retrieved 11 September 2012.
- Stasio, Marilyn. Legit Review: 'Cinderella' Sparkles, Variety, March 3, 2013. Retrieved March 24, 2013.
- Brown, Scott. Theater Review: Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, New York, March 3, 2013. Retrieved March 24, 2013.
- "Ann Harada American Songbook 2014 Presented by Lincoln Center". americansongbook.org. Retrieved 25 February 2014.
- Marzullo, Joseph (7 January 2015). "PHOTO CALL; Meet the Cast of the Vineyard's Superhero Musical Brooklynite". playbill.com. Retrieved 6 February 2015.
- "Awards for Happiness (1998)". imdb.com. Retrieved 4 August 2012.
- "2004 Audience Choice Awards". broadway.com. Retrieved 14 January 2012.
- "Awards for 2003-2004". Outer Critics Circle. Retrieved 14 January 2012.
- "Nominees — Broadway.com Audience Choice Awards". broadway.com. Retrieved 19 April 2013.
- Ann Harada at the Internet Movie Database
- Ann Harada at the Internet Broadway Database
- Ann Harada Broadway.com Star File
- Ann Harada on Twitter