Harrison Meek joined the Hillbarn Conservatory last spring where he played Ado Annie’s father, Andrew Carnes in Oklahoma!. With Harrison’s witty quips, fearlessness, and goofy sense of humor, he is sure to make anyone laugh! Harrison not only does the Conservatory musical, but also has enrolled in many different classes the Conservatory has to offer such as the Audition Workshop class and the Improv class.
Q: Why did you decide to do shows?
A: Originally I was going to do a show because my friends were in it. Doing shows looked really fun, and I was always so proud of my friends who have done shows, so I wanted to try it out. I thought doing a show was going to be one time, and I wouldn’t like it, but there was this whole theatre family I didn’t know about. And ever since then, I haven’t stopped doing shows.
Q: If you were able to pick a show to star in, what would it be?
A: Ooh, Glinda in Wicked! Wait no, Elphaba! At first she’s like this nerdy person, and at the end shes like a villain, and I want to be a villain.
Q: Can you hit Elphaba’s final note at the end of “Defying Gravity”?
A: Yeah! But not right now because I’m drinking dairy.
Q: You’ve taken the improv class; tell me a little bit about that?
A: Improv is very fun, and I think it’s really good for me because the improv teacher Stephanie said, “Kids think too slow, but I think too fast.” It’s so funny to see what I do because whatever comes up out of my head is so random, and very interesting.
Q: What musical are you currently obsessed with?
A: Right now Wicked, and Newsies. Those two are my favorite right now. Last month I was obsessed with Legally Blonde. That show is awesome!
Q: Last year, Kiss Me Kate didn’t have enough men for their show, so you stepped in, and did both Kiss Me Kate, and Once Upon a Mattress. Tell me about how it’s like doing two shows at once.
A: It was definitely different doing Kiss Me Kate. I’ve never done a teenage show. I’ve been in shows with teenagers, but I haven’t been in a show where the cast were all teenagers. I was super excited to learn new things from them. Originally I was going to do Beauty and the Beast at my school, but I decided to do Kiss Me Kate, and Once Upon a Mattress because I know a lot of the people in the cast, and I wanted to challenge myself. I learned a lot more responsibility from the teenagers because they took everything so much more serious.
Q: Describe your favorite theatre game you’ve learned at Hillbarn?
A: I love Freeze. Basically you do a scene, like one person would be in a coffee shop, holding a frappachino, and having a conversation. If someone wants to come in and play the game from the audience, they yell “freeze”, and they come in and make a whole new scene out of that. So holding the frappachino could be turning that into reaching onto a shelf.
Q: You also did the Audition Workshop. What was that class like?
A: I took it right before we were going to do the summer show, 13. I worked on songs that I could audition with. Like if I wanted to be a certain character like Archie I would sing “Extraordinary” from Pippin. I learned my song, “Bad Bad News” from the show, practiced my song, and worked on my technique for auditions, and it was really useful.
Q: What was the first musical you’ve ever seen on stage? What did you think of it?
A: The first musical I ever saw on stage was Alice in Wonderland at Hillbarn Summer Conservatory. It was really fun to watch because it was my first show I ever saw. I remember thinking all the little kids in the show were super cute, and were super talented. This was the summer before I did Oklahoma!.
Q: How has doing theatre helped you in life?
A: It makes me happier because out of nowhere I’ll start singing theatre songs, and people will connect with me. Like when I was ice skating I saw Raina (A Conservatory Student) there, and the skating rink started playing “Defying Gravity”, and we started singing it together, we joined hands, and began spinning in a circle. It was just so much fun.
Q: What is your favorite thing about being in a show?
A: I think really its about being with my friends, and singing songs all together. Because when you learn the songs, with your friends, you’ll start to love them, and want to sing them together wherever.
Q: What has been your favorite part you’ve played?
A: That’s hard. Probably Andrew Carnes in Oklahoma! because it was my first show, and it was such a fun role to do. I also liked it a lot because I was kind of a villain; kind of an overprotective dad. The girl who played my daughter was super tall, and I was my height, so that made it very interesting on stage.
Q: What was your favorite show you’ve been in so far?
A: Oklahoma! It was my first show, and that’s where it all started.
Q: What’s your dream role and why?
A: Feyro from Wicked, or Pugsley Addams. Both are really interesting characters, and they have great songs.
Q: What is something you look forward to at Hillbarn Conservatory?
A: The next Improv Night. Also the next summer show. I’m really excited because we haven’t found out yet. Also, a lot of kids don’t like this, but I’m looking forward to auditions. It’s kind of like performing in another way, and it’s super fun to pick a song and sing it.
Q: What would you say to someone who hasn’t done a show, and was thinking about auditioning?
A: I would say that you should really try it out because I used to think I wouldn’t like it, or it wouldn’t be fun, but it was the best decision I’ve ever made because I have made so many best friends from it, and have learned so much. The summer shows are really great because you get to be at the theatre every single day, and you get to see your friends every single day.
Q: What’s it like getting ready for a show from auditions, rehearsals, to performances?
A: For auditions you warm up your voices before. Then some people like the Director or Stage Manager read a list of names like: Alexandra, Peggy, Eliza and Angelica, you all are doing the dance auditions, and then they read another list like: Harrison, Katie, Joseph, Erin, Philip, you are doing the vocal auditions and then the groups go into different rooms, and then switch. Once you do that you see if there’s a callback list, and that shows up within two days or so. So then you wait two days, and it’s kind of fun, and kind of scary because you get to see what you’re being called back for. After you see the callback list, lets say for Legally Blonde, and I got called back for Elle Woods, and Momo got called back for Elle Woods, and Serena. So I’d have to prepare for the callback for Ellle. Momo would have to sing “Positive”, read some scenes, and for Elle we’d both have to sing “So Much Better”, and read some scenes. Once you do that the cast list will come out and you’ll see if you got Elle, or Serena, or not. (Momo got Elle Woods, I got Serena even though I didn’t get called back for it, I still got it.) And after that you start rehearsals, where you learn the songs, learn the dances, practice scenes by writing down blocking, and it’s really a lot of fun because you’re with all your friends. After rehearsals are over you have tech week that’s really stressful, but also very fun where you run the show without an audience, but with lights, makeup, props, costumes, and scenic pieces. Then you’d probably go over bows. Then opening night comes, which is so much fun, and a wonderful experience. It’s almost the same as tech week, but with an audience. Closing night is really sad because it’s all over, but you have to do Strike where clean up the Green Room, and the costumes, and props, and say goodbye to your friends. Then you wait for the next show! I’m going to do The Boy Friend!
Q: Does doing shows motivate you to do things to improve your talents such as voice lessons, acting classes, and dance?
A: Oh yeah, it actually really has. Before I did theatre I didn’t really do anything to help me be better, but now I want to take dance classes like Jazz, Tap, and Ballet. I want to take voice lessons, but I haven’t started that yet. Doing shows and being around talented people defiantly inspires you to do better.
Q: Tell me a story about something crazy that happened on stage or backstage.
A: Well, this is going to be fun. So when we were doing Once Upon A Mattress- there’s also a video of this on Xandra’s YouTube channel called “Sir Studly Goes Rogue”. So there was a moment in the show where I got kind of confused because while I was onstage the music was loud, and I thought it was looping. I thought “Oh my gosh, everything is going wrong.” So I just started doing all these dances my inspiration was “Whipped Into Shape” from Legally Blonde. I then started saying something like, “So I see that the music is still going, we should dance. Lady H will you join me?” I combined the dance moves from Legally Blonde with Once Upon A Mattress. Eventually it got to a point where Margret, the Queen came on stage, and she said “Yes, yes very good.” And it went to blackout. When I got off the stage everyone backstage was like “Harrison, you saved the show!” But on the inside I was thinking “Oh my gosh. What did I just do?” I mean I memorized my lines, but I just thought things were going wrong, so I improvised.
Q: Do you still get nervous after doing all the shows you’ve done?
A: Well, not anymore. I mean during the opening of the show there is kind of that feeling that you can’t really describe, you’d have to do a show to feel it. If you’re reading this and you do theatre, you know what I’m talking about. But once you get on stage, it goes away. But now I don’t really get nervous anymore.
Q: What person would you love to be on stage with? This person can be from any time dead or alive.
A: Kara Lindsey who played Glinda in Wicked, Katherine in Newsies, and she was Mary Poppins for a week on Broadway. She’s my favorite Broadway actress, and I would love to be on stage with her, and also Kristen Chenoweth. Two Glindas!
Q: Do you see yourself doing theatre as a career?
A: I think so. I really want to do it. That’s what I’m hoping for. Any opportunity in theatre I get when I am older, I’ll take it because all of them are so fun, and you get to be around a great community of people.
Q: What is the one song you sing when you are all alone belting your face off?
A: I love singing “So Much Better” from Legally Blonde because I am Elle Woods.
Q: Do you have any rituals before the shows?
A: I usually warm up my voice by singing “Bumble Bee” or something like that, or “The Body of Dear Anna”. I get into my costume every single show, and that’s kind of a ritual. And putting on makeup is like a ritual. I remember my first show Oklahoma!, when I first put my makeup on, I had too much blush on that I looked like a lollipop. Also, my first show Emma’s mom gave me these two little charms for good luck, and I keep that in my pocket each show. So if Emma’s mom is reading this, yes, I still use them!
Q: Would you ever think about auditioning for the MainStage shows?
A: Yes actually. Last year I didn’t audition because I didn’t really know about it because Oklahoma! was my first show. I’m hoping, and I probably am going to audition for MainStage next season.
Q: Do you have any hidden talents no one really knows about?
A: I can do a one handed cartwheel. When I was in Kindergarten, I could do a one handed cartwheel into the splits. I can walk with my leg in reversed.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add about Hillbarn Conservatory?
A: If your a parent who has a kid that is interested in theatre, I’d defiantly recommend you auditioning for it. If you read about this earlier doing theatre here was the best decision I’ve ever made because I made so many friends, and I’m having such a fun time.