Kaylee Harwood
Photo: Samantha Gaetz

Beautiful – The Carole King Musical
book by Douglas McGrath

Dates and Venue November 13 - 18, 2018, 8pm; matinee performance on Sat & Sun at 2pm | The Queen Elizabeth Theatre

An Interview with Kaylee Harwood

Interviewer John Jane

The Broadway Across CanadaTM touring production of Beautiful - The Carole King Musical rolls into Vancouver next month for eight performances (November 13 – 18) at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Beautiful: The Carole King Musical tells the inspiring true story of Carole King’s remarkable rise in popular music. It also showcases her songwriting career with husband Gerry Goffin, and fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann.

One member of the troupe will likely not be spending her spare time sight-seeing and souvenir shopping. Kaylee Harwood, who is understudying for Sarah Bockel in the title role as well as Alison Whitehurst in the role of Cynthia Weil, will be visiting with family and friends. Kaylee grew up in Langley, British Columbia and attended Langley Fine Arts School. She also spent some time living here in the West End – on Harwood Street! Her mother and brother still live in the Lower Mainland.

Kaylee Harwood spoke to me by telephone this week while she was jogging on the footpath along the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis. Straight away, she mentioned how excited she was about returning to Vancouver. Kaylee started her professional acting career in a major role in an Arts Club production of Les Misérables in 2009 and things have been in the ascendency ever since. She is also thrilled to be bringing the show to Canada. “I’ve been on the road with Beautiful for over a year now, taking it to forty cities” she informed me.

I told her that I had actually seen her perform in Les Miz with the Arts Club Theatre and remember being impressed. “Yes, I was Cosette in the 2009 production at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, then came back in 2015 to play the same role in the remount” she responded excitingly.

Kaylee has quite a lengthy resume for one still young. I asked her how long had she been an artist and how she got started. “I recall taking dance classes and singing in choirs when I was very young. I’ve been performing since then and started acting as a teenager.” “I got my Bachelor of Arts degree in theatre at Trinity Western University.”
Kaylee is from a music loving family, but is the first to have a professional career. I asked if there had been anyone to whom she had looked up to and gave you inspiration. She took little time to respond. “I understudied to Sara-Jeanne Hosie in South Pacific at the 2008 Chemainus Theatre Festival.” “She was a wonderful mentor, so I learned so much from her and we have since become close friends and regularly stay in touch.”

I wasn’t sure if it was because she was jogging while talking, but Kaylee talks quite fast in conversation. I just had to ask “you must slow down sometime, so what is that you do to unwind when you’re not rehearsing or performing?” “I like to run. Today, I ran five miles to the Tyrone Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. But when I want to just chill out, I like to read or listen to music. I particularly enjoy music from the sixties – just like much of the Carole King songs you will here in this show.”

Being primarily a stage performer, the young artist sings, dances and acts, but has also studied piano and guitar. Though she admits her ability is not at professional level. Asked which accomplishments she is most proud of, she replied enthusiastically “I have to say that standing alone on the Stratford Festival thrust stage in a performance as Guinevere in Camelot is a moment I’m never going forget.” “Also, taking part in the Shaw Festival and a Christmas Spectacular at New York City’s Radio City was a lot of fun.

It was obvious that Kaylee has enjoyed playing every gig she has ever had, but I wondered if there was a special role. “Oh, there have been lots of roles I would love to do again.” Kaylee thought for a moment, then continued “Playing Eliza Doolittle in My fair Lady at the Western Canada Theatre in Kamloops certainly ranks pretty high. During the show, my character’s diction has to change from a cockney accent to something more refined after her elocution lessons.” “I would love to play Eliza again sometime. Also Maria in The Sound of Music.”

Talking to Kaylee Harwood, I was left with the impression that she’s a dedicated artist with a strong work ethic. As we said goodbye, I wished her luck – though I doubt if she will need it.

© 2018 John Jane