Broadway performer Marja Harmon mused for only a moment while considering her best Christmas gift ever — a family trip to Paris with Columbus parents Tom and Mary Harmon and younger sister and TV and film actress Chasten Harmon in 2008.
“We went all out,” said Harmon, speaking from her apartment in New York City, where she has performed as Mrs. Brown in Broadway’s megahit “The Book of Mormon” since 2014. “And frankly, I am obsessed with anything Parisian. So, we had a glorious time.”
On Saturday, Marja Harmon, 34, becomes part of the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic’s Christmas gift to the community, as the orchestra frequently has labeled its annual pair of yuletide performances. She and Clayton Stine, another Columbus native and a seasoned saxophone player who last year performed with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, will entertain.
Harmon last performed locally in February 2015 for Black History Month’s The Langston Hughes Project at The Commons. But her last appearance with the Philharmonic came in February 2013 with her sister, a time when they each crooned major tunes from their Broadway shows. For Marja Harmon, that includes leading roles in major productions such as “The Lion King” and “Aida.”
Story continues below gallery
For this show, the concert title of “Home for the Holidays” is wonderfully accurate. In fact, one of the tunes she will sing is the classic “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.”
“I don’t get to come home very often, and with my parents it’s always lovely,” she said. “But I’m especially excited about this, because I never get to come home for Christmas with my (performing) schedule. So, to come home at Christmas and be with parents and do a concert with the Philharmonic in front of people who watched me grow up — that’s very exciting.”
Harmon also selected “The Christmas Song” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” two of her personal favorites, to sing when she and music director David Bowden considered numbers for the show. She mentioned that “Let It Go” from Disney’s “Frozen” also will be part of the program.
Longtime Columbus music and voice teacher Janie Gordon, a successful vocalist herself for years, will work with Harmon before the concert, along with Bowden.
“When Marja performs, you get a charismatic, professional-yet-humbling and very sincere performance,” said Gordon, who has taught and coached Harmon since she was in sixth grade in the mid-1990s. “She’s very easy to work with and is very adaptable, but she stands her ground when she knows professionally what’s best for her.
“And with the maturity that she now brings to performances, it’s refreshing that she still has that ability to work so well with others,” Gordon added.
Though she has worked alongside such luminaries as actor James Earl Jones, Harmon regularly comes across simply as a down-to-earth performer aiming to bring people together — something she sees as even more important in the past year as political and other divisions have torn apart segments of the country.
“I think something special still happens when people are sitting in an audience, and it’s dark, and they’re transported by whatever they’re listening to and looking at,” she said. “It’s one of those things that unites us and connects us — and we all want to feel connected to something.”
Harmon acknowledged that she feels a strong connection to her castmates in “The Book of Mormon,” describing them as “some of the most comical and funniest people around.”
But she is branching out from Broadway, and doing more television auditions than stage tryouts these days “It’s an entirely different animal than theater,” she said.
Next year, she will appear in Episode 5 in the new season of the Netflix-original, superhero series “Jessica Jones,” playing the neighbor of a villain.
Coming full circle in the conversation, she laughed as she facetiously reconsidered her best Christmas gift ever.
“On a superficial level, it would have to be my KitchenAid mixer,” she cracked. “That thing is fantastic. It’s a game-changer — and so great for baking.”
She leaves in the spring for Turin, Italy, and a two-week cooking course. For now, though, she hopes to put together all the right ingredients for a sweet pair of performances with the local, professional orchestra.
“Just that in itself,” she said, “is so thrilling.”
Who: Broadway performer and Columbus native Marja Harmon, along with Columbus native and sax player Clayton Stine, performing in the concert “Home For the Holidays” with the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic.
When: 3 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9.
Where: Judson Erne Auditorium, 1400 25th St. in Columbus.
Tickets: $5 to $40.
Information: 812-376-2638 or thecip.org.