Marja Harmon has been on stage all her life, performing professionally in the all-African American cast of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” on Broadway and then in the hilarious “Book of Mormon.” She has taken her talents on the road to audiences around the US in lead roles in The Lion King (Nala) and Aida. She’s currently starring as Angelica Schuyler in the “And Peggy Tour,” the third touring company of Hamilton that kicked off in Puerto Rico with creator Lin-Manuel Miranda reprising his eponymous role.
Discover Northern California with Marja Harmon
Columbus native and NYC resident, Marja was eager to share her favorite finds with us.
Where: What city are you in these days?
Harmon: Currently, in San Francisco. This was the second stop in the “And Peggy” tour of Hamilton. We have plans to continue it in and beyond San Francisco once the pandemic ends.
Where: What projects were you working on before the pandemic?
Harmon: I have been playing Angelica in Hamilton, a dream come true. Hamilton started the conversations about our forefathers. Telling that story nightly and showing that all races have ownership over our country is something I’m incredibly proud to be a part of. The show is more than artistically fulfilling and challenging. It means the world to know that young brown and Black girls see themselves represented through the Schuyler sisters in such a powerful way onstage.
Where: That couldn’t be more timely. Of all the shows you’ve been in, which production has been the most impactful for you?
Harmon: Besides playing Angelica in Hamilton, my Broadway debut in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof was one that I’ll always cherish. It was incredible to share the stage with such theatrical giants as James Earl Jones and Phylicia Rashad. I’ve been very fortunate to be a part of shows that I feel have been revolutionary for theater: Disney's The Lion King, which pushes the visual boundaries of theatrical production, and The Book of Mormon that pushes comedic boundaries.
Where: It’s exciting to be somewhere different and to explore. I’m sure you’re ready for a road trip. Where would you go and what cast album would you listen to along the way?
Harmon: My favorite road trip in Northern California has been from San Francisco to Mendocino. The vistas and the wine country are extraordinary. I won’t apologize for this, but I’d listen to Hamilton. I miss the show so much that this lets me relive it as I listen and sing along. It’s so much fun with its variety in musical genres. There’s much more than hip-hop here.
Where: What are your favorite songs on the album?
Harmon: “Helpless” and “The Room Where It Happens”
Where: Would you sing along?
Harmon: Absolutely! I miss performing in the show.
Where: Where are you stopping along the way?
Harmon: The views and the tastes of the West Coast are amazing. I would stop at every vista point and every vineyard that I happen on. This is a trip that I would want to share with someone – it’s so beautiful and lovely.
I would definitely drive through Anderson Wine Valley and stop at Husch Vineyards and Roederer Estate Vineyard for some wine tasting. My last winery stop would be in Fort Bragg for some wine outdoors with an incredible ocean view.
Speaking of ocean views, I love the beginning of this trip driving under the redwood canopies on Highways 128. After that it’s all about the majesty of the Pacific Ocean on California Highway 1. Stop everywhere you can to drink in the views and the ocean breeze.
The Road Trip
Gledeven Inn & Lodge Catering to adults only, the 152-year-old inn & lodge has 20 rooms set on 15 acres of gardens, pastures and forests along the Mendocino coast. The B&B sells local wines in its wine barn and indulges guests with in-room farm-to-table breakfasts, a spa, acres of free-roaming llamas and chickens, hiking trails and a serene setting for exploring wine country.
For another dining treat, hit up Café Beaujolais in Mendocino for wood-fired pizzas, Smashburger and a selection of creative, internationally influenced sandwiches. All ingredients are organic and locally sourced.
Husch Vineyards, Anderson Wine Valley, Philo – the oldest winery in the Anderson Wine Valley appellation, producing 22 wines including sauvignon blanc, gewürztraminer, chardonnay, Chenin blanc, cabernet sauvignon, and pinot noir. Be sure to stock up as only six are distributed nationally,
Roederer Estate, Anderson Wine Valley, Philo – the California outpost of Champagne Louis Roederer, Roederer Estate has produced sparkling wines in the Anderson Valley since 1982
Pacific Star Winery, Fort Bragg ---for a vineyard with a view, Pacific Star Winery invites you to taste unusual wines while you search out passing whales and seals. Most grapes are European in origin from Italy, Spain and France. Be sure to try the lesser-known orange muscat, charbono and Carignane vintages, which benefit from the salt air and the vineyard’s location above a fault.
Follow Marja on Instagram @missmarjaharmony