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Published May 23, 2014

There are a few iconic musicals in the world, and Les Misérables is one of them. Luckily for Melbourne, the acclaimed new production of Boubil & Schönberg’s Les Misérables is opening at Her Majesty’s Theatre on July 3rd, 2014 (previews on June 22nd).

The new production has broken box office records internationally, inspiring the 2012 film which won three Oscars, three Golden Globes and four BAFTAs. The cast includes established actor and musical theatre star Simon Gleeson as Jean Valjean, Hayden Tee as Javert and Patrice Tipoki as Fantine.

Les Mis Cast

Pop Culture-y was lucky enough to go along to check out the cast’s rehearsal of the finale number and chat to some of the cast members!

We asked three of the cast for their thoughts on their characters and the production.

Emily Langridge as Cosette

Emily graduated from WAAPA in 2012 and made her professional debut in 2013 in Gypsy and Pirates of Penzance with The Production Company.

Les Mis Emily Langridge

What was your first experience with Les Mis?

I haven’t seen it done professionally. Last time it was here, I was one, I think? But I saw a high school production that my brother’s high school did, which for a high school production, which wasn’t a bad one, so it wasn’t a bad memory. I love the music and I’ve had the soundtrack since I was little.

What’s your favourite change from old production to new?

I think my favourite change, especially for my character, is the costume change. She’s meant to be this beautiful young woman, full of life and really vibrant. And before, she was in this neck to floor, black dress with a lace doily around the neck…and she was really prim and proper. And they’ve really turned it on its head and the dress is just gorgeous. There’s beautiful silk and these stunning fabrics, and this has brought so much more life to the character, and to a lot of other characters as well.

Having the projections, as well, brings this depth to the set, and having the projections puts you in the world, and gives you a setting and a place, as opposed to feeling a bit stagnant. The projections are in every scene – they found these hundreds of paintings that Victor Hugo had done, he’s a world-renowned writer but he was an incredible artist as well, and we just have hundreds of paintings of Paris that really add to the setting.

Which incarnation of your character did you take the most inspiration from?

You always want it to be truthful to yourself and have the majority of it come from you and how you would personally relate to the character. But I guess snippets from everything really, there are beautiful things you can draw from the book. Because from the book to the stage, Cosette has been scaled down quite a lot. It’s hard to get the full scale of the character through, but there’s parts we drew from the book, and watching other productions, you’ll see something that you’ll think “that’s really beautiful”, and try to take that with you.

Which moment are you most excited about in the show?

I love Marius (Euan Doidge) and Cosette. We’ve just started doing that the other day, and that’s so good, and I get really flustered! It’s really powerful. I’m really excited to have some of the light moments too, some of the moments that are hopeful.

Les Mis Emily Langridge 2

Kerrie Anne Greenland as Eponine

Another 2012 WAAPA graduate, Kerrie Anne has played The Witch in Into the Woods, Calliope in Xanadu and in 2013, starred in De Lovely – A Cole Porter Celebration Concert with the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs and Orchestra at the Sydney Opera House.

Les Mis Kerrie Anne Greenland

What was your first experience with Les Mis?

I hadn’t seen it when I was little at all. I was in my third year of training at WAAPA in 2012, and I saw a Pro Am production on which the late John Milson directed, and I saw that. And the next thing I did was have a double movie day and saw the Hobbit and Les Mis on the same day! We wanted to do Great Gatsby as well, but it hadn’t come out yet.

What’s your favourite change from old production to new?

Seeing pictures of the set, and seeing the pictures of what the set will look like…the colour in it is just so beautiful. And listening to the music as well, because I’ve known the music of the show for ages, listening to the different arrangements for things is just…amazing. The orchestration is different, so some little bits have moved around and parts in the orchestra have changed around.

Which incarnation of your character did you take the most inspiration from?

For me, I love researching, so getting into the book was the best thing. A giant book, but actually a beautiful read. So definitely the novel, straight away. As I said, I’ve seen Samantha Barks do it in the film, and the Pro Am version of it. But when you do a role, you always want to do it from your own experiences and your own research base and not from anyone else, so for me, the novel was the biggest for me! Bringing the whole worldly side of her from that is what’s really affected me.

Which moment are you most excited about in the show?

We started doing some of the fight choreography, and I have a fight scene with the guys from the gang, and I ended up kicking some butt, so that’s awesome!

Les Mis Kerrie Anne Greenland 2

Chris Durling as Enjolras

Chris graduated from the University of Ballarat – Arts Academy and has played varied roles, including performing both Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio in Jersey Boys, Troy Bolton in High School Musical (not the film) and most recently, Doody in Grease.

Les Mis Chris Durling

What was your first experience with Les Mis?

My first experience of Les Mis was in Year 12 in high school when I had no idea what Les Mis was. I only knew the song ‘Empty Chairs and Empty Tables’ and I wanted to play Marius. And then I got cast as this guy called ‘Jean Valjean’, and I was like, “who’s that?” Even though I was at the top of the list, I was just angry. I knew Marius got the girl, and that was cool. I guess because I just had no idea that it was the biggest role ever, I just had a crack and it was so much fun, and I have no doubt it had such a great response in the twelve performances we did, not because of our talent but because the show is just so good. That was before I decided to pursue it as a career. The Scots School in Albury. I went to boarding school, and sport was obviously really popular but arts were too. It took me a while to come out of my shell, and I guess eventually my mum and dad just saw the potential there and were like, “you know you can do this as ajob if you want” and I went to Ballarat Uni just out of high school.

What’s your favourite change from old production to new?

I was lucky enough to see last March in London, the night before one of my auditions. At the time I was doing Jersey Boys, and I was like, “If I can’t get a job in Australia, you can take your working visa before you turn 31,” so I was like, “I’m going to check out London and see if I like it.” Getting back to the production, the moving projections are what’s most exciting about this new production. What I’m most excited about seeing when I get in the theatre is when Jean Valjean is carrying Marius and he’s in the sewers, and they make it look like he’s moving through the sewers. It was actually great to see the old production before I do the new production, just to appreciate it for what it was and to help me be excited about where it’s going. Even the set is beautiful, but it doesn’t look too busy. It puts the focus on the performers, and I think it’s going to wow people visually but not pull away from the performance.

Which incarnation of your character did you take the most inspiration from?

I guess out of all of those, I guess it is set in 1830, I guess growing up as a real sports freak, I’ve just been really physical in all I’ve done. Whether it’s putting on my awesome hand made boots…finding those physicalities are important. Every person in Les Mis plays other ensemble roles except for Jean Valjean and Javert. So in the first half hour of the show, I play a farmer, a policeman, a judge…but then I go off for a certain point and put on my wig. So I think that’s going to be a tool for me to really get into the character’s head. But I’ve been watching the different musical films and just doing some research into that time. We’ve been privileged to grow up in a time where we haven’t had to protest in the streets…just doing research in that time, and drawing on those different things. I get my passion from the love I have for my family members and thinking about them, and I take it out on stage with me, so it’s just about finding the essence and what drives them.

Which moment are you most excited about in the show?

Actually, i think I’m going to pique for being on the barricade with the rest of the male ensemble, because I think it’s the closest thing you can get to being on a football field in a musical. And I love that camraderie and that testosterone, looking each other in the eye and having that connection, that you’re willing to make that sacrifice for each other, so i’m absolutely piquing for that. But also, I think ‘One Day More’ is such an amazing song that wraps up the first act. So two days ago, when we touched on that, it’s just something that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, so I’m excited for that.

Les Mis Chris Durling 2

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