Musical Theatre Dunedin Presents Les Miserables - May 2020, Regent Theatre

NEW CREATIVE TEAM FOR LES MISERABLES

Monday 1st February 2021

Christchurch based director Stephen Robertson will return to Dunedin to lead the long-awaited return of Musical Theatre Dunedin’s May production of Les Miserables at the Regent Theatre.

Robertson is no stranger to Dunedin having directed productions of Beauty and the Beast, Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Miss Saigon and two previous productions of Les Miserables for Musical Theatre Dunedin.

“It is exciting and whilst the circumstances are unusual as I didn’t cast the piece, I have always enjoyed working in Dunedin and I look forward to seeing the new up and coming talent”, Robertson says.

With over 30 years’ experience touring New Zealand directing, staging and designing musical theatre productions, corporate events and cabaret shows, Robertson has amassed an impressive resume of directing credits his latest being the New Zealand tour of ‘The Shows Must Go On’ and the New Zealand premiere of ‘Jersey Boys’ for the Court Theatre Christchurch. .

When asked what audience members can expect from his version of Les Miserables he said, “I don’t think of it as ‘my’ version, it is the same version that is seen world-wide with the cast contributing to the differences. It is my job to honour the story, the music and to be as faithful as possible to the beautiful story provided”.

Local producer and director Doug Kamo was contracted initially to lead the production but stood down after accepting a long-term contract with NZME as host on the Hits Dunedin Breakfast show.

Michael Grant will replace Stuart Walker as Musical Director for the production.

Grant’s recent productions include Showbiz Dunedin’s popular season of ‘The Highlights’ in October 2020 and the 2017 production of ‘Mary Poppins’ at the Regent Theatre.

“Having known Stephen much of my life and having been directed by him as a child and later in MTD’s Miss Saigon, I am excited to be able to join with him in a creative team that will support our phenomenal local talent”, Grant said.

Featuring one of the greatest scores of all time, this brand-new production features all the beloved songs including I Dreamed A Dream, On My Own, Stars, Bring Him Home, One Day More, Do You Hear the People Sing and many more.

It has been seen in 44 countries and translated into 22 languages around the globe with the 2015 film adaptation introducing the musical to a new generation of audiences.

Les Miserables will open on 6 May 2021 at the Regent Theatre Dunedin for a strictly limited season.

Children's Show Schedule

Wednesday 9th December 2020

TicketRocket Ticket Exchange Programme

Monday 7th December 2020

OUR PATRONS MEAN THE WORLD TO US!

If you are one of over 800 TICKET ROCKET customers who purchased tickets to our postponed May 2020 season of Les Miserables and have not received a refund, we invite you to exchange your ticket(s) to attend performances on either Thursday 6 or Friday 7 May 2021.

TERMS & CONDITIONS

  • Ticket holders must present their undamaged tickets in person at the Regent Theatre Box Office to be eligible to exchange for new tickets.
  • Tickets can only be exchanged for tickets in the same price tier.
  • Tickets can only be exchanged for performances on Thursday 6 and Friday 7 May 2021.
  • The producers cannot guarantee same seats will be available and exchanged tickets will be based on best seats available at the time of presentation.
  • Tickets are not redeemable for cash.
  • No refunds will be given.
  • Tickets are claimed in good faith and you are exchanging your tickets having not received a refund from Ticket Rocket.

REGENT THEATRE BOX OFFICE
DUNEDIN CENTRAL
DUNEDIN 9016

Q & A with Harriet and Chris

Sunday 9th February 2020

We sat down with Harriet Moir and Chris Hinchwho will be playing Madame Thénardier and Thénardier in Les Misérables and asked them the following questions:

What was the first thing you saw on stage that had an impact on you?

Harriet: I remember trundling up to the big smoke of Auckland in our iconic family blue van to see Cats and being completely mesmerised. Kind of funny now considering it’s probably my least favourite musical and clearly, it wasn’t inspurring enough for me to take up dancing lessons. I definitely sang Memory in the 8 and Under 12 section of the local singing competitions more than once though and possibly even in a school holiday shopping mall talent contest.

Chris: 1981, Annie, on Broadway. We had very good seats close to the stage, and I remember that there was a pair of twins cast amongst the orphans. Part way through ”Hard Knock Life”, they lost the cast mics for a moment and these two children - half my age - belted out their lines as if nothing had happened. I was just blown away.

What was the most recent thing you saw on stage?

Harriet: Does my daughter’s end of year dance concert count? Other than that, the most recent thing I saw live was the icnonic NZ comedian Simon McKinney. He has moved back to Dunedin after many years abroad and we were really lucky to be treated to one of his stand up shows. Absolute legend and a VERY funny man. The last musical I saw would’ve been Wicked staged at the Regent back in May. It was so great to be able to be in the audience supporting my friends for this one.

Chris: Most recently? Blood Brothers. A emotionally wrenching show with a wonderfully talented cast.

What made you audition for Les Misérables?

Harriet: It has always been one of my favourite musicals. We saw it on the West End when I was 12 and we travelled to Europe and I fell even more in love with it then. I played the grown up Cosette in the original consortium production in Hamilton in 1993 (or 94 – I can’t remember) and at that time I said I’d love to do it again enough times in my lifetime and have the opportunity to play Fantine, Madame Thenardier and be in the female ensemble. I was in the TMS production about 6 years ago as a member of the female ensemble (tick) and I think the old Fantine ship has well and truly sailed for me so here we are! Madame Thenadier it is (tick).

Chris: I was fortunate enough to join the ensemble in Taieri’s 2013 production of the show, and from that moment Thenardier was a dream role.

What do you like about your character? Do you relate to them at all?

Harriet: I like that Madame Thenardier is is a woman who once dared to dream. She is reasonably well educated had big plans for her life and how she hoped it would turn out. Unfortunately, she fell for man to whom she was very loyal but he was far from the prince charming she used to read about in romance novels. He leads her slowly but surely into a life of treachery, resentment, jealously and despair. In the novel she and her husband both end up in prison but he ultimately escapes and leaves her behind without a second thought to rot away alone. So yes, I can particularly relate to the way in which you can fall from grace a bit and how life doesn’t always turn out the way you had planned. #troubleandstrife

Chris: I love his shamelessness and utter self-confidence. I could never be that confident or ruthless in my own life.

How do you go about making the role your own?

Harriet: I think people are very accustomed a very loud and very brash and very harsh Madame Thenardier but I definitely feel as though there is much more to her than that. It’s going to be an interesting process working through bringing enough of the stereotype of the character to meet expectations but also adding my own take on her. I love the whole process of working something on the floor and then adding the layers of props, costumes and makeup and moving into the theatre. It can’t help but become your own over that time. I also believe that good comedy comes from playing real, not playing for the laughs. I’m not a huge belter vocally so I’m looking forward to finding ways of adding colour and dynamics to make her music more nuanced and interesting.

Chris: Wherever possible, I try to go back to the source material to find the underlying truth of the character. In Victor Hugo’s novel, Thenardier is arguably a greater antagonist that Javert - his insistence that Valjean continues to owe him creates so much grief for everyone around him. His greed is utterly insatiable, and of course, he wins in the end (spoiler!)

Future dream roles?

Harriet: It’d be cool to play Miss Hannigan in Annie one day but really, I’d love the opportunity to play a lead, something with a more serious side for a change. I know I can do it but the cameo/comedy role seems to be the life for me for now. I’m just so grateful that as someone who really can’t dance and someone who is no spring chicken, I seem to still be able to land a role or two.

Chris: I feel a deep connection to the flawed Mr Banks in Mary Poppins, I would love the chance to play that role. Or any role at all in Waitress.

How do you unwind after a show or during a rehearsal period?

Harriet: Because I tend to get the rough as guts parts these days, I don’t find myself having to take care of the voice as much as I did when I was playing leads or singing classically, so I’d be lying if I didn’t say my favourite way to wind down after a show is at the pub! For me, these shows are as much about the community and nurturing those relationships as it is about the performing itself and I really enjoy the time spent with fellow cast and crew. Old and young and everything in between, they’re my people. I’m also usually so knackered from juggling work commitments, the children AND rehearsals that I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow. No trouble at all.

Chris: A beer and a chat with friends. Then sleep. Lots and lots of sleep.

If you could switch a song in the show with someone else, what song would it be and why?

Harriet: Oh I’d love a crack at The Confrontation but equally Bring Him Home is a perfectly timed lullaby after all the chaos on the barricade and it’d be cool to have the ability to really draw the audience in with a breath taking song like that. It’s a hard sing though. Sheesh. I know James is going to be just incredible and if anyone call pull it off, it’s him. I’m so excited to see what he does with the role of JVJ.

Chris: That would have to be “Stars”. It’s such an iconic song, but just for a moment, we see the man behind the uniform and the obsession.

Who was the first person you told that you got the role?

Chris: My wonderful wife, Jill. She’s been so incredibly supportive - she’s always been there for the ups and the downs, so she definitely gets to hear the good news first! My amazing singing teacher Anna Langford was the second call!

Q & A with Scott and Anna

Monday 20th January 2020

We sat down with Scott Bezett and Anna Langford who will be playing Enjolras and Eponine in Les Misérables and asked the following questions:

What was the first thing you saw on stage that had an impact on you?

Scott: I think it was probably one of the Roger Hall pantomimes that the Fortune Theatre used to put on funnily enough. Jack and the Beanstalk and Aladdin stand out in my memory. I imagine a lot of the humour went well and truly over my head as a kid, but I remember sitting in the audience and watching the actors and thinking “I want to do that!”

Anna: I have memories of seeing Mary Poppins in Gore when I was young - I remember the bright costumes and the music and knowing I wanted to give it a try.
When I saw Phantom of the Opera on the West End thats when I knew I wanted to pursue performing as a career and I then started to plan my move to London to study.

What was the most recent thing you saw on stage?

Scott: On stage in general would be City Choir Dunedin’s lovely production of Handel’s Messiah but in terms of musical’s it would have been Taieri Musical’s fantastic Blood Brothers.

Anna: A Hundred Words of Snow at The New Athenaeum which was beautiful, funny and touching.
I also recently saw Chip which is the stand up comedy show of our very own Harriet Moir who is playing Mrs Thenadier - it was hilarious so you are all in for a treat!!

What made you audition for Les Misérables?

Scott: I’ve done a lot of opera and classical singing over the past few years and I wanted to get back to my first love of musical theatre and Les Misérables was a fantastic chance to allow me use a lot of the skills I’ve learnt on the opera stage in a musical theatre setting. And, of course, Les Misérables is just such an epic story and an iconic musical, who wouldn’t want to be a part of it?

Anna: Eponine has been a bit of an elusive role over the years for me as I never seemed to be in the right place at the right time in London or NZ. I was cast in the role for a European Concert which unfortunately didn’t come to fruition so I thought I had missed my chance. Fortunately due to height issues and some good genes I can still pass as young enough to play the role!

What do you like about your character? Do you relate to them at all?

Scott: I love how incredibly guided he is by his principles and also his passionate nature. I feel like he has a very strong sense of what he believes is right and wrong and that is what guides him in life. I can definitely relate to those aspects of his personality.

Anna: Although the character isn’t as fleshed out in the show as she is in the novel I like that she isn’t afraid to love whole heartedly even though she has been hurt and ill-treated in the past. I do see her more than just a girl in love with Marius, she is courageous, loyal and determined and she bravely forges her own path away from her parents. She is kind and good despite the difficult life she has lived and I think we can probably all relate to Eponines feelings of rejection and not feeling good enough to be loved.

How do you go about making the role your own?

Scott: I tend to listen and watch a few different versions of people doing the role and then put that aside while I figure out how I want to do it and how I’ll put my own spin on the character. Obviously you have to go back to the material, in this case Hugo’s novel and the libretto, and scour that for the little subtleties in the character and then I like to find bits of myself and my experience in the character to put some real truth behind my portrayal.

Anna: To me its about reading the material and doing the character work before rehearsals start and finding the characters turning points and the highs and lows of their journey. I like to try new things out on the rehearsal floor and find my own spin on the character.

Future dream roles?

Scott: My dream musical theatre role would have to be Billy Bigelow in Rogers and Hammerstein’s Carousel. The show is just full of fantastic music and Billy is such an interesting character that I would love to really sink my teeth into.

Anna: I am so thankful that I had the chance to perform my dream role of Elphaba last year for MTD but there are still many amazing roles I would love to have a go at; Eva Peron in Evita, Florence in Chess, Queenie in The Wild Party, Judas in JCS and Elsa in Frozen.

How do you unwind after a show or during a rehearsal period?

Scott: I like to chat with the other cast members, preferably about anything but the show we’re working on! Then head home and have a snack and maybe a cup of tea before bed, nothing particularly exciting I’m afraid.

Anna: It depends on the role and the discipline needed. For Wicked it was pretty intense - 30mins removing makeup and cooling my voice down and then a long bath, a steam and no talking.
For this show my role isn’t as vocally demanding so it will be a decent vocal cool down, lots of hydration and then some socialising with the cast - we have such an amazing group of people involved in this show so it will be a fun one for us on and off stage I am sure.

If you could switch a song in the show with someone else, what song would it be and why?

Scott: I would love to sing Marius’ Empty Chairs at Empty Tables. It’s such a tragic and beautiful piece, the text and the music just work together perfectly to create this very poignant moment in the show.

Anna: One hundred percent I would steal Valjeans Soliloquy and Who Am I?

Q & A with Ben and Lara

Monday 16th December 2019

We sat down with Ben Thomas and Lara Davidson who will play the young lovers Marius and Cosette so we could get to know a bit more about them and their characters who become the symbol of hope and love in this epic production of Les Misérables.
 

What was the first thing you saw on stage that had an impact on you?

Ben: The first musical I ever saw was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat out at the Coronation Hall in Mosgiel. I remember being so entertained and inspired as a young kid, and all these years later I’m friends with many of the cast and crew. Very weirdly I had this exact discussion with the guy who played Enjolras opposite me in Les Mis in Hamilton in 2017, and we were both mind-blown to realise that he actually played Joseph in that production while studying in Dunedin.

Lara: Beauty and the Beast when I was 6. Both of my parents had leading roles in the production and I was so proud of them I knew I wanted to do the same.

 

What was the most recent thing you saw on stage?

Ben: I’ve just got back from an OE in London so it’s been a year crammed full of shows - the most recent was the Dolly Parton classic 9 to 5.

Lara: The Royal New Zealand’s Ballet - Hansel and Gretel.

 

What made you audition for Les Misérables?

Ben: I’ve done the show twice before and it’s such an iconic musical that you can’t help but want to revisit the material from a new perspective. The characters and their relationships are so well written that I think you could perform this show for a lifetime and still learn new things about them with each performance.

Lara: It is without a doubt the most iconic musical in my opinion, and to be in it, in even a small role, would be incredibly worth it.

 

What do you like about your character? Do you relate to them at all?

Ben: I love how Marius isn’t afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve. This probably isn’t a trait that we share, nor is his highly impulsive nature, but I do relate to his passion and fierce loyalty to his friends. His journey also becomes a pretty dark one and he has to deal with a lot of grief which I think we can all relate to on some level.

 

Future dream roles?

Ben: Elder Price in The Book of Mormon, Prince Hans in Frozen, Christian in the new Moulin Rouge musical - obviously I’m a fan of the cheesy ones!

Lara: Peggy Sawyer - 42nd Street.

 

How do you unwind after a show or during a rehearsal period?

Ben: I love getting to know all of the people involved with the production. Any show, but especially one of this scale, attracts some very passionate, clever and creative people and nothing beats sitting around and having a drink and a yarn with them and appreciating the vast network of individuals that contributes to a production.

Lara: I always need at least an hour at home to wind down before I go to sleep. I will usually watch a favourite trashy TV show and steam my voice right before bed.

 

If you could switch a song in the show with someone else, what song would it be and why?

Ben: I think Bring Him Home is one of the most beautiful songs ever written for theatre so I’d love to have a crack at that. Then again it requires some intense vocal athleticism so I’m also perfectly content just to lie on stage and pretend to sleep while listening to James nail it.

Lara: I would switch with Marius and sing ‘Empty chairs at Empty tables’ as it’s such an emotional song and builds so well -  it gives me chills listening to it.

Q & A with James and Greg

Tuesday 12th November 2019

TWO OF DUNEDIN’S BEST SQUARE OFF IN ROLES OF A LIFETIME.

Two locals who are at the peak of their musical theatre careers in Dunedin are set to square off against each other in a reimagined production of Les Misérables at the Regent Theatre in May 2020.

We sat down with James Adams and Greg MacLeod who will play Jean Valjean and Inspector Javert respectively to get their perspective on the musical, the characters they are playing, how they are preparing for their journey into Victor Hugo’s epic tale of redemption and some insight into their careers and work ethic.

What was the first thing you saw on stage that had an impact on you?

James: The first show I remember well is Dunedin Operatic's production of ‘Me and My Girl’, with Derek Metzger. I remember him coming along to a school assembly and getting everyone to do bits of the show. I was totally hooked. The show had such energy and joy. I loved it.

Greg: A hypnotist when I was 11. It was like watching magic. The hypnotist made himself invisible and picked me up from the audience and 'flew' me around the stage. The people on stage who were hypnotised held their hands to their mouths, aghast. From that moment on, I knew I wanted to perform and move people.

What was the last thing you saw on stage?

James: Technically speaking, Postmodern Jukebox, who were huge and energetic and so skilled. Last musical was Taieri Musical’s, Blood Brothers. Stunning.

Greg: War Horse. I cried and I can't remember when I last felt so moved by a performance.

What made you audition for Les Misérables?

James: It is such a classic – the music is great, the characters are great, the staging is great, the show is wonderful. The character of Jean Valjean is the King Lear of musical theatre roles for a male and is a bucket list role that you just want to take on.

Greg: During 2001-2002, the last time Les Misérables did the rounds in New Zealand, I was in the ensemble for the Dunedin and Wellington seasons. I was inspired by all the lead actors’ performances and ever since I have waited patiently for the opportunity to audition.

How do you go about making the role your own?

James: It's sort of like getting to know someone. Taking time getting to know him really well. I try to build up the character slowly, experimenting with different ways of doing things and finding what fits. I'll use my own experience where I can to try and get an idea of how he would feel in certain situations and reading or watching other things that can give me a window into Valjean's experience. For instance, for Phantom, I read a few papers and essays on how people are affected by being disfigured. For Valjean I'll be looking for stuff about what forced labour was like in the 1800's. It begins as a sort of a history exercise, and over time I try to boil that down to understand his view of life and how he would respond to things; how he would feel and act, and how I can embody those things.

Greg: I try and forget any other actor's performance of the role that I have seen and play it from a place of first instinct. I talk to Heidi, my wife, about the character and discuss what motivates them. I read a lot and I use inspiration from other characters that are similar. I always like to move as they would, I ask myself questions like, does Javert lead from the head, the heart, the belly or the groin. I try not to act when I am on stage, I just am, and the little bits of Greg pop out and form a unique character.

What kind of research will you do for Javert?

Greg: I read the novel earlier this year to prep for the audition. I will read it again with fresh eyes and pay closer attention to Javert's role. Victor Hugo's writing is the first inspiration for this timeless story, and I will go there. I will want to understand how a person can come from poverty to being a police inspector - his novel follows Valjean's story, however, Valjean holds a mirror up for Javert and I wonder if that is why he despises him so much, because, we are repulsed often by seeing ourselves in others.

Future dream roles?

James: I'm a bit of a sucker for classics. I always wanted to play Tony in West Side Story, but I'm probably a bit past that now! I love Jesus Christ Superstar, and I'd love to have a stab at Judas or Jesus. Archibald Craven in The Secret Garden would be wonderful. And I'd love one day to return to the first lead role I ever had, at high school: Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof.

Greg: I have to play Jesus or Judas in JC Superstar, I just love the story and music - I played Jesus when I was 21 but at 40 I think I could properly do it justice. There is also a musical called Once where the protagonist (Guy) is a busker who plays the guitar. And...I would love to play Frank N. Furter from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

How do you unwind after a show?

James: During the season I'm pretty boring I'm afraid. I generally like to take things quietly. A quiet cup of tea on my own while my head stops spinning, thinking over the show, recalling what worked or didn't work so well. Maybe then watch something, read or listen to a podcast, something totally unrelated. Then I try and get some sleep to be in good form for the next night's show.

Greg: I have a shower and wash my character and makeup down the drain. The adrenalin is always pumping so I like to chat with the other cast members and then I switch off by reading.

If you could switch a song in the show with someone else, what song would it be and why?

James: There are so many good songs. Winner by a nose is Empty Chairs at Empty Tables; it's beautiful music, a wonderful sweeping melody, coupled with a dramatic, haunting lyric. There's so much you can do and communicate with it. Close runners up: Javert's suicide, Fantine's ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ and Thenardier's ‘Dog Eat Dog’.

Greg: I do love ‘Bring Him Home’, it's like a lullaby - you get to play around in falsetto and push and pull volume and voice placement. But it's in great hands with James so I’ll let him have it.

Who was the first person you told that you got Jean Valjean?

James: That was my wife Jemma. She had trouble understanding at first because of the way I was jumping around.

Who was the first person you told that you got Javert?

Greg: It would usually be my wife Heidi, but, she told me! (Heidi is Les Misérables’ production manager).