BWW Exclusive: Behind-the-Scenes Scoop on the Big LES MIS Oscars Performance - Special Interview with Julie Garnye; Photos & More
Last night's performance from the cast of LES MISERABLES was one of the highlights of the Oscars, featuring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried, Samantha Barks, Aaron Tveit, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen and Eddie Redmayne - as well as numerous members from the show's various productions - to perform the Act One Finale "One Day More" along with snippets of 'Suddenly' and 'I Dreamed a Dream'.
BWW got an exclusive scoop from the behind the scenes from longtime site favorite Julie Garnye. As a performer in Los Angeles, she most recently appeared in the Disney animated film "Tinkerbell and the Lost Treasure" as the singing voice of the fairy Lyria, "Star Turn" episode in the final season of TNT's "The Closer", "Les Miserables" at The Hollywood Bowl (directed by Richard Jay-Alexander), "Chess" in Concert at the Ford Amphitheatre and starred with Tony-winners Alan Cumming and Alice Ripley in "Open All Night: The Music of Lance Horne."
In New York, she recently appeared in the concert reading of the Broadway bound "HEATHERS, The Musical" and in 2007, she was distinguished as the only female performer to be invited from outside New York to appear in the all-star Stephen Schwartz tribute concert at Town Hall.
Other credits include Broadway: HAIR in Concert (last minute replacement for Tony Award winner Idina Menzel), CHESS in Concert, The Easter Bonnet Competition. New York: Broadway By The Year 1978 (Town Hall), Children Of Eden in Concert (New York Premiere), Pippin in Concert, NAMT Songwriters Showcase 2005 and dozens of readings and workshops, from new developmental musicals done in a composer's living room to Legally Blonde at 42nd Street Studios.
Take us back to the beginning, how did this Oscar performance come about?
I got a call about 3 weeks ago via my agent. I was just on a trip and just flying back into LA and my agent asked what I was doing the week of February 18th to 24th? It turned out my schedule was clear because a gig I was doing, THE SONGS OF Andrew Lloyd Webber in South Carolina ended on the 17th. When I asked what the job was ... my agent said 'You're going to be singing on the Oscars!'
Wow, what happened next...
I flew in from the concert and basically started rehearsal this past Monday morning.
Ok, lets go back a bit, your first experience performing in Les Miserables was at the Hollywood Bowl?
Yes and from the Hollywood Bowl company, there were four of us that were chosen, 3 men and me. When I got the first phone call, I texted Richard Jay-Alexander (who directed the Bowl production) to ask if he did this because I didn't know how they got me.
He wrote back that he had nothing to do with it, and I was shocked because there were original Broadway cast members in the Bowl production, and I was shocked and flattered that they picked me! I told Richard that even if he didn't cast me for the Oscars, he still did, because I was in the Bowl production because of him, and he really had a hand in my love of LES MIS over the years. I wouldn't have been on the Oscars if it wasn't for him.
When did rehearsals start?
Rehearsals started with 24 of us, including alumni from the national tour and alumni from London and elsewhere that were also in the film, and the 4 of us from the Bowl and 3 people from the Broadway revival. The cast was handpicked by Cameron Mackintosh, and then organized by Trinity Wheeler, who's the Prodution Stage Manager for the current tour of LES MIS, and who's worked on a number of other Cameron Mackintosh projects. Trinity was responsible for coordinating all of our schedules - he made sure we were where we were supposed to be, doing what we were supposed to be doing, wearing what we were supposed to be wearing. Trinity is a gem and such a pleasure to work with - he made what could have been a stressful week an absolutely joyful experience!
When we started rehearsals, we were working with Rob Ashford, Christopher Bailey and Spencer Liff. We began to work in Burbank on the number, working with just us 24 and the dancers who were in a number of numbers throughout the night.
Then, on Tuesday we moved to Capital Records along with the huge Oscar's orchestra, and recorded a safety track just in case, and rehearsed with the orchestra.
But on the broadcast...
Yes, we were totally LIVE, it was just for safety.
Who else was on the creative team?
Stephen Brooker was the musical director and the musical God of all things for Cameron Mackintosh. Also there was Anthony Lyn, the resident director, and he was taking care of us and making sure that everything was as LES MIS as it should be. The staging was a little different than the stage version and doing it in gowns and 4 inch heals required something a little different so it was important to everyone to keep up the intention and the story telling.
When did the principals join in?
The principals came in on Friday, and that's when we started working with Hugh and Annie and everyone else then, and that was at the Dolby Theatre. I started the day early, because they had chosen 4 of us, me and Betsy Morgan (as the women) and experimented with hair and makeup to determine the look for all of us for the show. The cast then joined us from noon onwards.
And, tell us about Sunday...
We met at the W Hotel, where most of the cast were staying and got shuttled over to the Dolby, through crazy security to do our final rehearsals. On the bus, one of the ensemble, David Roberts, started singing 'Do you Hear the People Sing?' and by the end of it, we were all singing along at the top of our lungs and laughing and cheering. Anthony (Lyn) explained that we were representing the film and also that were literally representing everyone who had ever done LES MIS (on stage) in the last 28 years and that was very special for us.
What was the rest of the day like?
We spent a lot of the day in the dressing room, and then rehearsed with street clothes and no makeup. Getting to watching people like Adele, who is stunningly beautiful, was a highlight and Seth was hilarious rehearsing too. The day was electric and we were filled with butterflies and excitement, during our run-through in the afternoon and while waiting around.
What was the actual performance like?
The actual performance was insane, the backstage was very small and cramped and it was when you really felt -- that this is happening. When Catherine Zeta-Jones started singing (during the CHICAGO segment) backstage, we started looking at each other with excitement that our segment had started, and tears started whelling up in our eyes that were doing this for everyone who had ever done LES MIS. Duing the film clips, they were lowering giant LED screens onto the stage and we were getting ready behind the screens.
The cast was pumping themselves up and taking deep breaths back there, I remember that Anne Hathaway and Russel Crowe, who I was near, were breathing deep. Across the stage, Sacha Baron Cohen was making funny faces, making us all laugh and relax.
It sounded like a HUGE response from the audience?
Yes, the audience was standing and cheering and clapping and clapping well into the commercial, until we left the stage. Looking out, I saw Tommy Lee Jones who was crying and walked by Christoph Waltz, who was clutching his Oscar with one hand and slapping his thigh with the other. He shook my hand as I walked by, and I congratulated him, pointing to his Oscar and he congrulated us on our performance.
Summing up, what has this unusual and wonderful experience meant to you?
It was wonderful to represent a show that was so special to me as a teenager and still is. I'd ushered the show in San Francisco, selling programs and sneaking into the back of the house over 350 times while I was in high school. I would do anything to be involved with it. I was so enthralled by that cast, and it really did feel like we were helping to represent everyone that had done the show. Afterwords, Cameron threw a party for the LES MIS ensemble and dancers, he came to congratulate us and it was very sweet of him to do that.
It was a magical night!
Click below to re-watch the performance!
Here's the full cast:
Ethan LePhong - The Hollywood Bowl
Julie Garnye - The Hollywood Bowl
Ramin Karimloo - UK and the film
David Roberts - UK and the film
Killian Donnelly - UK and the film
Haviland Stillwell - 2006 Broadway Revival
Jenny Latimer - US 25th Anniversary National Tour
Sarah Shahinian - US 25th Anniversary National Tour
Ben Gunderson - US 25th Anniversary National Tour
Joe Tokarz - US 25th Anniversary National Tour
Nadine Malouf - US 25th Anniversary National Tour
Julie Benko - US 25th Anniversary National Tour
Hannah Shankman - US 25th Anniversary National Tour
Trinity Wheeler - Production Stage Manager
Stephen Brooker - Musical Director
Anthony Lyn - Associate Director
Julie Garnye at Capitol Records
The ladies at Capitol Records
Hollywood bowl cast at Capitol Records
Watching Seth rehearse
Laughing at Seth
Backstage at The Dolby during rehearsals
Hair and Makeup begins!
The Red Carpet!
With Stephen Brooker, MD
The cast from the US 25th Anniversary Tour
Hollywood Bowl Cast Backstage
With Cameron Mackintosh
With Trinity Wheeler