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BWW Special Feature: The Four New Stars Of LES MISERABLES 2014 Answer Our Questions!

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Earlier today, BroadwayWorld announced the official casting of the four major roles in Cameron Mackintosh's highly anticipated Broadway revival of Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil's mega-musical Les Miserables - Ramin Karimloo as Jean Valjean, Will Swenson as Javert, Caissie Levy as Fantine and Nikki M. James as Eponine - and, now, those spectacular stars recount some of their fondest memories of attending the show as observers, reflect on the prescient themes of Victor Hugo's timeless novel and reveal what specifically drives their passion for the powerful material, as well as look ahead to the new production of the international stage sensation arriving back on Broadway in 2014.

For more information on the 2014 Broadway production of Les Miserables, check out BroadwayWorld's casting announcement coverage, available here.

Also, visit the official site for Les Miserables on Broadway here.

Another Day, Another Destiny

BWW Special Feature: The Four New Stars Of LES MISERABLES 2014 Answer Our Questions!Ramin Karimloo (Jean Valjean)

Tell us about the first time that you saw Les Miserables and what that experience, or the show, means to you?

Well the most memorable trip was watching Colm Wilkinson perform as Jean Valjean in the exact theatre here in Toronto where I am now playing him. It was an extraordinary performance. So spiritual. I have to mention as well Susan Gilmore as Fantine in a performance which will never leave me. Les Miserables has been a show that has always inspired me. It's an ever relevant show and to tell its story every night is something I feel grateful to be doing. I'm really happy to be part the 25th Anniversary production here in Toronto and just as excited to be part of the new production in New York. I knew when I got to play Valjean back in London for that short space of time that I didn't feel finished with the character or the show. I'm thankful I was right.

What moment in Victor Hugo's story means the most to you personally? Furthermore, what moment in the musical is the most powerful of all to you? Why?

I love the line "To love another person is to see the face of God." You can take any religious or spiritual connotations if you like, but love can heal and conquer all. I like how this show is full of compassion and forgiveness.

What message does Les Miserables have for a 2014 audience that perhaps is even more resounding than it was when the musical premiered thirty years ago? What theme or idea of the novel and musical is most pertinent to today, do you think?

I think Les Miserables is just as relevant today as it was almost 30 years ago. I remember back in grade school my history teacher saying, "History is cyclical." It's true. You only have to open the paper daily to see that somewhere around the world there is an uprising or a passionate group trying to make a change. Love, Forgiveness, Compassion, Redemption... these are themes that we deal with as humans in our lives. We see many characters in this show who have a journey through these themes. Many characters that can relate to many generations. I had a family recently come see the show and they spanned three generations. All three visibly moved by the show, but for three different reasons. Beautiful. Makes me really happy to know that this show, this story is still wanting and needing to be heard.


BWW Special Feature: The Four New Stars Of LES MISERABLES 2014 Answer Our Questions!Will Swenson (Javert)

Tell us about the first time that you saw Les Miserables and what that experience, or the show, means to you?

For Christmas presents, my parents bought us all ticket to the 1st national tour of Les Mis in Los Angeles. I think it was 1985 or 86. We drove all the way from Salt Lake City and had an amazing road trip together. Then the show just blew us all away. I think it's possible my dad still hasn't removed the soundtrack from his car CD player since then. He's had it on a loop for 25 years.

What moment in Victor Hugo's story means the most to you personally? Furthermore, what moment in the musical is the most powerful of all to you? Why?

Personally, it's the moment that Javert realizes that he wasn't the good guy. I've always been fascinated by people who believe they are more "righteous" than someone else. People who think they've got it all figured out. Javert finally sees that his motives for chasing Valjean were not righteous, but really based in personal vengeance. It's powerful to me because I'm trying hard to be someone whose motives for anything are based in goodness. It's so sad to see people acting like jerks and then blame their actions on some version of a higher moral code.

What message does Les Miserables have for a 2014 audience that perhaps is even more resounding than it was when the musical premiered thirty years ago? What theme or idea of the novel and musical is most pertinent to today, do you think?

Les Miz is the ultimate study of "Who's the good guy, and who's the bad guy?" The guy released from jail and on the run really shows us what it means to be good. And the lawman, with the name of god never far from his lips, is actually the furthest from god.

Sadly, the political climate in this country is eerily reminding me of the Javert/Valjean comparison. All of these far right, self-proclaimed "God-inspired" politicians are damaging the country severely and saying that God told them to do it. It's forcing all of us to really re-examine what it means to be righteous". Where our motivations lie for everything that we do.

Is there anything else that you'd like to share about why doing this new production of LES MIS is special/meaningful to you?

Les Mis has just been the true seminal musical for me. The show exploded just as I was getting really interested in theater. When the tour came through Salt Lake City, I snuck into the Capitol theater downtown and hid in the back of the theater so that I could watch rehearsal. I sang "Stars" to audition for the musical theater program at BYU, and it got me a scholarship! It was always a dream of mine to be a part of this show, and now to be playing this role, with this new production, it's honestly just a dream come true.


BWW Special Feature: The Four New Stars Of LES MISERABLES 2014 Answer Our Questions!Caissie Levy (Fantine)

Tell us about the first time that you saw Les Miserables and what that experience, or the show, means to you?

Les Miserables was the first musical I ever saw. My parents saw the show on Broadway, came home raving, and took our whole family to see the Toronto production. I was eight years old and it had an enormous impact on me. I was spellbound and incredibly jealous of the young Cosette! I knew then that I wanted to be an actor when I grew up.

What moment in Victor Hugo's story means the most to you personally? Furthermore, what moment in the musical is most powerful to you and why?

Fantine's story has always affected me deeply, even as a kid. There's just something about a mother and her child. And reading Victor Hugo's novel has only made her story deeper and more meaningful to me.

As for the moment I find the most powerful in the musical, it's probably "Do You Hear The People Sing" - young people putting their lives on the line for a cause they believe in, and all the hope and fear that comes along with that....gives me chills every time.

What message does Les Miserables have for a 2014 audience that perhaps is even more resounding than it was when the musical premiered thirty years ago? What theme or idea of the novel and musical is most pertinent to today, do you think?

There's a reason Les Miserables has been running all over the world for the last thirty years - it's timeless. The music, the characters, and the themes of love and morality are just as powerful now as they were when the show debuted.

Is there anything else that you'd like to share about why doing this new production of LES MIS is special/meaningful to you?

To have the chance to play Fantine and sing "I Dreamed A Dream" - one of the most iconic and beloved songs from Les Miserables - is pretty mind-blowing. I never thought I'd get the chance to play this role on Broadway, let alone in a brand new production. To say I'm thrilled would be an understatement.


BWW Special Feature: The Four New Stars Of LES MISERABLES 2014 Answer Our Questions!Nikki M. James (Eponine)

Tell us about the first time that you saw Les Miserables and what that experience, or the show, means to you?

It's no secret that I'm a big time musical theater supernerd. I started my cast album collection at very young age and you KNOW that I had the Les Mis London Cast Recording in heavy rotation. My closest friend Shannon and I would sing "On My Own" and "Castle On A Cloud" for each other on the playground. I wonder why we weren't more popular. Growing up in New Jersey I had the opportunity to see lots of Broadway shows. My whole family would see shows together pretty frequently. The most special trips were when my Mom and I would take advantage of days off from school to visit the TKTS booth on mother daughter theater dates. Even though I knew the entire score of Les Mis by heart since I was in the third grade it was 1997 before I saw it live for the first time. I remember well getting mezzanine tickets with my mom and walking into the Imperial Theater after lunch at the old Ollie's on 44th St. We didn't have the best seats in the house. We may even have bought opera glasses. I was so excited because I was seeing the first black performer to play Eponine, Shanice. I was completely blown away. I felt like I could have been the only person in the theater as if this story was being told just for me. It was romantic and dangerous and the music was lush and it was everything I ever wanted. It was all that much sweeter because one of those girls looked like me. I could picture myself running through the streets of Paris and fighting on the barricade and now I get to do it for real. That performance is one of the most vivid memories I have or seeing theater as a young hopeful actor and theater lover. I still can't really believe that I am going be part of this show's rich history. I just hope that I will be able to give just one young theater-goer the same kind of experience I had when I first saw the show.

What moment in Victor Hugo's story means the most to you personally? Furthermore, what moment in the musical is the most powerful of all to you? Why?

My favorite moment in the story is when the Bishop tells the constables that he has given Valjean the silver and offers him the candle sticks to take as well. This man was so good, so pure and so believed in forgiveness and the goodness of mankind. He doesn't even hesitate. That act of kindness changes Valjean forever it gives him a life and heals the pain of the years in prison. It is such a powerful message. A simple act of kindness can save a life and that every person is deserving of forgiveness.

The most powerful moment in the musical is "One Day More". The flag, the voices, the hope of revolution. It kills me every time.

Here's to this sensational array of talent already aligned for the new revival of Les Miserables and be sure to stay tuned to BroadwayWorld for continuing updates on the casting and production as we head into 2014!

After all, next year, for Les Miserables it is "another day, another destiny," indeed - and how!

BWW Special Feature: The Four New Stars Of LES MISERABLES 2014 Answer Our Questions!

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