BWW Interviews: kidsActing Artistic Director Dede Clark on LES MISERABLES

BroadwayWorld Austin is pleased to share our Q&A with Dede Clark, Artistic Director of kidsActing, regarding their current production of LES MISERABLES.

kidsActing presents LES MISERABLES, the legendary, award-winning musical about one man's struggle to overcome his past and the lives he touches along the way. Set during a nation's time of great turmoil, this epic tale of perseverance and strength of the human spirit will be performed by kidsActing's advanced students. The show will run February 13-March 2 on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7pm and Sundays at 3pm at Center Stage Texas.

Tickets: Adults (18+) $15.00, Students (17-) $12.00, Current kidsActing students (spring 2014) $10.00.

The story begins in 19th-century France when Jean Valjean, a convicted man, breaks his parole and escapes from the ruthless policeman Javert. His efforts to cleanse himself of his sins by adopting a dying factory worker's daughter will change all three of their lives forever as France enters a period of great turmoil and historical change. kidsActing's version of what many have deemed 'the greatest musical of all time' is a wonderful way to introduce the whole family to this famous tale. The emotional roller coaster of laughter, tears, love, loss and triumph is made all the more astounding when performed by youth. LES MISERABLES begins February 13, 2014 with a special benefit performance on February 21st at 7:30pm, with proceeds supporting Center Stage Texas, a nonprofit arts organization dedicated to serving East Austin youth.

Performances at Center Stage Texas, February 13 through March 2, 2014. Tickets and more information available at

BWW: What is KidsActing?

DC: kidsActing is here to create community through the arts. We want to provide a supportive, fun environment where young people can be creative, expressive, improve communications skills and learn important life skills. Everything we do is for and about the well-being of kids. I used to work in the film business, helped Joel and Ethan Coen on their first picture, Blood Simple, shot here in Austin. Just prior to that, I was asked to teach an acting class for a non-profit film company. As a favor, I did. While I loved working on the movies, I discovered that I loved working with kids more. So, I decided to go with my passion, borrowed $3000 from my mom to buy a video camera (yup, that's what they cost in the early 80's) and started an acting school with eight students in my first class, one of whom, in his forties now, brings his daughter up from Houston every summer to be in a kidsActing camp. In the past 34 years we have produced over 100 plays and musicals, a weekly TV news show done by kids, created 8 original musicals with songs written for them by numerous Grammy winning Texas singer-songwriters including Willie Nelson, Ray Benson, Marcia Ball, Steve Fromholz, Joe Ely, Eliza Gilkyson, Butch Hancock and many, many more, expanded to be in 14 locations, have started a non profit that gives free theatre, art, and dance classes to low-income children as well as a variety of classes for children with various disabilities. We have taught thousands of children and are now teaching the offspring of many of our former students. We have given many young people their first jobs and actually have adult staff who grew up performing at kidsActing. We have won numerous B. Iden Payne awards, the Nickelodeon Parent's Pick Award, and were voted Best of Austin so many times that we were inducted into the "Hall of Fame All Time Austin Chronicle's Reader's Poll Winners." To say the least, my life has been busy, full, and rich and I feel enormously lucky to get to do what I do.

BWW: What led to the decision to do Les Miserables?

DC: We have done Les Miserables in the past but I decided to do it again. In spite of the obvious that the movie came out and the kids were excited, it was a bit more political for me. We see the polarization of our world because of money, religion and politics. I experienced the May 1968 riots in Paris, I thought about the Arab Spring, and most recently the Ukraine; the never-ending fights that go on all over the world and the subsequent loss of youth. I have a group of smart, passionate kids and this seemed like a perfect choice for them to not only do a musical they love, but to encourage them to look at the world with a broader scope. I sent this to my cast last night after the show:

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