BWW Interviews: Boys on the Barricade - Chatting with Mark Uhre and Perry Sherman
The new Canadian 25th Anniversary Production of Les Miserables is now playing at The Princess of Wales Theatre and has been receiving rave reviews from critics and audiences alike. BWW has been bringing its readers interviews with the cast of this incredible production, and today we sit down with Mark Uhre and Perry Sherman who play Enjolras and Marius. The 'barricade boys' talk everything from their first Les Mis experiences, to the changes to this production, gun injuries and more.
First off, congratulations on opening Les Miserables! What was your first memory of the show?
MU: I was 12 years old and I saw it at The Royal Alexandra and was completely blown away. My parents took me and I was completely mesmerized. To be able to do it now is a dream come true, which a lot of us are saying but it's totally true. And such an amazing experience both on stage and off. I get emotional all the time because it's just so incredible.
PS: I did not see it when I was younger, my first interaction with the show was doing it in high school where I played Marius. My director back then has been my mentor ever since, and every time I get a gig I always call him. When I got this gig he was thrilled, and I think it's very cool that this production connects me with one of my very first theatrical experiences and my theatre mentor. It all comes together in this production.
There's been a lot of talk of the changes in the new 25th Anniversary version. What do you think of the changes and what they mean for the show?
MU: I saw the original production in a few different cities, and I've probably seen it at least ten times. Our show is totally different but the story and music is still the same. Visually there are just so many more elements that dig deeper and make the story richer. The movement of the show is beautiful and you completely forget that the revolve is no longer there.
You talk about how it's visually different, part of that is the incorporation of paintings by Victor Hugo. How does that work?
MU: I'm a visual artist as well as being a musical theatre performer, and it's been incredibly cool to see his paintings and get to know him as an 'artist' as well as a writer. It's inspiring to see. I have to remind myself every night not to turn around and look at the gorgeous images!
With these new projections, gone are the old ones that would state the date and location of various scenes. Given how much time passes in this show, how do you keep the audience on track without those dates?
MU: I think it works without them. I'm inside of it so it's a bit harder for me to say, but I think the design supports the passage of time really well. Including costumes and all the scenic elements.
MU: They're both incredible to work with, so generous and warm and just great guys to work with on-stage and great people off-stage as well. The rehearsal process was great because we started fresh, but lots of people had done it before so there was a wealth of knowledge and lots of different interpretations. So throughout the whole process people were questioning the characters so it was fun to do because you feel like you know them so intimately, you can delve deeper and examine how a character actually feels in the moment, and it was great to pick apart such an epic story.
PS: Mark and I were two of the few people who had never been involved with a professional production before so we had something in common. We were immediately shunned and became social outcasts of the group.
So did that shunning help you build a sense of camaraderie?
MU: Well, I am sporting a black eye right now...
PS: Maybe we're slugging each other on the barricade!
MU: I'm afraid it's not that exciting. I was fake loading my gun and I hit myself in the face, so I continued on but the whole time I was thinking 'did I just lose my eye???' I guess at least it was my gun and my fault, it's not like one of the revolutionaries smacked me in the face. So there's that.
But in all seriousness, we've got great camaraderie. I think because we have such a great mix and we've all had time to talk about the show, talk about other people's opinions of your character and your interpretation. Because the show is so big and epic we all loved the show, and so we bonded immediately.