BWW Exclusive: Hugh Panaro and Norm Lewis to Star in LES MISERABLES at the Muny July 15 - 21; Highly Anticipated Cast Announced!
The Muny announced principal casting for the fifth show of its fantastic 95th season, LES MISERABLES. Broadway veterans Hugh Panaro and Norm Lewis make their Muny debuts starring as Jean Valjean and Javert, respectively. Also starring is Michael McCormick as Thénardier. The production is directed by Richard Jay-Alexander, who served as the associate director and executive producer of the original Broadway, touring and Canadian companies of LES MISERABLES.
Joining these veterans is a thrilling group of five of the nation's finest up-and-coming university musical theatre students who were personally selected by Jay-Alexander from the more than 1,500 performers who auditioned. They are: Charlotte Maltby (University of Michigan) as Fantine, Alex Prakken (University of Michigan) as Marius, Bobby Conte Thornton (University of Michigan) as Enjolras, Katie Travis (Central Michigan University) as Cosette, and Lindsey Mader (University of Oklahoma) as Eponine. Rounding out the cast will be Tiffany Green as Madame Thénardier, Lily McDonald as Young Eponine, Lilly Kanterman as Young Cosette, and Jimmy Coogan as Gavroche. They will be joined by an ensemble of 11 women and 14 men.
"Richard's passion for this production has inspired all of us," said Executive Producer Mike Isaacson. "He is creating a 'Les Miz' that embraces its incredible legacy, but promises astonishing new moments of power. For anyone who loves musical theatre, Hugh and Norm in these roles, on this stage, is a bucket list moment."
Director Richard Jay-Alexander said, "Casting this production of Les Miz for The Muny was one of the most difficult things I ever had to do. I couldn't believe the level of talent that came to St. Louis for these auditions. I spent time with everyone and did some coaching. It was both joyous and heartbreaking to make the decisions, but Mike Isaacson and Megan Larche [casting consultant] kept me very focused, and this will be one of the greatest companies ever assembled. Raising these glorious voices to Claude-Michel Schonberg's score will be spine-tingling. I'm thrilled that both Hugh and Norm said 'yes' to leading this company, as I share a very rich history with both actors, and I told them that this will be the last time I do this show ... anywhere!
"Going to visit The Muny and taking it all in was a little overwhelming, as it is the largest outdoor musical theatre in the country. But this made me even more excited. Having Kevin Stites as the musical director and conductor will be a thrill for everyone because he knows every note and nuance in that score, and loves the show as much as I do. Also, having Associate Director Marybeth Abel by my side will only add to the depth of knowledge this cast will receive, allowing them to be the best that they can be, in what I believe to be the greatest musical of all time. I plan to give this production everything I know and have to offer, and give the actors a truly fulfilling experience. I am also thrilled about the design of the show and the unique environment in which it will be presented. I've already told my colleagues to plan a summer road trip. I am very much looking forward to it."
Based on the 1862 novel by French poet and playwright Victor Hugo, LES MISERABLES features music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, original French lyrics by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel, with an English-language libretto by Herbert Kretzmer. The book is by Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boublil, Trevor Nunn and John Caird. The original Broadway production opened March 12, 1987 and ran until May 18, 2003. It closed after 6,680 performances. It is the fourth longest-running Broadway show in history and was the second longest at the time it closed. The show was nominated for 12 Tony Awards and won eight, including Best Musical and Best Original Score. A revival is scheduled to open on Broadway next spring.
The Muny production features scenic design by Robert Mark Morgan, sound design by Jason Krueger, lighting design by Nathan Scheuer, video design by Seth Jackson and costume design by Colleen Grady. Kevin Stites serves as the musical director, and the production stage manager is Michael T. Clarkston.
Hugh Panaro (Jean Valjean) is most known for his performance as the Phantom in Broadway's The Phantom of The Opera. Hugh has played the title role over 1,800 times and was specifically chosen to play the Phantom for New York's 25th Anniversary production, and will return to the New York production in late August. Hugh is also one of the few actors to have been cast by Harold Prince as both the Phantom and Raoul in the Broadway production. Hugh was nominated for an Outer Critics Circle Award for his performance in the title role in Elton John's Lestat, based on Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles. He made his Broadway debut in the original production of LES MISERABLES as Marius (the role he originated in the first national company) and created the roles of Buddy in Side Show (Sony cast recording) and Julian Craster in Jule Styne's last musical, The Red Shoes. Hugh created the title role in the American premiere of Cameron Mackintosh's Martin Guerre and made his West End debut in the original London company of Harold Prince's Show Boat as Gaylord Ravenal. Hugh also played Ravenal in the Broadway and Toronto productions. At the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia, Hugh received the Barrymore Award for his performance as Jean Valjean in LES MISERABLES and was nominated for his performance as Fagin in Oliver! In 2012, Hugh received the Edwin Forrest award for his long-term contribution to the theater. At the prestigious 5th Avenue Theater in Seattle, Hugh played George Seurat in Sam Buntrock's Tony Award-winning production of Sunday in the Park With George, and Robert In Stephen Sondheim's Company. As a concert artist, Hugh has performed with major symphony orchestras all over the world and toured Europe with the legendary Barbra Streisand. Hugh is a graduate of Temple University and the recipient of the Boyer College of Music Certificate of Honor for his accomplishments in musical theater.
Norm Lewis (Javert) was last seen as Senator Edison Davis on the hit ABC drama, Scandal. He recently received Tony, Drama Desk, Drama League and Outer Critics Circle Award nominations for his performance as Porgy in the current Broadway production of The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess. Broadway: Sondheim on Sondheim, The Little Mermaid, LES MISERABLES, Chicago, Amour, The Wild Party, Side Show, Miss Saigon, Tommy. West End/London: LES MISERABLES, LES MISERABLES 25th Anniversary Concert (London's O2 Arena, PBS). Off-Broadway: Ragtime with the New York Philharmonic (Avery Fisher Hall), Dessa Rose (Drama Desk nomination, AUDELCO Award), The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Drama League nomination), Captains Courageous, A New Brain. Regional: Porgy in The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess (A.R.T.), Ragtime, Dreamgirls (with Jennifer Holliday), First You Dream, Sweeney Todd, The Fantasticks. Film: Sex and the City 2, Confidences, Preaching to the Choir. Television: Scandal, Mystery Women, All My Children, As the World Turns, Cosby, Strong Medicine. CD: Norm Lewis: This Is the Life!
Michael McCormick's (Thénardier) Broadway roles include: Chaplin (Mack Sennett), Elf (Mr. Greenway), Curtains (Oscar Shapiro), 1776 (John Adams), Kiss Me Kate (1st Gangster), How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Pajama Game, Gypsy (Sam Mendez, director), Marie Christine, Kiss of the Spider Woman and La Bête. Recent off-Broadway roles include: Tin Pan Alley Rag, A Man of No Importance. National tours include La Cage Aux Folles (M. Dindon), The Producers (Franz Liebkind), LES MISERABLES (Thénardier), and Kiss of the Spider Woman. He can be heard on 18 Broadway and off-Broadway recordings. Television credits include all three Law & Order series, Cosby, PBS's My Favorite Broadway, and Candide. Film credits include Pretty Bird, A Very Serious Person, The Producers, A Couch in New York and Gutter Song. He has been a member of Actor's Equity since 1964 when he made his debut in Oliver! He is a graduate of Northwestern University and lives in Connecticut with his wife, Alison, and son, Dylan.
CHARLOTTE MALTBY (Fantine) is making her Muny debut as Fantine. She has just completed her sophomore year at the University of Michigan where she played Ilse in Spring Awakening and Romaine Patterson (and others) in The Laramie Project. New York City credits include the original reading of 13, in which she originated and entitled the role of Charlotte; the reinvented Babes in Toyland at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall, originating the newly written role of Jenny; and Hello! My Baby as Nelly Gold. Charlotte will also appear in AWOL, an indie film set to premiere in 2014.
ALEX PRAKKEN (Marius) is has performed at The Muny as a Muny Kid, Teen, and intern. Past Muny credits include LES MISERABLES, The Sound of Music, and Peter Pan. Alex was the creative staff intern at The Muny last summer, working on Disney's Aladdin, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and The King and I. He is a rising junior in the musical theatre department at The University of Michigan. Recent credits include Gabe in Next to Normal (Farmers Alley), and Sam in Crazy for You (University of Michigan).
BOBBY CONTE THORNTON (Enjolras) makes his Muny debut in LES MISERABLES. Regional roles include: Fabrizio, The Light in the Piazza (Farmers Alley Theatre); Spencer, 8 The Play (ACT); Alan Strang, Equus; Beethoven, Dog Sees God (Boxcar Theatre); Tommy, The Who's Tommy and Dickon, The Secret Garden (Coastal Rep). Concert performances include: Venetian Room in San Francisco and Metropolitan Room in New York City. Bobby is pursuing a BFA in musical theatre at the University of Michigan. This fall, he will begin studying at RADA in London.
KATIE TRAVIS (Cosette) is a versatile soprano equally at home in musical theatre and opera. Recent credits include leading roles with Liederkranz Opera Theatre and The Fireside Theatre. She is making her Muny debut in a role that is close to her heart.
LINDSEY MADER (Eponine) from San Antonio, Texas is also making her Muny debut. As a Junior musical theatre major at the University of Oklahoma, her credits include: Something Wicked This Way Comes and On The Town.
TIFFANY GREEN (Madame Thénardier) is "thrilled" to make her Muny debut this season. Originally from Phoenix, AZ, Tiffany attended Stephens College (Columbia, MO) and Point Park University (Pittsburgh, PA). She made her feature film debut dancing alongside John Travolta in Hairspray. Other film and television roles include Disney's College Road Trip, Rescue Me and Saturday Night Live. Past theatrical roles include: Nine (Sarraghina), Fat Pig (Helen), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Gymnasia), How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (Miss Jones), The Full Monty (Joanie Lish), and Nuncrackers (Sr. Robert Anne). In addition to performing, Tiffany has also directed and choreographed The Buddy Holly Story and Hairspray for Millbrook Playhouse. She has written, produced and starred in the web series, The Underlings.
To purchase Season Tickets by phone, call (314) 361-1900, extension 550, or order online at www.muny.org. The Muny Box Office is now open from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday.