Interview: Arjun Singhal, Dayton Voorhees, and Liam Niznik of LES MISERABLES at TUTS

Fortunately, these budding stars were able to answer questions about being cast in what promises to be an exciting production of the classic musical.

By: Jul. 03, 2024
Interview: Arjun Singhal, Dayton Voorhees, and Liam Niznik of LES MISERABLES at TUTS
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One of the most exciting aspects of Houston is its burgeoning and exciting high school theater students! This past season, I had the fortune of seeing several students in the upcoming production of Les Miserables at Theatre Under the Stars this summer in their production of Something Rotten! at St. Johns School. Fortunately, these budding stars were able to answer questions about being cast in what promises to be an exciting production of the classic musical. These three students have some serious talent, and in conversation, it is easy to see where their talent lies. 

Below are the answers of Arjun Singhal, who plays Enjolras, Liam Niznik as the protagonist, Jean Valjean, and featured ensemble member Daytoon Voorhees.

Why did you want to be part of “Les Miserables,” and what do you hope to gain from this experience?

Arjun: As an avid singer, dancer, actor, and former TUTS student, the TUTS Texas All-State Musical Les Misérables, seemed to be an elegant capstone to my nine years of musical theater. The show, being one of immense emotion and incredible music, presented itself as a thrilling project to take on. The TUTS Texas All-State Musical is not solely about the product, however. The opportunity to connect with peers and artists from around the state, existing and old friends, and invaluable mentors is distinctly unique and gratifying. I hope to take advantage of these two action-packed weeks, make lifelong connections, and come together to put on a brilliant production.

Dayton: One of my closest friends, Arjun Singhal, encouraged me to audition. I was in the middle of our high school musical, so Arjun grabbed our accompaniest, tossed me in a practice room, and recorded an audition tape. I’m excited to have one last show with him before he leaves for college. Interestingly, we were cast as best friends in Les Misérables.

Liam: I wanted to be a part of Les Misérables because of the epic story it has and the impact it has had on my family and millions around the world. 

Interview: Arjun Singhal, Dayton Voorhees, and Liam Niznik of LES MISERABLES at TUTS
Liam Niznik

How do you balance school, rehearsals, and personal life during a production?

Arjun: It is undoubtedly tough to manage rehearsals, assignments, and other obligations as someone who fills myriad roles: an academic, performer, actor, artist, and the list goes on. However, I believe that I shouldn’t have to give up anything that I am passionate about. It is important to manage time effectively to ensure that I can continue all of these activities and passions. Whether that looks like working on an essay in long tech rehearsals or communicating well with teachers or employers, you have to be proactive and on top of all your work. That is not to say that I shouldn’t thoroughly enjoy the entire process and cramp up from laughing too hard. It is also gratifying to make it through a difficult workload and situation once it is finally come to completion.

Dayton: It’s difficult! Honestly, I focus on my work for the production and I’m lucky to have really wonderful teachers who work with me to make sure that I stay caught up with my school work. When it’s possible, I know it’s helpful to work ahead on school work when there is a production coming. I don’t. I lock in on the production and trust that my teachers will help me catch up. I could do a better job of working ahead on my school work.

Liam: I like to stay as organized as possible since time is what is what’s most voluntary in this business. I also like to have as much fun as possible doing all these activities which makes it all blend well. 

How do you handle stage fright or performance anxiety?

Arjun: For me, my stage fright and pre-performance anxiety seems to melt away the moment I take the stage and feel the warmth of the lights. It is usually impossible to discern faces in the crowd over the blinding lighting contrast, so I am usually able to focus my attention far out into the crowd and not feel the weight of people’s gazes. It is also undoubtedly harder to perform for a small group of friends or family than a full house in Sarofim hall.

Dayton: When I feel like I’ve practiced and prepared for a show, I don’t experience stage fright or anxiety. Winging it is never a fun experience. I do get nervous a bit right before a show starts, but once I step on stage a sense of calm washes over me.

Liam: I like to channel the anxiety into my performance “how is my character anxious, what makes them tense?” This makes these tensions motivated and true to me. 

Interview: Arjun Singhal, Dayton Voorhees, and Liam Niznik of LES MISERABLES at TUTS
Arjun Singhal

What strategies will you use to memorize your lines and lyrics?

Arjun: I mindlessly type lyrics of songs and spoken lines out over and over like a complete psychopath. It seems to get the job done pretty well.

Dayton: For a show like Les Misérables, my focus will be more on the ensemble songs. I listen to tracks and walk around the house singing a couple of weeks before rehearsals start. With such a short turn around, I know we’ll work quickly to learn the music.

Liam: I like to look at the lines over and over on the page, then I speak them out loud with correct pronunciation, rhythm, pitch etc.. and do this again and again to nail it in my brain. 

Interview: Arjun Singhal, Dayton Voorhees, and Liam Niznik of LES MISERABLES at TUTS
Dayton Voorhees

How will you ensure your performance remains authentic and emotionally engaging?

Arjun: Enjolras is an intense and focused, yet simultaneously nuanced character. For me, Enjolras represents innocent and naive aspirations paired with a devoted and clear-minded personality. Although his outward appearance is one of unwavering confidence and charisma, I want to explore his inner doubts and anxieties when making choices on stage. It is going to be an exhilarating and challenging role to play.

Dayton: Personally, the key for me to having an engaging performance is to build strong relationships off stage.

Liam: I find listening as hard as I can around me makes me have a cause-and-effect response so it’s completely natural. For instance, this feeling of rage and justice that Jean Valjean stems from the forceful misjudgement that happens around him. I listen and respond to how they treat me, so it is real.

Do you see yourself pursuing a career in theater of the performing arts? Why or why not?

Arjun: I certainly see myself pursuing a career in the performing arts. While I certainly wish to maintain my academic pursuits, I feel that I am a performer at heart. It is something truly special to come together and create live art, especially with talented people you love.

Dayton: I can see myself pursuing a career in the performing arts, but I have many other interests as well.

Liam: Yes, I see myself pursuing a career in theatre. I find theatre brings out a light in me that nothing in the past I have pursued has given me. It makes me feel alive.

Are there any specific schools or programs you are aiming for? Why are they your top choices?

Arjun: Luckily, I recently graduated and have been relieved of the stress of college applications. I am going to be attending the University of Texas at Austin in the fall for Mechanical Engineering and the Plan II Honors Program. I am incredibly excited to start my session in the fall.

Dayton: My mom is asking me the same thing. This summer I’m working on my college list. This week will be a good opportunity to learn from my peers about their goals and interests, and that will help me as I’m thinking about similar things for my future.

Liam: I am really interested in Carnegie Mellon University’s Musical Theatre program along with University of Michigan’s, NYU’s, and Pace University’s Musical Theatre programs. These are top ranked universities around the country which have great locations, campuses, and talent.

How do you plan to continue developing your skills in acting, singing, or dancing in the future?

Arjun: As a non-theater major in college, it is slightly unsettling to think about how I can continue to stay relevant and at a high level in my theater skills. Yet, I know that my passion for the arts, specifically musical theater, will drive me forward in the industry. I plan to audition for school and out-of-school productions, as well as developing my skills through self-study and practice in my seemingly little free time.

Dayton: I’ll continue to work with my vocal coach, participate in school choir and shows, and take dance classes. I’ll be performing the role of “Roger” in A New Brain with HITS Theatre in August.

Liam: Training as hard as I can in these developing years of highschool and college while making connections with as many people as possible.

How excited are you to be a part of this production? And what do you hope audiences gain from seeing your performance in the show?

Arjun: I am incredibly excited for this production. I hope we are able to convey our passion and incredible talents to the audience, and blow them away by the strength of a chorus of some teenagers. The show itself is truly inspiring and beautiful, from the music to the overarching message of omnipresent hope and justice.

Dayton: I’m very excited for this unique opportunity to be part of a high-level show with so many talented performers. I’ve enjoyed TPSMEA All-State Choir the last couple of years for the same reason. Everyone in the room is passionate about their craft.

Liam: I am thrilled to be a part of this production. I really hope audiences see the insane talent of young artists in Houston.

Interview: Arjun Singhal, Dayton Voorhees, and Liam Niznik of LES MISERABLES at TUTS
First Day of Rehearsal photo with the cast of Les Miserables at Theatre Under the Stars

Les Miserables at Theatre Under The Stars will be in performance at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts Friday, July 5 at 7:30 pm and Saturday, July 6 at 2:00 pm. Tickets can be bought at or at the Hobby Center Box Office at 800 Rosine St.


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