The Weekly Advertiser

Ararat Les Mis cast creating history

RARING TO GO: Ararat Musical Comedy Society Les Miserables lead roles, left, Stephen Armati, Jean Valjean, and Russell Purdie, Javert, are counting down to the society’s opening night at Ararat Town Hall.

RARING TO GO: Ararat Musical Comedy Society Les Miserables lead roles, left, Stephen Armati, Jean Valjean, and Russell Purdie, Javert, are counting down to the society’s opening night at Ararat Town Hall.

By Lotte Reiter
A ‘bucket-list’ production for many regional actors and audiences alike is set to be the biggest show Ararat Musical Comedy Society has staged.
On a grand-scale set singing ‘tear-jerking’ anthems, a cast of 60 will bring acclaimed musical Les Misérables to life at Ararat Town Hall across eight performances this month.
Stephen Armati, who plays lead character Jean Valjean, said the society and performers were fortunate to be part of one of the largest shows in theatre history.
“I’ve been performing for about 15 years and played big roles before, but this is at a whole other level,” he said.
“This is the biggest show the society has put on in its 40-plus years and is on a lot of performers’ bucket lists.
“A big show like this and sourcing actors is unfortunately something a lot of small towns find hard to put together, which is what makes this production so special.”
Armati, from Ballarat, has extensive theatre experience, performing in roles such as ‘Beast’ from Albury-Wodonga Theatre Company’s Beauty and the Beast, and directing Jekyll and Hyde and Jesus Christ Superstar for Ballarat Lyrics Theatre.
Despite this, he admitted he had never experienced a performance like Les Misérables, which he attributed to the production’s constant revitalization on live stage.
“This show has been around for a long time, but what makes it special for performers and audiences is the subtle changes that are constantly being made,” he said.
“So many people know this show so well, and they can be very unforgiving if you don’t do it justice.
“But the magic of theatre in my eyes is that every performance is different.
“I’ve been very impressed with the cast. They want to be here, and they are very proud of what they are creating. So am I.”
Ararat actor Russell Purdie, playing the role of Javert, said the magnitude and experiences of the cast helped to create not only a ‘phenomenal’ production for audiences, but also an inspiring and supportive environment for performers.
“We’re really fortunate we have people like Stephen Armati, who has experience in directing, because we can take those skills and use them well,” he said.
“And having such a big cast is great because you have support along the way.
“For me personally, I had a double bypass in November last year, which was something that came as a bit of a surprise for a lot of people.
“The show has been something I have been looking forward to and has driven my recovery – it’s kept me hanging on.”
As the cast and production team ‘refine and polish’ the show in preparation for opening night, Armati and Purdie said people should take advantage of such a rare and epic production in regional Victoria.
“This show has been three years in the planning, and I think it will be a sell-out,” Armati said.
“People will laugh, people will cry, they’ll be moved and challenged. There is definitely something for everyone.
“You don’t want to regret not coming along. This is a show that might not come back to the area for 10 years, see it while you can.”
People can buy tickets for the show, from June 15 to 30, online at www.stagecenta.com or by calling 02 6253 1454 Monday to Friday from 10am to 4pm.

Meet some of the performers…
Luke Smith-e_web
Luke Smith
Character: Marius
What brought you to theatre and performance? – A passion for music.
What makes Les Mis such a long-running success? – The songs are memorable.
Why is a live performance so special? – Because it’s people sharing a mutual interest in music.
Favourite song in the show? – ‘Empty Chairs at Empty Tables’.
What meaning do you take from the show? – It’s what you do with tragedy that defines who you are. A small act of kindness can mean so much.
Why should people come to see Les Mis? – Because Les Mis is a phenomenal production. It has many powerful moments and unforgettable characters.
Christine Bulger-e_web

Christine Bulger
Character: Fantine
What brought you to theatre and performance? – I really enjoy interpreting a character and telling a story through song, it’s so emotive.
What makes Les Mis such a long-running success? – The universality of the story and the intensity of the music.
Why is a live performance so special? – Because live performance is 100 percent honest – it has to be – there are no second takes, it’s authentic.
Favourite song in the show? – All of them! But if I had to choose ‘The People’s Song’, ‘One day more’ and ‘Stars’.
What meaning do you take from the show? – Metanoia and redemption – even in the darkest situation people can choose to do good.
Why should people come to see Les Mis? – It’s a classic, told with strength and courage by Ararat Musical Comedy Society.
Melissa Sanders-e_web

Melissa Sanders
Character: Cosette
What brought you to theatre and performance? – I grew up around theatre and performance and I’ve enjoyed it for as long as I can remember.
What makes Les Mis such a long-running success? – The fantastic music and a cast of interesting and varied characters as well as a well-developed story of tragedy, love and hope.
Why is a live performance so special? – Live performances are true demonstrations of pure talent and hard work from onstage and off stage. It’s in the moment and it’s inclusive.
Favourite song in the show? – ‘Stars’
What meaning do you take from the show?– You just have to keep looking forward to the next moment, you have to realise that it will get better.
Why should people come to see Les Mis?– It’s good, please come and see it.

The entire June 5, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

Short URL: http://www.theweeklyadvertiser.com.au/?p=78897

Posted on Jun 5 2019

Posted by on Jun 5 2019. Filed under Arts Entertainment. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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