Anniversary Production Has that 'Same Les Mis Magic'
Actors for the 25th anniversary production of 'Les Miserables' at the Paper Mill Playhouse have a strong connection to it.
Twenty-two years ago Shawna Hamic saw "Les Miserables" and promised her mother she would some day be in the production as Mme. Thenardier.
On Friday she'll be fulfilling the promise as she takes the Paper Mill Playhouse stage to play Mme. Thenardier in the 25th anniversary production of Les Miserables. The play opens Friday in previews and runs through Dec. 30 at the Millburn theater.
"It's what made me want to be in musical theater," Hamic said following a recent preview of the upcoming production in New York. "It's a circle of life moment." She called her mother when she got the role to tell her she was fulfilling the promise she made 22 years ago.
Many of the performers are having a similar experience, even if they have been in Les Miserables previously. Andrew Varela, a Summit native, said he was over the moon to land the part of Javert and he had played a different role in the Broadway production for four years.
"It's one of the best shows ever," he said. "I'm honored and thrilled."
Varela grew up going to performances at the Paper Mill Playhouse. He recalled his first production was to see "Guys and Dolls" when he was a junior in high school in the 1980s. His Les Miserables performance will be his fifth time on the Paper Mill stage.
A portion of the story of Les Miserables focuses on main character Jean Valjean, played by Lawrence Clayton, escaping jail where he was doing time for stealing a loaf of bread. Varela's Javert spends the play tracking and chasing Valjean.
Varela said he he hopes people don't think of his character as a bad guy because Javert is doing what he thought was right.
"He was a good guy in his won mind doing God's work," he said.
Jeremy Hays, who plays Enjolras, said he got to perform on Broadway in "Les Miserables," but he was a swing performer. "It meant I got to watch this show a lot," he said. "It never got old no matter how many times I saw it."
The 25th anniversary production is a new show, he said, but it has the same "Les Miserables" magic.
Chasten Harmon, who plays Eponine, said it is a great cast with a lot of creative people involved in recreating "Les Miserables." "You won't walk out with a dry eye," she said.
Betsy Morgan, playing Fantine, said she is overwhelmed but excited and having fun being a part of "Les Miserables." The production has been known for so long, she said, and now she gets to take part and recreate the show. And she also gets to do it at the Paper Mill Playhouse, which is a theater at which she's always wanted to perform.
"Not only to be at Paper Mill, but to do Les Mis at Paper Mill, and it's the new Les Mis at Paper Mill," she said.
Performances at the Paper Mill will be held Wednesdays at 7 p.m., Thursdays at 1:30 and 7 p.m., Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 1:30 and 7 p.m. and Sundays at 1:30 and 7 p.m. The extension weeks have an alternate schedule.
Single tickets are on sale and range in price from $25 to $92. Tickets may be purchased by calling 973-376-4343 or at the Paper Mill Box Office or online at Paper Mill Playhouse's website at www.papermill.org.