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22 February 2013

‘Les Mis’ to premiere at Arsht Center, actor shares experience

Over the holidays, fans of the hit musical “Les Misérables” were treated to a film adaptation directed by Tom Hooper and starring Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean and Anne Hathaway as Fantine.

Fans and newcomers to the musical can relive and experience this tour de force at the Adrienne Arsht Center’s Ziff Ballet Opera House for a one-week, limited engagement from Tuesday to Sunday. Cameron Mackintosh produced this 25th anniversary rendition and developed the film version.

“Les Mis” is now the longest-running show in the world with more than 60 million people having seen the show. The musical has been performed in 42 countries and translated into 21 languages, making it one of the most popular musicals.

While theater critics offer their insight on the show, cast members provide an in-depth look at what it takes to interpret the show’s iconic roles.

The Miami Hurricane spoke to Andrew Varela, who plays Inspector Javert in the anniversary production. Varela was born in Los Angeles to Cuban-American parents and later lived in Miami in the early ’80’s. Valera has a long history in musical theater, beginning with school productions and culminating in his Broadway debut, playing Valjean in “Les Mis.” Valera has also performed in productions of “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Oklahoma!” and “Little Women: The Musical.”

 

The Miami Hurricane: What have you brought to the role of Javert?

Andrew Varela: What I have always done is try to bring empathy to it. In working on the role, I looked through the book and wanted to make him a cop who is just doing his job. He is a man of his word, working hard and doing his own thing. The director allowed me to bring that element to the role. He has a valid point of view in this story. By the end, we’re rooting for him.

TMH: Were there any challenges you faced in playing Javert?

AV: I am used to singing roles with high voices. Javert is a baritone role. Bringing my voice down took some work. But he is a badass and very cool, so it’s been a great ride.

TMH: How has the tour been going?

AV: It’s been great. This production is new with a new group of people and new orchestration. I have been on the Broadway one, and still having a great time. I am still impacted and moved by whatever production.

TMH: What do you think makes “Les Mis” so popular?

AV: It’s the scope of the show. While it is about Jean Valjean’s life, you have a dozen characters and their stories being told. It’s a story about redemption, revolution and love. It’s all about these big ideas. The audience is so moved by the story more than anything else.

TMH: In light of the film that was recently released, will that have any effect on people’s idea of the musical?

AV: The movie took a different approach with spoken dialogue. The fact that the movie is worldwide, it will still have the same impact of the original book. “Les Mis” is iconic. It will always be appreciated and performed. Regardless of book, movie, or musical, people will continued to be moved that story.

TMH: Do you have a favorite song?

AV: Javert’s song “Stars.” It says why he does what he does. It sounds showy with my voice. Being able to put that out there is one of the most rewarding things that can happen to you as an actor.

TMH: What do you want to let the public know about “Les Mis” at the Arsht?

AV: There are good seats still available. Honestly, if you have piece of theatre to see, make it “Les Mis.” You wont’ regret it!