Well, it was just a matter of time as the Broadway rumor mill had been grinding steadily about the highly-anticipated summer presentation at the Hollywood Bowl of Les Miserables in Concert. We learned last week through a casting notice put out in LA, that Richard Jay-Alexander has been asked to direct this milestone event because by now, everybody knows that when the Hollywood Bowl does it...they do it big, and they do it great. Jay-Alexander was in Los Angeles and attended a day of casting calls for Gavroche and Young Cosette. We immediately rang his cell phone, where we caught him (off-guard) at the airport on his flight back and he wouldn't talk, saying that it was really the Hollywood Bowl's place to make any and all announcements. So, we called the Hollywood Bowl and they told us that it was true and that Kevin Stites has been named Musical Director/Conductor.
But, the espionage continues. There have been rumblings along the Rialto of people who had been cast in roles and everyone was pretty much sworn to secrecy, as they also knew who else had been hired and the Bowl today confirmed what we sort of already knew, and happily, last night on both coasts, two of the leads - Melora Hardin from The Office was a guest on Carson Daly and Lea Michele who was making her debut at Feinstein's, both told their respective audiences of their excitement at being cast in a show, in which they both admitted to being among an amazing group of performers. But, to their credit, neither of them mentioned anyone else in the cast.
So, last night, in all the chat rooms and blogospheres, people went "insane" with excitement that Hardin was cast as Fantine and Lea Michele will be playing Eponine. The rest of the cast currently in place, and according to the Hollywood Bowl press office are Rosie O'Donnell (Madame Thernardier), Lea Michele (Eponine), Brian Stokes Mitchell (Javert), J. Mark McVey (Jean Valjean), Melora Hardin (Fantine) and Lea Michele (Eponine) and Aaron Lazar (Enjolras). For Rosie O'Donnell, this is surely a dream come true, since as well all know she loves Les Miz and has wanted to play Madame Thernardier for a long time. It looks like the time has come. Congrats Rosie!
The roles uncast at the moment are Marius, Mssr. Thernardier and Older Cosette. We reached Richard Jay-Alexander at home and he said "Well, I guess the cat's out of the bag...so to speak! I was in LA for the casting session and also got to do my first walk of the Bowl, which was really exciting. I met with the designers, and Brian Grohl from the Hollywood Bowl and Steve Linder of IMG Artists, who have worked the Bowl for awhile and there is unprecedented excitement about Les Miserables.
For me, personally, it's a wonderful opportunity to revisit a show that I love with all my heart and I was thrilled when Cameron Mackintosh and Richard Salfas (of Music Theater International) called me to discuss working on this production. The Hollywood Bowl is presenting Les Miz, by special arrangement with Mackintosh and MTI and I'm really excited about the way that the cast is shaping up and hope to deliver a thrilling evening for the audiences, who last summer were treated to a spectacular production of South Pacific, which I got to see images of in my meetings with the Bowl. That's all I can share with you for the moment, because I think that's all I know. We start rehearsal in July, and the performances are August 8th, 9th and 10th. You can go to the Hollywood Bowl web site for tickets."
Hear the People Sing! The world’s longest running musical comes to the Bowl in a staged concert adaptation – Boublil and Schönberg’s brilliant realization of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables. Winner of eight Tony Awards, this timeless masterpiece will transport you to post-revolutionary France where you will be moved by its power and magic. An all-star cast and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra will bring you this sweeping story of love, passion and redemption.
The three performances will be Friday, August 8, 2008, 8:30 PM, Saturday, August 9, 2008, 8:30 PM and Sunday, August 10, 2008, 7:30 PM.
AARON LAZAR - ENJOLRAS
Aaron Lazar recently garnered critical acclaim for his performance as 'Enjolras', the leader of the student revolutionaries, in the 2006 Broadway revival of Les Miserables, earning a 2007 Drama Desk Award Nomination for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical. Lazar starred on Broadway as 'Fabrizio Nacarelli' in Lincoln Center's Tony Award winning production of The Light in the Piazza, a role he also played to national television audiences on PBS' Live from Lincoln Center broadcast. Other Broadway/West End appearances include: The Phantom of the Opera, Oklahoma!, The Scarlet Pimpernel, the Broadway workshops of Barry Manilow's Harmony, Dirty Dancing, and 'Gabey' in the historic 2005 production of On The Town at the English National Opera. Aaron will make his Carnegie Hall debut this April 4, 2008. www.aaronlazar.com
LEA MICHELE - EPONINE
Lea Michele is gaining critical praise for her portrayal of Wendla in Broadway's Tony Award-winning hit Spring Awakening. Michele originated the role of Wendla from the first workshops of Spring Awakening at the age of 14, and through its off-Broadway premiere at the Atlantic Theatre in the summer of 2006. Other Broadway credits include Les Miserables as Young Cosette, Fiddler on the Roof revival in the role of Shprintze, opposite stars like Alfred Molina and Rosie O'Donnell. She also starred as The Little Girl in the original Broadway cast of Ragtime.
J. MARK McVEY - JEAN VALJEAN
J. Mark McVey made his Broadway debut as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables after having won the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Actor while on tour with the show.He was also the first American to perform the role in London's West End. Other Broadway Credits include Captain Walker in The Who's Tommy and Tommy Tunes’ The Best Little Whore House Goes Public. Off-Broadway credits include the revival of Chess; Hey Love, A Helluva Town and The Show Goes On.National Tours and Regional works include:Carousel, Chess, My Fair Lady, South Pacific, Seven Brides and the Hal Prince/Livent Inc. production of Show Boat. Mark has two CDs: “Broadway and Beyond” and “If You Really Knew Me” www.jmarkmcvey.com
BRIAN STOKES MITCHELL - JAVERT
Brian Stokes Mitchell's celebrated baritone has been heard on some of the world's most renowned stages including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Hollywood Bowl, Tanglewood, The Walt Disney Concert Hall and Ravinia. His long list of Broadway credits include Kiss Me, Kate (2000 Tony Best Actor in a Musical), King Hedley (2001 Tony Award nomination), Man of La Mancha (2003 Tony Award nomination), Ragtime (1998 Tony Award nomination), Kiss of the Spider Woman, Jelly's Last Jam, Oh, Kay! and his Broadway debut in Mail. He made his Carnegie Hall solo concert debut last summer, and also in concert at Carnegie Hall in South Pacific opposite Reba McEntire and Alec Baldwin. In 2006, Mitchell's solo recording debut served as the flagship release for an innovative new record label, Playbill Records, a venture with Sony BMG. Brian Stokes Mitchell has served as President of The Actors Fund for three years.
ROSIE O'DONNELL - MADAME THENARDIER
Rosie O'Donnell is a 13-time Emmy Award-winning American comedienne, talk show host, television personality, celebrity blogger, gay rights activist, film, television, and stage actress. She has appeared on Broadway in Fiddler on the Roof and Seussical! She also produced Taboo. Rosie O'Donnell is an often-advocate for New York theatre, featuring Broadway performances on her Emmy Award-winning talk-show "The Rosie O'Donnell Show," which ran 1996 to 2001. She was last seen as a co-host on the tenth season of ABC's "The View. She recently released her second book entitled "Celebrity Detox" with Warner books.
MELORA HARDIN - FANTINE
Melora can currently be seen on the highly successful and critically-acclaimed NBC show “The Office.” In December 2007, Hardin performed at the Catalina Jazz Club with a show of her music and other music, influenced by Broadway, Jazz and Standards. She has been writing songs and singing since she was a young girl of about 10 years old. She has worked with Musical Director Ben Toth and Director Richard Jay-Alexander. Hardin recently made her directorial debut with the independent feature entitled You. Next can also be seen in the Lifetime Original Movie, “My Father’s Wife” and the feature film 27 Dresses opposite Katherine Heigl. Currently she is filming the feature film Seventeen opposite Zac Efron.
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The Hollywood Bowl