Les Miserables at the Sutherland Entertainment Centre

The epic masterpiece returns to the Sutherland Entertainment Centre in September. Based on the celebrated Victor Hugonovel of the same name, Les Misérables features an unforgettable score and is a powerful affirmation of humanity.

Released after 19 years of unjust imprisonment, Jean Valjean finds nothing but despair and mistrust in the bleak countryside of nineteen century France. Breaking his parole and fleeing north in hopes of hiding from societal prejudice, he is relentlessly pursued by police Inspector Javert, who refuses to believe that men can fundamentally change for the better.

A sprawling 20 year journey that weighs the measure of humanity against the struggle to survive, Les Misérables is an unstoppable pop-opera and an international phenomenon that has thrilled audiences for over 30 years! Miranda Musical Society is proud to present this modern classic.

Carly spoke to Director Geraldine Turner why this show has stood the test of time and why audiences should be heading to the Sutherland Entertainment Centre this September. Read the full interview below:

Geraldine Turner

Les Miserables returns to Sydney at the Sutherland Entertainment Centre and it seems that no matter how many times the show comes back, audiences always remain just as excited and just as eager to see this great epic. Why do you feel that is and what do you think a modern,  2019 audience can still  learn from Les Mis?

 

I think it is so popular because people are very familiar with it, as it has been revived so often. This is great, but there are many wonderful shows that don’t receive this sort of love, but deserve to. Of course, the universal themes in Les Mis of redemption and goodness resound with all audiences. It is a powerful story.

 

As a legend of the Australian stage, many of our readers may be more familiar with your performing work. Can you speak a bit about why you’ve decided to direct this production, and what it is that you love about the role of the director and the challenges and joys it brings.

 

I have directed a few things now, 2 operas, concerts, musicals and plays. I have always been interested in the big picture, not just my role as a performer. And I love problem solving, which is what directing is. I have written a couple of shows as well, and that is also problem solving, as you re write and edit. So, it is a natural progression for me.

 

Can you tell us a bit about your cast – obviously we are used to seeing large casts tackle the giant musical. What can we expect from your cast, who are they and what has the rehearsal process been like thus far?

 

This is a huge project. There are over 70 cast members. We have wonderful principals, Andrew Symes and James Gander, Laura Garrick, Kyle Nozza and Rebecca Carter, Anthony Mason, to name a few. I have added some children throughout, as I want to create a world in which these characters reside. I am trying to be faithful to the text, whilst putting my spin on a few aspects of the story.

 

Why should audiences come to this production of Les Mis? What makes it the show that you cannot miss this September?

 

For starters, the singing is exemplary. My cast is splendid. I am storytelling all the while, so there will be an authenticity. It is a new production, so the settings are new, but you will feel the familiar emotions as you watch and listen. Fans of the show will be pleased. If you have never seen it, then come and see this production.

RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS:

Favourite production you have ever seen?

This is a very hard question! If I must, I’ll say “Grand Hotel” on Broadway in the 90”s, and “She Loves Me” on Broadway in the 90”s. 

You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?

Straight to Italy! I absolutely adore Italy and have driven through it many times. I love the food, the people and the way they embrace life to the full. Of course I also love New York for the theatre!

Dream role to perform or show to direct?

I’d like to do the musical “Ballroom”.  I have loved it ever since I saw the movie on which the musical is based “Queen of the Stardust Ballroom’ in 1975 starring Maureen Stapleton. It’s about a lonely widow who becomes romantically involved with a mail carrier she meets at the local dance hall. The book by Jerome Kass is terrific (he also wrote the movie) and so is the score by Billy Goldenberg .Alan and Marilyn Bergman wrote the lyrics. This show has some great roles for older women.

I’d like to direct “She Loves Me’, (book by Joe Masteroff, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, music by Jerry Bock). I absolutely love the score and book. It’s the show that made Barbara Cook a star. Beautiful story, and again, really great roles. 

 I’d also like to direct “Once Upon A Mattress”.  Mary Rodgers (Richard’s daughter), wrote the music with lyrics by Marshall Barer, and book by Jay Thompson, Dean Fuller, and Marshall Barer. It’s based on the story of the Princess and the pea and was a huge hit for Carol Burnett in the 60’s both on Broadway and in a televised adaptation. Mary Rogers score is fabulous, and the script is hilarious, again lots of great roles!

Plays or musicals?

Both. A good story is a good story whether it’s a play or a musical. I just love telling a good story.

A hobby you have beyond the theatre?

I love gardening and adore my dogs. In another life I would definitely have worked in some capacity in animal welfare.

What’s next for you after this show?

I go straight into “Two Weddings, One Bride” again, for Opera Australia, followed by more concert work.

Les Miserables opens at the Sutherland Entertainment Centre on September 25, 2019. You can get your tickets here.

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