Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Les Miserables Nottingham Playhouse

This Friday the film of the musical Les Miserables goes on general release and I expect to be amongst the excited fans queuing to see how the cast and director have done.

Back in 1992 I was thrilled to be in the professional production of Christina Reid's play version at Nottingham Playhouse. There were eight hand picked male extras to play soldiers, citizens, students at the barricade and a chain gang. The story started with Gavroche and Eponine meeting in heaven after being killed on the barricades and suddenly shot back in time to the battle of Waterloo with the Thenardiers picking over the corpses.

I remember going to the rehearsals and trying to behave as professionally as possible (I was a performance art student in my third year at the time and this was a paid job). I made a good friend of the actor Roger McKern and kept in touch with him for years and went to see him in many productions around the midlands and in London. Through him I started to learn about the life of a professional actor.

Unfortunately, I don't have any decent photographs to put up on here, only copies of copies.

That's me with my arms folded as a citizen in the dressing room, alas not all the extras were as professional as myself. A few of them were quite noisy backstage and pissed about. I was probably one of the older ones and tried to keep myself to myself or mingled with the pros.

There was no dialogue for the extras but we did get  to sing the French National Anthem as we constructed the barricades each night. On the first night the actor who was supposed to get trapped under the cart forgot to come on (he was playing multiple roles) and the extras had to improvise with one of us falling under the cart to be rescued by the actor playing Jean Valjean.

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