It was announced today that renowned tenor, recording artist and longtime Nashville favorite Mike Eldred will play Jean Valjean, a role he has played on Broadway and elsewhere, while Chuck Wagner (who recently played Valjean at Lipscomb) will play Javert, a role among his Broadway credits when Studio Tenn Theatre Company presents the beloved musical Les Misérables at Schermerhorn Symphony Center on Saturday, May 3 and Sunday, May 4.
Also in the accomplished cast: Studio Tenn’s own Laura Matula as Fantine; Eponine will be played by recent Nashville transplant Rachel Potter, a top 12 contestant on the singing competition TV show “The X Factor” with a large Broadway resumé to boot; seasoned Broadway actor Matthew Scott will play Marius and New York based actor and singer Gregory Maheu will be Enjolras.
Managing Director Jake Speck (a former member of the Broadway cast of Jersey Boys) will play Thénardier alongside company member Kim Bretton as Madame Thénardier. Other returning Studio Tenn actors featured in the cast are Nan Gurley, Shelean Newman, Patrick Waller, Ross Bridgeman, Megan Murphy Chambers and Mike Baum as well as students from Belmont University. Company member Emily Tello Speck is choreographing, and Director Matt Logan’s costume designs will be accompanied by wigs and makeup from Sondra Nottingham.
Tickets – already half sold – are available exclusively through the Schermerhorn and may be purchased at NashvilleSymphony.org or by calling the box office at (615) 687-6400.
“This will be one of the most lavish productions you’ve ever seen from Studio Tenn,” says Speck, “fully staged, choreographed, costumed, backed by a symphony orchestra, and set in the Schermerhorn’s staggeringly beautiful Laura Turner Hall – world-famous for its unparalleled acoustics.”
Studio Tenn’s production will especially shine where some critics felt the recent film version fell short: the singing. To that ambitious end, Studio Tenn has recruited Musical Director and Conductor Stephen Kummer, who had a hand in past productions including My Fair Lady and Guys and Dolls.
“The music of Les Misérables is so immensely moving-and not just in the sense of being ‘big’ and emotionally poignant,” Logan says. “As the vehicle that drives the storyline and the development of the characters, it’s necessarily the centerpiece of this show. And in order for the music to live up to itself, the performances have to be sublime.”
Based on Victor Hugo’s 1862 French Revolution novel of the same name, Les Misérables had a fittingly populist start on the stage, achieving record sales despite some cool initial critical receptions. Following premieres in France and then England, “Les Mis” debuted on Broadway in 1987 with over $4 million sold in advance tickets and added two months to its scheduled run to accommodate audience demand. It swept the Tony Awards that year and has since enjoyed numerous revivals, including a blockbuster movie in 2012.
Les Mis heralds not only the end of a season, but the beginning of a new era for Studio Tenn: starting this fall, the company will stage all of its shows at its new permanent home, The Factory at Franklin. For more news and information about Studio Tenn visit StudioTenn.com.
*Images of Mike Eldred and Chuck Wagner as well as poster art courtesy Studio Tenn.