When a show gets on its feet, a director rarely has a chance to sit back and reflect on the journey of creating a production from scratch. Luckily for us, Susie Baer Collins took time to reflect upon the opening of Les Miserables at The Omaha Community Playhouse as well as journey everyone took in creating the massive musical.
What was Step One in creating this show?
“I can’t remember step one. I just remember thinking, ‘I can’t let go of this. I have to stay working on this show all the time or I’m not going to make it.’ And now, it all feels like a bit of a blur but It’s really interesting, everybody is bringing their A game.”
When you were casting, what was it that made these actors stand out in the auditions?
“It was quite clear to all of us who the right choices were. It was about who was right for our production. Like choosing Javert. An incredible actor with a kick out voice who’s only 22 just won’t look right. I think when you hear someone like Jenn Tritz sing Cosette, you won’t have any question why she was cast. That goes all the way down the line with this cast. I’m so focused right now on the details and little things that I sometimes I need to remind myself to step back and just do what I did in the initial music auditions where someone would finish singing and I would just melt into a puddle on the floor!”
What are some of the ways this show has challenged your actors?
“We all have those idiosyncratic things about us that make us move a certain way. Tyler Buglewicz’s natural proclivity in his day to day movement was a little bit of a journey from Enjolras. His journey has been outstanding and remarkable to watch. He has worked like a dog. Everyone has, really. Everyone has been challenged to go so far. They take every note with heart and focus and the next time you see them, they’ve made their next big step. Tyler’s Enjolras now is really stunning in my book. He’s transformed himself. I remember the days of ‘Aha!” when he came back from a conversation we had the night before and it was like all of the sudden ‘There he is!’.”
How has Broadway actor Timothy Shew fit in with The Playhouse?
“Timothy Shew is such a kind and generous man with a great heart and spirit…He’s just been so helpful and interesting. He respects the Playhouse’s production very much while at the same time giving all kinds of information and background and ideas that often incorporate right into our show. In his very first rehearsal with us, we sang “One Day More’ then he said that his dressing room door will always been open and that Les Mis is not any one person’s show and it certainly does not belong solely to Valjean. If it’s not for the ensemble, it doesn’t exist. This show can’t happen without all of these people being extremely focused and supportive of one another.”
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