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Les Mis a learning stage for two young actors
Self-confidence to last a life-time is just one reward two of Les Miserables’ youngest actors are reaping at Chemainus Theatre.
Local lass Jillian Telfer, 7, and stage colleague Reuben Broadway, 11, have grown into their respectively demanding roles, as Little Cosette and Gavroche, in the theatre’s mega-hit that opened June 20.
The punch line is that Les Mis is the acting premier of the two budding stars.
Les Mis is so hot, its being held over until Sept. 20.
That’s cool with Telfer and Broadway, sharing double-cast parts with actors Lily Killam and Sebastian Tow.
Telfer and Broadway were fresh from Saturday’s matinee when the News Leader Pictorial talked with them — and their moms — about their characters, and priceless acting experience with director Peter Jorgensen’s professional production.
It didn’t seem to faze Telfer — a Grade 3 Queen of Angels student — that Little Cosette is the global play’s poster girl representing innocence amid mankind’s continuous inhumanity.
Battling that brutality is seen in Les Mis, set during a rebellion by downtrodden French folks.
Telfer explained how she was coached “to look sad” by Jorgensen’s team.
“Cosette’s sad because she’s a slave, and has to do all the stuff for the people who take care of her,” she said of greedy gutter rats, the Thenardiers (Andrew Wheeler, Caitriona Murphy).
“All they do is steal stuff.”
Telfer unwittingly steals scenes as the big-eyed waif caught in the play’s tragic political crossfire.
Apparently, Telfer’s a natural.
“I learned you don’t have to be yourself, but a totally different person on stage,” she said, casting nerves aside.
“When I get on stage, I don’t really notice the audience, but remember my song and my part.”
She particularly likes the final scene, “the epilogue, because pretty much everyone’s on stage singing — there’s a happy part, and a sad part at the end.
“I hope people feel I did a good job.”
Her mother, Melissa, is Telfer’s biggest fan.
“This show has been an absolute blessing for our whole family; fabulous,” she said after eight Les Mis viewings, so far — a far cry from watching her daughter in some school Christmas concerts.
“I’m nervous each time I see here; she’s only seven, and it’s a big thing to step in front of people; it gets better each time.”
That’s also the hope of boy-soprano Broadway, grandson of Cowichan voice teacher and actress, Meredyth Broadway.
She instructed Broadway to “use my head voice, the top of my voice, not to hold it in the back of my throat,” he explained.
The home-schooled Grade 6 student from Clearwater indicated he thrives being on stage during Les Mis.
“I like having all eyes on me,” he stated casually.
“I like the Gavroche role; everyone says I’d be a good Artful Dodger in Oliver Twist.”
Broadway most enjoys Les Mis’ beggar scene.
“Lots of the actors are in the scene and I get to talk to lots of characters, and get to act with them in that scene.”
As Telfer resembles docile Cosette, Broadway reflects Gavroches’ scrappy, heroic nature in some ways.
“Gavroche likes to take the lead in everything; if something big’s going on, he’s part of it.”
While Cosette is melancholy, Gavroche assumes an angry stance to seek justice.
“He doesn’t like that the French (aristocracy) are throwing beggars into the street to fend for themselves, when they can’t.’’
Mom Amanda was proud her son holds his own on stage — and now, more so in public.
“I’ve watched Reuben grow and mature, even in his reactions with other people,” she said, saluting help from stage managers Sara Robb and Emma Hammond.
Broadway also believes in Les Mis’ karmic moral.
“Life’s not always going to be easy, even when you’re high (powerful) people who will have trouble later in life,” he said, echoing tragic events worldwide.
“All this (violent strife) could have been avoided if only they’d (leaders) been more kind and helped everyone.”