The rights secured, we set to work: choosing dates, finding the right venue, getting the creative team together, and – crucially – auditioning and casting. The largest cast we’ll have put on stage to date, with a growing pool of extremely talented youngsters to choose from – this wasn’t going to be an easy task.
“Auditions are always a mix of excitement and trepidation”, says Dan. “The song can sound great but if there’s no connection to the audience, or if it doesn’t tell the story, then it stops being musical theatre. This is even more important in Les Mis, as it’s completely sung through. I also look for those who’ve really prepared for the audition, and who’ll work supportively with the other company members”.
Musical Director, Acer Smith: ”In other shows, the acting or dancing might take centre stage, but in Les Mis, it’s all about the music. For the lead roles, it’s the ones that bring that little extra piece of magic to the audition room that capture my attention, the ones that will be able to tell their story through the music and lyrics. And for the supporting ensemble, I’m listening for how well they can blend with fellow singers, and how quickly they pick up harmonies.”
Auditions for soloists, ensemble and the child roles were held in November 2023 at Echo HQ – St Edmund’s Church. 117 young people auditioned – the most we’ve ever had (including 38 with us for the first time) – for a place in the 45-strong cast. Competition was fierce.
The creative team – Chris, Dan & Acer being joined by Jenni Newman (Assistant Director) and Georgia Folkard (Assistant Musical Director) – agree that casting is the hard part. “So many of the auditionees blew us away”, says Dan. “Not only must we consider the unique qualities someone might bring to a role, but how well they’ll match alongside others”. Acer agrees: “It’s an intense period of deliberating that can go on for hours, but we really have ended up with a mind-blowingly good group of people, and I’m very excited to see how the show takes shape.”
And just in time for Christmas, our cast was confirmed.