Lead actor's dream comes true in Les Miserables
Woodbury resident Robert Fischer “Dreamed a Dream” that he would one day play the role of Jean Valjean in “Les Misérables.”
“The role of Valjean is close to my heart,” he said. “I’ve been dreaming about it for so long.”
Fischer’s dream has come true now that he will be taking on the role of Valjean in Woodbury Community Theatre’s production of “Les Misérables,” which will open June 19 at the Loft Stage.
“It’s certainly a dream because I’ve been singing these songs in my car and in my shower ever since I saw it,” Fischer said. “It’s an honor that (WCT) trusted me with what I almost consider to be a sacred role.”
Not only is Fischer having his dream realized of playing Valjean, but director Lenore Weir is also having her dream come true by directing “Les Misérables.”
“This is my fantasy show,” she said. “This has been my favorite show my whole life and to be able to do a show like this is a dream.”
“Les Miséerables,” based on the book written by Victor Hugo, tells the story of Jean Valjean who after 19 years as a prisoner is freed by Javert, the officer in charge of the prison workforce. Valjean promptly breaks parole but later uses money from stolen silver to reinvent himself as a mayor and factory owner. Javert vows to bring Valjean back to prison. Eight years later, Valjean becomes the guardian of a child named Cosette after her mother’s death, but Javert’s relentless pursuit means that peace will be a long time coming.
“The story and the plot is so moving – it makes you laugh, it makes you cry,” Weir said. “It applies to today as much as it did 200 years ago.”
“It’s the story of redemption that is timeless,” Fischer said.
Weir said she decided on “Les Misérables” for this year’s summer musical because it’s a show that WCT has never done before and it’s a show that many have wanted to do for a long time.
“It has the best script and score in the world,” Weir said. “Everyone who has ever seen it is ecstatic that we’re actually doing it.”
“Les Misérables” will mark Fischer’s first time on stage since 1998 when he decided to leave that life behind.
Throughout his 20s, Fischer performed in many shows. In fact, he was even offered a part with the Minnesota Opera.
However, Fischer decided to turn his back on performing in favor of his family. Fischer has six children.
“I had created an opposition of the life of performance and family life,” he said. “I’m an all-in type of guy, so I decided that I was going to do one or the other 100 percent.
“I chose family without any regrets, so I put performing away.”
When it was announced that WCT would be performing “Les Misérables” this summer, Fischer said he didn’t have to think too hard about auditioning.
“I’ve been out of performing for a long time,” he said, “and this is the only show that could take me out of retirement.”
Fischer, who works as a mortgage banker, said his favorite aspect of theater is being able to become the character.
“You begin to lose yourself in the actual character and you start to become the character for those few moments that you’re on stage,” he said. “There’s nothing else that can replace that – you can’t lose yourself in mortgages.”
“Les Misérables” is not an easy show by any means for its director, or its cast of 54, since it is a “singing show,” which essentially means there is no dialogue.
“There’s no breaks,” Weir said.
“Stamina is key,” Fischer said. “It’s as close to opera most of us are going to get.”
Even though it is a challenge, Fischer said he is excited to help bring “Les Misérables” to life.
“Yes it does demand certain attention,” he said, “but it has been a thrill to put my skill on the line.”
Weir said audiences who come to see “Les Misérables” can expect amazing sets, amazing costumes, amazing acting and amazing music.
“This is the most spectacular show we’ve ever done,” she said. “It’s the largest and biggest in every way.
“I will never have another experience like this because there is no other show that can compete.”
Woodbury Community Theatre’s production of “Les Misérables” will run at 7 p.m. June 19-20 and June 25-27 and at 3 p.m. June 21 and June 28 at the Loft Stage at East Ridge High School, 4200 Pioneer Drive. Tickets are $18 for adults, $15 for seniors and $12 for students. More information and tickets can be found at merrillartscenter.org.