Club 24601: Geronimo Rauch is Jean Valjean

Today sees the seventh interview with the members of a very exclusive club, Club 24601 – those who have played the iconic role of Jean Valjean in Les Miserables.  Most have played the role in London or Broadway, one in Belgium and one in Australia but today’s interviewee, Geronimo Rauch, started his Les Mis career in Madrid.

The Spanish production was different to London (it was the 25th anniversary production) and Rauch played the role for two years before being invited to take the part in the Queens Theatre.  It wasn’t quite so simple as that however, as Cameron Macintosh wanted to hear Rauch’s English; a phone audition duly ensued and it must have gone well as he then came to London.  You won’t be surprised to hear that aside from the production differences, the main problem for Rauch in London was getting to grips with the language.  He says “I had to erase my thoughts from the Spanish version but it was easier than I thought to start again”.

One of the things Rauch says he enjoyed me most about the role was “the incredible music.  It’s so demanding, you show all your acting and singing skills.  You go from an angry prisoner to an old, sad, dying man.  It’s a beautiful journey”.   Although there are some amazing good points about the role, all the interviewees including Rauch have said that it’s incredibly hard when you’re tired with the role demanding everything, vocally, physically and emotionally.  Having said that, Rauch provided one of the most memorable quotes about the role, saying “at least we don’t have to dance”.  A dancing JVJ – can you imagine???

Asking similar questions of all the JVJ’s I spoke to, you’re bound to get some similarities of answers and the most similarities came when I asked what was their favourite song to sing.  All chose Bring Him Home without hesitation but Rauch was among those who also chose one of the most dramatic scenes of the show, the soliloquy.  Along with Alfie, Dave Willetts, Peter Karrie and Dan Koek, Rauch chose this for the vocal and acting challenge.  As for his favourite song by another character, Rauch found it hard to pin a choice down, choosing Fantine and Eponine’s songs and then going on to mention all of Javert’s songs too.

Upon leaving Les Mis, Rauch joined that band of actors who have also played the title role in Phantom of the Opera and only relinquished that role recently, to an old JVJ and Phantom, John Owen-Jones.  After three and half years, Rauch was hoping to return to Spain and record a new album, although at the time of interview, he wouldn’t say what sort of music he hoped to record!

Club 24601 will be back next week with the Australian JVJ, Simon Gleeson.

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