Club 24601: Hans Peter Janssen is Jean Valjean

Club 24601 is still going strong and this week’s Jean Valjean fact is that this week’s interviewee is not only the only Belgian to take the role in London but he also came back twice to play Javert!

Hans Peter Janssen is one of the longest serving JVJ’s, doing three years (consecutively) from 2000 – 2003.  Before that, he played JVJ in the Belgian production of Les Mis from 1998 – 1999 which stood him in good stead when it came audition for the London production.

As Janssen played the role for a long time there must have been things he liked more than others and he said that one of his favourite parts was the ageing involved: “I found it challenging to build in growing older during the performance, vocally, physically and emotionally”.   When asked about the downsides he didn’t hesitate to say the back problems caused by, amongst other things, carrying Marius around as he said “not all Mariuses are lightweights”!  Major back surgery was required, necessitating a two and a half month back from the role.

As already mentioned, one of Janssen’s favourite parts of the show was the ageing and he says that the longer he was in the role, the more he came to understand the more mature JVJ and consequently, his approach became much more mature.  Leading on from this, his favourite song to sing in the show is Bring Him Home, which of course was the answer given by all the members of Club 24601 (although most also chose a second favourite).  In the following video you can see how much he immerses himself in the song:

Janssen’s favourite song by another character is Javert’s suicide because of the drama involved – and I guess that having played both roles, he is uniquely placed to know!  The following video is audio only but features Janssen singing Javert’s masterpiece, Stars:

Since leaving the show, Janssen has continued to perform in musicals around Europe, mostly in Belgium and the Netherlands.  He will shortly be in Lilies.

Next week’s Club 24601 is Geronimo Rauch.

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