The penultimate week of our Club 24601 series (I’ll have to find something else to write about now!) and we’re on to a Jean Valjean I saw in Melbourne in 2014. Simon Gleeson has also recently been confirmed as JVJ for the new Les Mis production in Manila for 2016.
Gleeson initially came to the role through a regulation casting experience – he went through five rounds of auditions before ending up in front of Cameron Mackintosh and then it was another week or so before the role was offered to him. He remembers the time as being very exciting as “there was a great buzz around the show as we hadn’t had it there for eighteen years”. The production was also very different as the Australian Les Mis is the same as that on Broadway. I saw this show with a fellow Alfie’s Arrow, Margie, her husband, Troy and fabulous (non Alfie) friends Erin and Rob and thoroughly enjoyed it. Margie and Troy will, no doubt, be seeing the show again when it visits Brisbane shortly.
Gleeson says that he was initially overwhelmed” in the role but this quickly subsided and he relaxed more and more into it, something that will surely help him when he opens the show in Manila next year. Multiple opening nights (the Australian show is a touring production) must surely help with this.
In common with some of the other interviewees, Gleeson’s most enjoyable aspect of the role is sharing the scope of the story with an audience. As he says, it’s “nice to share a lifetime” with the audience although inevitably, that is also the most challenging part of the show too.
Although all the JVJ’s named Bring Him Home as the most challenging and best song to sing in the show, only a couple, including Gleeson, didn’t choose a second favourite. Here is Gleeson’s version, Bring Him Home starts at 2.20:
As far as having a favourite song by another character, Gleeson joined Peter Karrie in choosing Empty Chairs and Empty Tables. A very moving song, particularly coming where it does in the show.
Thank you to Simon Gleeson and Les Mis Oz for arranging this interview. Next week sees the last in our Club 24601 series and we end with the current London JVJ, Peter Lockyer.
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