Greater Victoria’s first production of Les Misérables will have a decidedly West Shore flavour when one of the world’s most popular musicals comes to McPherson Playhouse.
The Victoria Operatic Society’s rendition of the 35-year-old classic, which opens this Friday (May 1), features two West Shore children in prominent roles.
The young Cosette is played by Langford resident Zentaya Ellis, while Colwood’s Cailea Gordon takes on the role of the young Eponine. The show even features a rare father-daughter duo, with Cailea’s father, Dwayne, in the role of the Bishop.
“I discovered (Les Misérables) when I was doing musicals in high school in 1990,” Dwayne said. “Pretty much listening to the score gave me the inspiration and passion to perform and I have been performing ever since. The show itself speaks so well to the hardships of the characters and how much the music can evoke an emotion.”
The VOS production, running for seven shows through May 10, is one of its most ambitious to date and features one of the largest sets the society has ever created. Co-producer Patrick Heath said this show will have a different flavour than the numerous other productions mounted of this renowned musical.
“There are going to be differences in this version,” he said. “All the performers are (local), so it is Greater Victoria’s Les Misérables, which sets this one as being a little more special.”
Dwayne Gordon agreed, saying there are layers to the show he is still learning despite having seen the production numerous times in the past 25 years. Despite knowing the script word-for-word, he discovers new nuances regularly.
Sharing the stage with his daughter has made that experience even richer, he added.
“This is the third show I have worked together on with her, after doing three shows with Four Seasons. It’s special, because for me, Les Mis is near and dear to my heart. I have very few life goals, but being in Les Mis was definitely one of my goals. I get to realize it and realize it with my daughter standing on the stage beside me. It is very special.”
Cailea says her father’s influence has been a huge factor in her involvement and enjoyment of the arts.
“Being a part of VOS is very special. A lot of kids audition for it, so I’m very lucky to get the role,” she said. “My dad showed me the movie and that’s what inspired me to audition for Les Mis.”
Also an aspiring violinist, Cailea enjoys being on stage and looks forward to seeing people in the crowd. She hopes seeing her on stage will make the Les Mis experience more enjoyable for friends and family.
But there is one other thing that makes her especially proud.
“It’s fun spending time with my dad and making new friends,” she said. “I want to be like my dad when I grow up and be in lots of plays. I am very lucky to have a dad like him.”