Celebrating its Centenary this year, Scotch College is presenting the epic musical Les Miserables (School Edition). This is the second time that the College, known for their extraordinary, verging on professional, high quality school musicals, have presented the show; with the first version having been produced in 2012.
This version will have two casts (‘Paris’ and ‘London’). The two Jean Valjeans, Year 12 students Harry Fiedler and Ned Baulderstone spoke to Glam Adelaide’s Arts Editor, Brian Godfrey, about the upcoming production.
B.G: Please give some background information on yourself: who you are, what year you’re in, and especially your performing background.
H.F: My name is Harry Fiedler, and I’m 17 and in Year 12. I grew up in the theatre – working my way up the ranks and getting opportunities in countless amateur and professional productions. I was looking for an environment where I could do what I loved as much as possible – and I found it! I moved to Scotch College in Year 8 to get involved in their Performing Arts program I had heard so much about.
N.B: I’m Ned Baulderstone in Year 12 at Scotch College. This will be both my sixth year at Scotch and my sixth and final Scotch musical! I have done a range of amateur and professional musicals over the years but this has got to be my biggest role yet! After spending last year’s musical, Legally Blonde, behind the curtains playing guitar in the orchestra, it’s been so great to be back out there on stage. This is something I’m really looking forward to.
B.G: How does it feel to be playing one of the most sought after musical theatre roles?
H.F: I remember being in a production of Les Mis as a little kid, and dreaming of one day playing the colossal role that is Jean Valjean. Well, that day came way sooner than expected – and I feel extremely honoured to embody this absolutely stellar character.
N.B: I think it’s safe to say that Jean Valjean is the dream role for many male performers. It’s got everything a great character has to offer, from the intense bitterness of a hardened convict at the start, to a caring and loving father toward the end. Les Misérables was definitely one of the first shows I ever saw, and I grew up listening to and loving the music. Since I was a kid, I’ve always been drawn to the role, mainly because of the songs he sings. All my favourite (and I think the best) songs in the show are performed by Valjean at different moments of his long life, and I am so overjoyed to have the chance to sing them.
Back in 2012, I was just 11 years old when my grandmother brought me to see Scotch’s musical at the time, Les Misérables, and I was blown away. I was so impressed and inspired that I made it my mission to get my parents to agree to send me to Scotch College on the pure merit that I would get to be a part of these spectacular productions. Since then it has been my dream to play the part, and I never once expected to have achieved this so soon! The stars really have aligned.
B.G: The role and the show is a very emotional one. How do you attempt to relate to the emotions that exist, when as a teenager, you probably have not experienced such things?
H.F: It’s called acting! It is easy to underestimate our young cast in the portrayal of these extremely layered characters. Conjuring these intense emotions certainly is a challenge – but I and my fellow cast members are blown away time and time again by each other’s performances, and the energy that fills the rehearsal room. The audience will undoubtedly forget they are watching teens – the mass of talent on one stage is immeasurable.
N.B: The writing of this show has some really beautiful melodies. The combination of lyrics and music, especially for this role, makes it easy to convey the feelings with any audience. In preparation for the role, I have watched as many productions online as I can, as well as watching the recent BBC mini series adaptation. Absorbing these multiple interpretations has helped me understand the deeper aspects of the character.
B.G: What can audiences expect from this particular production?
H.F: Prepare for your socks to be knocked off big time by these performers. You’ll end up short of breath, crying your heart out and getting goosebumps upon goosebumps. You’ll hear some of the most gorgeous music ever written, and experience a story that has been around for over a hundred years and still manages to hit audiences right in the heart.
N.B: This will be one of the largest scale school musicals to be put on in Adelaide. With enormous sets, visionary lighting design and a large, talented youth cast, this is one that will surely stand out and be talked about for a long time to come. I’m especially excited for the incredible costumes made by Trish Whittle that truly encapsulate the era of the piece, and I believe this is something that will really lift the performers’ characterisation.
B.G: How do you manage a role as taxing as this, plus studying Year 12?
H.F: Taking on this role takes a huge chunk out of your time and your emotional energy, and it certainly can become overwhelming. To keep myself sane I always ensure my assignments are done and dusted before diving into intensive rehearsals and production week. I also try and keep myself mentally and physically healthy. This means down time, enough sleep, and cutting out the KFC – which was pretty darn difficult for Ned and I!
N.B: It comes down to time management, and of course, at times it feels stressful, but it is manageable to get both done. In some of the longer rehearsals we are able to bring some work with us to study in the breaks, and all that helps.
I admit that sometimes, I’d much rather revise my lyrics than prepare for a history exam, but it all works out in the end. This show was always going to be a huge part of my final school year, but with every rehearsal I fall more and more in love with the music and performing in general, so it is very much worth it.
Interview by Brian Godfrey
Where: Scotch College, Carruth Road, Torrens Park SA 5062
Season dates: 26, 27 July at 7pm, 28 July at 2pm, 1, 2, 3 Aug at 7pm
Tickets: Adults $40 Child/Conc $20
Enquiries: Kate Crawshaw [email protected]