By Anthony King | SDUN Editor
Broadway San Diego continues their 2012 season with the classic “Les Misérables,” which opened Tuesday, Aug. 28 for a six-show run, ending Sunday, Sept. 2. The tour, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Cameron Mackintosh production, began in 2010 and represents a new direction in regards to the staging, one that actor Jason Forbach said was a big hit.
“We’re showing [audiences] something completely new,” he said. Forbach, who is one of a handful of players that were a part of the original touring company, said they did not know what to expect when they began staging the production.
“We were all shocked at the reception we’ve had. It’s like an audience at a rock concert,” he said. “I think it is just a testament to this show. People love this show and they love this music.”
That admiration is one reason Broadway San Diego included it in their season, which most recently featured “La Cage aux Folles,” and follows “Les Misérables” with “Jekyll & Hyde” in early October.
“Productions such as these add vitality to the art community in San Diego by offering exhilarating, fulfilling, top-notch musicals to those who otherwise would not be able to experience a Broadway production,” said Carl Thompson, director of marketing and business development. “We take great pride in contributing to the arts community, cultural enhancement and economic development of San Diego by bringing people together to experience the thrill of live theatre.”
Part of the 25th anniversary production’s re-conception sees the removal of the iconic rotating stage. The production also incorporates images of art – photos of paintings created by Victor Hugo, the author of the book on which the original play was based – projected on stage to help dramatize the story.
“Everything is gritty and very real, very raw. The emotion is very high,” Forbach said. “Its much more thematic and epic in scope than that minimalist turn table [staging]. I don’t think anyone has a second to miss the old stage.”
Forbach plays Enjorlas, the leader of a group of students and revolutionaries in early 1800s Paris, and good friend to Marius, one of the story’s main characters. The actor’s previous credits include “The Phantom of the Opera,” “The Music Teacher” and “As You Like It,” among others.
In addition to his stage work, Forbach has also recorded two albums: “A New Leading Man” and “Remember to Dream,” which is a holiday EP featuring his official foray into song writing. “Remember to Dream” was used as a platform for a holiday concert in Minneapolis, Minn. last December, which Forbach helped organize as a fundraiser for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. The concert featured Forbach and members of the touring “Les Misérables” cast along with the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus.
“I just wanted the opportunity for the company to get together and get into the spirit of the holidays,” Forbach said, adding that he appreciated the opportunity to work with the Gay Men’s Chorus, meet their board members and explore the area.
“I think everyone in the theatrical community feels passionately about supporting AIDS organizations and finding a cure,” Forbach said. All proceeds from the evening went to Broadway Cares, which then distributes the money to AIDS and HIV organizations nationally.
“I had complied letters of appreciation from all of these different groups saying how Broadway Cares helped their organization stay afloat and thrive,” Forbach said. “We had people read those letters throughout the evening. It was a pretty poignant night.”
The touring company has given back in other ways in its two-year run, most recently with another benefit concert held their last week in San Francisco, just before the show came to San Diego.
“I think any time we can bring attention to these causes, in a way that we can through entertaining and music,” Forbach said, “it’s the least we can do.”
Forbach said he is looking forward to being in San Diego, even for the short amount of time. Performances run through Sept. 2: Friday at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday at 2 and 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday at 1 and 6 p.m. All performances are at the San Diego Civic Theatre, located at 1100 Third Ave. For ticket information visit broadwaysd.com or call 619-564-3001.