National tour of Les Miserables" opens Sept. 21 at PPAC

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When people ask me what my favorite movie, song, or travel destination is, I have no answer.

But when they ask for my favorite Broadway Musical, I don’t have to think twice.

“Les Miserables” is by far my (and many others) favorite all time musical.

It has everything: Compelling songs, uplifting story, characters you care for, spectacular sets and costumes…and an experience that stays with you long after you leave the theatre.

The National Tour launches at the Providence Performing Arts Center, where the actors and crew are rehearsing now for the September 21 opening night.

I spoke with Nick Cartell, who plays Jean Val Jean, during his lunch break as actors and director went through long hours of rehearsal.

“We are so happy to be opening in Providence after the successful Broadway run,” Cartell said. “There are so interesting changes from the original.”

The turntable is gone. The new staging is exciting, and the re-imagined scenery is inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo, giving it a cinematic look.

“All the incredible songs are there,” Nick said. “I’m so honored to be able to play Jean Val Jean every day.

“The role is demanding, but I take care of myself by finding the gym in town and keeping in shape. Singing ‘Bring Him Home’ every day is both a challenge and a joy.”

Cartell is no stranger to musical theatre, having played leads around the country in “Jesus Christ, Superstar”, “Phantom of the Opera”, and “Frankenstein”.

The Arizona native now lives in New York City, and holds a Theatre degree from Arizona State.

He is looking forward to his wife joining him in Providence, and discovering the state of Rhode Island.

“Les Miserables” will be at the Providence Performing Arts Center September 21 to 30. For reservations, call 421-ARTS or visit www.ppacri.org.

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