Les Misérables to take the Schuster stage
By Brian P. Sharp
When the newly conceived, newly orchestrated Les Misérables takes the stage in Dayton will it be everything its loyal followers remember? Les Misérables, a musical by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg, based on the Victor Hugo novel, music by Claude-Michel Schonberg and lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer has enjoyed 25 years of sell-out houses. Dayton should be no exception.
Cameron Mackintosh presents this reimagined production of Les Misérables with glorious new staging and dazzling reimagined scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo. This is a classic opera that contains a great score, filled with wonderful songs and a story of the power of the human spirit and unconditional love. As Hugo once said, “To love another person is to see the face of God.”
This show is full of passion and romance, mixed with suspense and the power of humanity. It is the story of one man, Jean Valjean — a fugitive who is pitted against the police officer Javert in a struggle to avoid capture. Les Misérables is the story of the poor in 1815–1830s France.
I had the opportunity to speak with Richard Vida who plays the part of Thénardier. Vida had performed in the show on Broadway in another role. He promises that the new twists on the show will leave the audience thrilled. Vida is returning to Dayton with this touring company after his role with the Human Race Theatre Company in Drowsy Chaperone. Vida says he looks forward to returning to Dayton and the great people.
“I am definitely looking forward to visiting Tank’s … and SideBar in the Oregon District,” laughed Vida.
Vida is no stranger to the theatre. He grew up in Hartford, Conn. and worked on the Hartford stage even as a young child.
“I always knew [I was meant to perform] … I never desired to be anything else,” said Vida.
No one could deter him on his quest for stardom. He was fortunate to have been raised in a city where the arts were big and funding was plentiful. His parents never stopped him and were always supportive. After his early schooling, Vida moved on to work at the Mark Twain Masters – the same school that saw the likes of Peter Falk, Katherine Hepburn also worked to prepare Vida for this important role.
Vida worked to finish his degree much later in life, all while keeping a job in performance. He says that these roles require real talent – not the talent that you find auditioning in malls … where you are led to believe that it’s just a process and not hard work. Vida tells a different story.
“[This job] takes hours and hours of work and study … as well as tenacity,” said Vida. “It’s not easy doing eight shows a week, being away from home and living out of a suitcase. [But] I get to get up everyday and do what I love!”
Vida has long theatre résumé. He has held dance positions with people like Cool and The Gang and been the dance captain for the Warner Brothers Industrial’s of the ‘80s. Vida was also in the original national tour of 42nd Street. He’s been in Anything Goes, Singing in the Rain and worked with Tommy Tune. In addition to these he has been seen in The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public, Play Ball, in the national tours of The Drowsy Chaperone and Busker Alley.
He also has had an extensive television career, where he has been seen in Sex and the City, Law and Order, and Now and Again. In his film career, he has starred in The Stepford Wives, Little Manhattan, Geppetto and has worked on the Discovery, TLC and USA networks.
You need to make time during your Thanksgiving festivities to visit the Schuster Center for an amazing night of theatre. You only have a few days to experience Les Misérables in Dayton. You won’t want to miss it.
Les Misérables runs at the Schuster Performing Arts Center from November 22 through 27. Tickets can be purchased online at www.ticketcenterstage.com or by calling the box office at (937) 228-3630.
Reach DCP theatre critic Brian P. Sharp at Theatre@DaytonCityPaper.com.