Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

February 28, 2013

Les Misérables to open March 8 at Playhouse


CROSSVILLE — Cumberland County Playhouse presents the Tennessee professional premiere production of the triumphant musical, Les Misérables, starring Nathaniel Hackmann as Jean Valjean, direct from the current national tour of the great multi-award winning show. The production marks the Playhouse return of Nathaniel after a national tour as Gaston in Beauty and the Beast, in addition to his performances as Jean Valjean in the recent Les Mis touring company.  

“His national tour experience has further enriched and matured his magnificent sound,” notes director Jim Crabtree. “His Les Mis performance and vocals, which show off Nate’s full range, are absolutely thrilling in the intimate Playhouse mainstage.”

Les Misérables is based on Victor Hugo’s classic novel about ex-convict Jean Valjean and his attempts to start a new life as he is pursued relentlessly by policeman Javert for years through the difficulties of revolutionary France. This blockbuster musical also showcases a Tony Award-winning score including the songs “I Dreamed a Dream,” “Do You Hear the People Sing?,” “One Day More,” “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables,” “A Little Fall of Rain,” “Master of the House,” and “On My Own.” Les Misérables features a book by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg, lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer, and music by Claude-Michel Schönberg.

Joining Nathaniel in his fourth Playhouse season is his wife, Nicole Bégue Hackmann, in her eighth CCP season, in the major role of Fantine, singing the great ballad “I Dreamed a Dream.”

Other leading roles will be played by long time company veterans Britt Hancock and Jason Ross, who will take on the exciting challenge of alternating in the roles of dramatic villain Javert, and comic villain Thenardier. Four-season rep veterans Greg and Lindy Pendzick (as Marius and Cosette), and exciting artists John Dobbratz (Enjolras) and Anna Baker (Eponine) are returning to the company after debut seasons in 2012. Musical Director Ron Murphy (in his 10th season) leads the orchestra and singers, with his wife, Lauren Marshall Murphy, (sixth season) as Madame Thenardier, which she alternates with 25-year CCP volunteer, and teacher of French and theater, Angela Robbins.  

Choreographer and musical staging director Leila Nelson also shares the role of Eponine with Anna Baker, with students in CCP’s Performance Education Program alternating in the youth roles of Young Cosette, Young Eponine, and Parisian street-kid Gavroche.  The young actors are pivotal to the piece, as the show depicts the effect of these hard times on the smallest members of the community.

Other CCP favorites in the cast include Weslie Webster, Patty Payne, Austin Price, Carol Irvin, Michael Ruff, Daniel Black, and Chaz Sanders.

Choreographer and musical staging director Leila Nelson also shares the role of Eponine with Anna Baker, with students in CCP’s Performance Education Program alternating in the youth roles. The children in the show are double/triple cast, led by Sophie Burnett/Adeline Smith/Sasha Villaruz as Young Cosette, Anya Reichers/Kaydi McCausland as Young Eponine and Simon Berman/Christopher Figueroa/Zachary Villaruz as Gavroche. The young actors are pivotal to the piece, as the show depicts the effect of these hard times on the youngest members of society.

Hancock, Webster and Nelson are assisting director Jim Crabtree in staging the giant production.  Scenic Designer John Fionte collaborates with media designers Sandra “Sam” Hahn and Chicago’s Dunaway Designs, plus Atlanta and Knoxville lighting designer Josh Hamrick, to create the production’s ever-changing looks and atmosphere. The 200+ costumes are by Rebel Mickelson, assisted by Renee Luttrell, Terry Schwab, Sandy Black, and crew members. The CCP professional company is joined by professional interns from Tullahoma, Knoxville, and Murfreesboro, plus many experienced volunteers as “the people of France,” for a total company of ninety. 

Tickets are available at or by calling 931.484.5000. While many enjoyed the recent film, nothing beats the thrill of seeing it live. Les Misérables runs March 8 through May 3, is rated PG-13 and is co-sponsored by Tennessee Plateau Oncology/Dr. Dirk C. Davidson, MD and by Dr. Vianney E. Villaruz, MD, Cardiology CMG-CMM.

Currently onstage at CCP is Steel Magnolias (rated PG, through March 29, sponsored by Dr. Stanley Bise, M.D.)  Coming soon is The Miracle Worker (April 5 through May 17, rated G and co-sponsored by Lauren and Mason Fox, and by Crossville, Inc.). Tickets and information are also available for the Southern Stars Symphonic Brass Band, and other events.

All CCP productions are made possible through sponsor support, with additional support provided by the Tennessee Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.