J. Mark McVey, left, was 29 when he first played Jean Valjean. At 54, the actor is still playing the valiant hero of Les Miserables. He's done the role in five different productions, including Broadway, London's West End, the Hollywood Bowl and now the 25th anniversary tour.
"I'm closing in on 3,100 performances of the show itself. And about 2,900 as Valjean," says McVey, who had 200 performances as Brujon in the first national tour in 1988-89. He joined the current tour last June.
What makes this time around special is that his daughter, Kylie, 8, is playing Little Cosette, whom Valjean raises in the musical. "We get to play father and daughter on stage, which is an absolute blast and a blessing," he says.
Kylie and another girl, Juliana Simone, alternate the roles of Little Cosette and Young Eponine. There are three other children in the cast.
McVey's wife, Christy Tarr-McVey — also an actor; they met while both were in The Who's Tommy on Broadway — and their other daughter, Grace, 11, are also traveling with the show.
"Being on the road is always tough, when you're by yourself, so we decided to make it a family affair and have the experience of a lifetime," McVey says.
McVey is not scheduled to be in Les Miserables today, Friday and Saturday, when understudies Richard Todd Adams and Joe Tokarz will rotate in the role. McVey returns Sunday to complete the run in Tampa.
John Fleming, Times performing arts critic
BY THE NUMBERS
In Broadway history Les Miserables is the third-longest running show after The Phantom of the Opera and Cats. Here are some other facts about the musical from its website, www.lesmis.com.
21Number of languages Les Miserables has been translated into, including Japanese, Hebrew and even Estonian.
41Number of countries in which the show has played, from Argentina to Iceland to the Czech Republic. That includes 291 cities.
Number of professional performances worldwide.
The biggest single live audience to date, at the 1989 Australia Day concert in Sydney.
392Number of costumes in each performance, consisting of
some 1,782 items of clothing and 31 wigs.
IF YOU GO
The musical by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg runs through Feb. 12 at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa. $55-$110. (813) 229-7827 or toll-free 1-800-955-1045; strazcenter.org.
• Look for a review of Les Miserables on Etc, Page 2B, later this week.
No, no, not like the rather forgettable drama made in 1998. This one is an adaptation of the stage musical with some big names in the cast, according to imdb.com: Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean, Russell Crowe as Javert, Amanda Seyfried as Cosette, Sacha Baron Cohen as Thernardier, Anne Hathaway as Fantine and Helena Bonham Carter as Madame Thenardier. And the possibility that is causing the most buzz: Taylor Swift as Eponine. The Universal film, directed by Oscar winner Tom Hooper (The King's Speech) is slated to begin filming in March, with a Dec. 7 release date.