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