Youngsters take Les Mis tips from the pros

TOUR ... some of the cast of Starset Theatre's forthcoming production of Les Mis�rables during the backstage tour of the Queens Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue.
TOUR ... some of the cast of Starset Theatre's forthcoming production of Les Mis�rables during the backstage tour of the Queens Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue.

YOUNGSTERS from the borough’s Starset Theatre will be singing the song of angry men when they perform famous musical Les Misérables.

The group, which is based in Boldon, is putting on the show at The Customs House, in South Shields, for the third time.

They staged it previously at the Mill Dam venue in 2008 and 2012, and are confident they’ll enjoy success with it again.

The show – often referred to as Les Mis – is based on a French historical novel by Victor Hugo.

It follows the life of ex-convict Jean Valjean, who is released from prison after 19 years, after being convicted of stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister’s starving children.

John Hudson, the founder and musical director of the stage school, said: “We were astounded by the talent of our first cast, and the audience response to the show – everybody wanted us to repeat Les Misérables.

“Eventually, in 2012, we bowed to pressure from both our students and our audiences.

“Again, it was a phenomenal production, with standing ovations actually during the shows, not just at the end.

“The most difficult aspect of that production was casting – there were so many talented students to choose from that it made our decision very difficult, and we actually brought in another theatre director to help us audition. It seemed unfair that so many good students missed out so narrowly on such famous roles, so the only fair thing to do, was to perform again in 2014 and give some of the others a chance.”

The show’s director, Elissa Hudson, added: “Not only were the students asking to perform Les Mis again – some of them for a third time – but theatre audiences were asking us for it too.

“The release of the film, starring Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, led to people saying they wished they had another chance to see it live.

“When so many people were asking whether we would perform the show again, it was a simple decision.”

In preparation for the show, Elissa took a group of students and parents on a trip to London to experience the professional production, as well as take a backstage tour of the Queen’s Theatre, which has been the home of Les Misérables since 2004.

The students also took part in a professional workshop on the themes and characters of Les Mis.

Elissa added: “It was a busy, but fabulous, couple of days. The students and their parents got a great insight to the show by seeing the professional production, and were then able to follow that up with a backstage tour of the theatre and the show, with opportunities to go on stage, touch the scenery and props used by the West End cast, try on original costumes and quiz the tour guides for backstage tips and information.

“The workshop, run by the education department of Les Misérables was exciting but also thought-provoking, giving the students lots to think about when developing their characters.”

Les Misérables runs at The Customs House on Saturday, July 12 and Sunday, July 13, with performances at 2pm and 7pm each day.

Tickets cost from £11. To book, go to or call the box office on 454 1234.

Twitter: @shieldsgazvicki