By Alicia Hansen
As part of Playhouse Square’s Broadway Buzz program, Buzz Extra writer Alicia Hansen will take you behind the scenes of each KeyBank Broadway Series show in the 2018-19 season and interview a member of the show’s cast, crew or creative team. As Les Misérables plays in Cleveland October 30-November 18, 2018, Alicia spoke with Joshua Grosso, who plays Marius in the production.
You may have heard that I’m back serving as Playhouse Square‘s Community Engagement and Education’s blogger for the KeyBank Broadway Series for the fourth (!!!!) season running. Join me as I to take you behind the scenes to interview a member of the featured show’s cast, crew or creative team for each of the Broadway Series performances. The second show in the 2018-19 series is Les Misérables…
…and as a fun fact: I’ve never seen a professional production of this show! (I did see my brother-and-sister-in-laws star in a high school production about a decade ago though…)
Today on the blog, I’m sharing my Playhouse Square Behind the Curtain interview with Joshua Grosso, the actor who plays Marius in the production!
Tell us about yourself. How did you discover performing? How did it bring you to the theater, and specifically to this tour of Les Misérables? (If/how the theater/performing was a part of your upbringing; how did you get here professionally and involved with this show.)
I used to perform little plays at my dad’s church and such but I never really got into theater until high school. It was part of my scholarship at American Heritage that I must at least audition to be in the plays. If it wasn’t a requirement I probably wouldn’t have ever auditioned for my first show. One thing led to another and I found myself in a room in NYC with the creatives of Les Miz and the rest is history.
You were a previous winner of a Jimmy Award, which Cleveland theater audiences are familiar with thanks to Playhouse Square’s Dazzle Awards, a program of the non-profit’s education program. What was one take away from your involvement in the Jimmy Awards?
It’s become such a beast now. It’s always been a big deal and honor but my year was the year that it really got catapulted in the spotlight because of the PBS specials they did. It’s an amazing opportunity. Unlike anything that I had done up til that point. It really is an amazing opportunity to not only perform, but learn from professionals who do this for a living, and it served as a great inspiration.
You recently graduated with a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University. (Congrats, BTW!) Can you share a few thoughts on furthering your performing arts education compared to heading straight into show business right out of high school?
Thanks! It’s a tricky thing isn’t it? Because in this business, experience is also a great teacher and I now many people who have gone straight to work after high school. People can do that. For me, school was a place where I could fail. Try new things and fail again. It took a whole bunch of raw passion and energy and channeled it to something I could understand and hone. The best part about all of this, is that I haven’t stopped learning. It doesn’t stop after college. At least it shouldn’t.
It’s been said that Les Misérables is one of the greatest musicals ever created. What is it about this masterpiece, based on Victor Hugo’s timeless classic, that keeps audiences coming back since the early 1980s?
The themes honestly. It personalizes so many themes that we still struggle with today and will always struggle with. From the characters to the difficulties they face in that time, everyone has someone they can root for and someone they can strive to be in this musical.
Are there specific moments and/or songs in the show that are favorites for you? For the audience?
People (including myself) LOVE Bring Him Home. It's the show stopper for sure. As for me, the ABC cafe is probably my favorite scene in the entire show. It’s quick but is really the only pivotal moment where you see the dynamics and comradery between the students.
What is it about this experience as a cast member with this tour that stands out from other productions that you’ve worked on?
The epicness of it all. The cast. The story. Too many moving parts to tell you which one is important you know? It takes a village to put the show up 8 times a week in different cities. To come to work in a new place and know that you have something loved by so many is a great joy but also a great responsibility to have. I look forward to the challenge every day.
Les Misérables runs October 30 – November 18, 2018 in the Connor Palace at Playhouse Square. For more information, please visit the show’s page on the Playhouse Square website.