For those who are familiar with Victor Hugo’s classic novel, “Les MisÃ©rables”, the protagonist Jean Valjean is almost synonymous with selfless virtue and a timeless reflection of Christ’s love for all of humanity in spite of sin. Colm Wilkinson, widely considered to be the greatest actor to ever portray the character, once completely silenced his fellow cast members after an amazingly heartfelt performance. The director reminded them that he’d warned them the show was about God, to which one actor replied, “yes, but you didn’t tell us you’d engaged Him to sing it.”
Senior musical theator major, Jace Reinhard, who will be portraying Valjean over the course of the Homecoming production of “Les MisÃ©rables”, has experienced his own personal transformation through portraying Valjean.
“I first encountered the music of “Les MisÃ©rables” through my grandfather,” he said. “I’ve come to realize what a beautiful, powerful story it is, and it continues to move me even after the dozens of times I’ve been exposed to it.”
Reinhard was impressed after seeing the 2012 film adaptation of the musical by the performance of Hugh Jackman, not only for his acting skills but for how he opened the role of Valjean to “not-so-brawny” actors.
Over thirty years after he was first seen on stage, Jean Valjean remains an incredibly moving icon, bridging the gap between Broadway and Christianity.
“He is such a clear example of the saving power of God’s love. Valjean starts in an incredibly hopeless place, one where we have all been according to Paul’s letter to the Romans, and God reaches him through one radical act of forgiveness and generosity from the Bishop,” Reinhard said, reflecting on how he personally connects with the character.
“If I could choose one thing for every audience member to take away from watching our show, I would want them to see that leading a life of self-sacrifice and choosing to show grace in every situation can make a huge difference for the Kingdom of God in the lives of the people around them.”