THEATER TALK: Hathaway And Epstein Tackle Musical Theater
"Les Miserables," while Jake Epstein ("Degrassi: The Next Generation") will step into the role of Will in the national tour of "American Idiot."
Hathaway, who sang in her gigs as Ella Enchanted in the movie of the same name and in the 2002 City Center Encores! production of "Carnival!" in New York, has not yet been in as high-profile of a musical as "Les Miz," though she was rumored to have been considered for roles in the recent movie adaptations of "Phantom of the Opera" and "Sweeney Todd." Hathaway sang a parody of "On My Own" for the Oscars when she hosted, though that song is sung by another character in the show. As Fantine, the young mother with an illegitimate child, Hathaway will be tackling the monumental ballad "I Dreamed a Dream," and dealing with a very meaty role. However, Hathaway has proved again and again to be a capable dramatic actress, so she should be able to step into the iconic role with ease. Tom Hooper ("The King's Speech") directs the cast, which also includes the previously-announced Hugh Jackman (with whom Hathaway duetted at the 2009 Academy Awards) as Jean Valjean and Russell Crowe as Inspector Javert.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story misidentified the character who sings "On My Own" in "Les Miz." It has been corrected.]
Epstein, who was most recently seen by American audiences as Melchior in the national tour of "Spring Awakening," following in Kyle Riabko's footsteps, will be playing the sedentary Will in "Idiot." The role is essentially pretty bare-bones, which leaves a lot of room for the actor to create a complex world for Will. Epstein, who played Craig Manning, a bipolar singer-songwriter on "Degrassi: The Next Generation," did a good job bringing Melchior to life in a likable way, though it will be interesting to see how his voice holds up with the Green Day score. Oddly enough, all of the actors who have appeared in both "Idiot" and "Spring Awakening" thus far have played and/or understudied the role of Moritz, not Melchior (see: John Gallagher Jr, Gerard Canonico, Brian Charles Johnson), excluding Krystina Alabado, who was in the ensemble of both "Idiot" and the "Spring Awakening" tour (at the same time as Epstein). Hopefully, Epstein will bring charm to the character Will, who could easily become an unlikable caricature. The tour will stop at the Ahmanson this spring.
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