Cedar City, UT –The Utah Shakespeare Festival recently announced the casting of J. Michael Bailey, a Utah actor, to play the lead role of Jean Valjean in the epic musical Les Misérables. After conducting a national casting search in New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles, artistic directors David Ivers and Brian Vaughn found Bailey in the Festival's own backyard.
"We were familiar with J. Michael's work because he's from the Salt Lake City area and was in the Festival's 2009 and 2010 acting company. After hearing his incredible audition tape, we knew we had to hear him sing in person," said both Ivers and Vaughn.
The artistic team, along with director Brad Carroll, flew Bailey to Las Vegas and had him sing through the entire score. "We needed to know if J. Michael had the vocal strength and range to withstand the demands of this show, and he nailed it," said Ivers. Vaughn commented that there is a lot of local talent in this state and is pleased they were able to give this opportunity to a Utah resident.
Bailey grew up on a small farm in Clinton, Utah where he played football and rode horses. He was 18 when he saw his first production of The Phantom of the Opera and fell in love with the theatre. He studied musical theatre at Weber State University and now has over 20 years of experience acting and singing all over the state.
Having previously worked with the Utah Shakespeare Festival, Bailey is familiar and comfortable with the Festival environment and is thrilled to be returning to Cedar City. "I am so grateful that the Festival is trusting me to play Jean Valjean," said Bailey. "My sights have been on this role for a long time. With three children of my own, I feel a strong attachment to Valjean because of the passion and sacrifices he's willing to make for his child. Les Misérables is the ultimate love story with justice, redemption, forgiveness, truth and hope; what more could an actor ask for?"
Based on Victor Hugo's classic novel, Les Misérables is an epic and uplifting story about the survival of the human spirit. It focuses on the struggles of ex-convict Jean Valjean as he searches for meaning, love, and redemption in nineteenth century France. The musical includes some of theatre's most memorable songs: "I Dreamed a Dream," "On My Own," "Bring Him Home," and "Do You Hear the People Sing," among many others.
Written and composed by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg with lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer, Les Misérables is the world's longest running musical. It will be playing in the Festival's Randall L. Jones Theatre from June 23 to October 20.
Dates for Les Misérables, as well the calendar and casting updates for the 51st season are on the Festival website. For more information or to buy tickets call 1-800-PLAYTIX or check online at www.bard.org.