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'Les Miz' lead enjoyed Flat Rock run

Rob Evan, the "Les Miserables" lead who has played the role before thousands on Broadway and beyond, says the size of the theater stage and the intimate family atmosphere made the Flat Rock Playhouse experience memorable.

"It was different and wonderful and interesting and it was great," he said in an interview.

When Vincent Marini, the Playhouse's producing artistic director, called Evan about playing the role of Jean Valjean, Evan accepted. He had worked with Marini when he performed Andew Lloyd Webber songs in the first Music on the Rock tribute.
"Vincent and I are longtime friends and I trust him a lot," he said.
Evan, a one-time high school linebacker and University of Georgia punter, had played Valjean on Broadway and in a national touring production.
"So when he asked me to come down this time it was a bigger commitment on my part but I trusted him to do 'Les Miz' the right way. It's been a big part of my life," he said.
The veteran actor said he enjoyed Flat Rock Bakery coffee every morning and was impressed at the quality of the sushi here.
He praised the set designers, the apprentice company and YouTheatre kids who played important roles.
Unlike Broadway stages or major theaters in big cities, the Playhouse has no overhead space to move sets on and off stage.
"And there's no automation," he said. "They have these slips where they slide things on and off. Everything else is pushed on by people. On Broadway it's all done by machinery. So this was all human sweat pushing these things on and off."
The apprentices "are killing themselves day and night because they feel so lucky and they're only getting paid $50 a week," he said. The emotion and the energy, he said, is "the difference between college football and pro football. When I played college football we did it because we loved it, and we just loved being out there. Pro football, they get a paycheck."
Evan worked with fifth grade twins Clancy and Samantha Penny, alternating as young Cosette, Clarke McDonald as Gavroche and Michelle Foster as young Eponine.
"Those little Penny girls, they stole my heart," he said. "Clarke was the real deal. They were as good as any kid actors that I've ever worked with on the show, and I've worked with a lot of them. I told them some of my young Cosettes went on to be big stars, like Lea Michelle, who is the star of 'Glee.' She was one of my young girls back when I did it on Broadway."
The last performance of the show after a six-week run at the Playhouse had the cast and crew sniffling between numbers and bawling during the finale and curtain call.
"Oh, gosh, it was super super emotional," he said. "But that's 'Les Miz.' It was the culmination of the show and friendships and these kids that have been out there for 13 weeks and this is kind of their moving on to bigger and better. Yeah, it was super-emotional."