Dear West End Producer: What’s the best way for a theatre journalist to get a part in Les Mis?
— Matt Hemley (@MattHemley) March 21, 2016
Firstly, you need a beard. I have known you for many years now and I have never seen anything more than a little tuft of bum fluff protruding from your youthful pores. Perhaps you haven’t reached puberty yet, or maybe you have a particularly close shave every morning.
Either way, it is essential you have some sort of facial hair to even be considered for a role in Les Miserables. Even if you are a woman.
So I suggest you rub some beard oil into your face first thing in the morning and last thing at night, to try and cheat your biological system to think that it actually can produce one. However, if this fails, you should just use hair from another part of your body and apply it to your face with superglue.
Next you should stop writing and use your fingering skills for another use.
If you want to play the role of Valjean, you should use your fingers to steal some bread, rip open your shirt, and lift a runaway cart. If you want to play Thenardier, your fingers should be utilised to pick your nose and put whatever you find up there into your home baking. And if you want to play Javert, your fingering skills should be used on your truncheon.
After perfecting this, you must learn to shout in tune. Shouting in tune is the same as singing, only louder.
On top of this, you must master the ‘vacant staring out front technique’ – where you yearningly and pointlessly look at the audience during your solos, and dramatically run downstage on a key change (trying not to fall into the orchestra pit).
You must also dedicate months to learn the choreography for One Day More. Anyone will tell you that Les Mis is one of the hardest dance shows there is, and perfecting the iconic ‘step forward, step back’ movement is a lifelong commitment.
When practising, it is recommended you go to a bar and get sloshed – as this will be exactly what it feels like to walk on the revolve.
Another tip is that you make every move look passionate and masculine. The casting directors love big, butch movements. So Matt, this is something you really need to work on.
Basically accentuate everything with a fist in the air, a tightening of your jaw, and a beating of your heart. This is a very useful character choice for any scene on the barricade. Be big, butch, and not Biggins, dear.
If you follow the above advice, particularly the facial hair, then you will definitely get a recall. At this point you will be sent material to work on.
The best way of doing this is to buy the most recent cast recording and copy what they’ve done. Because let’s be honest, you won’t be hired because you can offer something new, you’ll be hired because you can do what the person before you did.
Do this, and you can wave goodbye to your career at The Stage, and wave hello to the Equity minimum wage of a West End actor. Good luck, dear.
Send questions to your dear agony aunt via Twitter @westendproducer
We need your help…
When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.
The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.
We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.
Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.