Special to the AmNews
If you go to the theater to be moved, to cry and to feel inspired, then you must make plans to see the current revival of “Les Miserables,” playing at the Imperial Theatre on West 45th Street. Based on the incredible novel by Victor Hugo, the production boasts music by Claude-Michel Schonberg, lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer and direction by Laurence Connor and James Powell. One of the outstanding features of this production is the nontraditional casting of Brennyn Lark as Eponine. Lark, a Black actress from Norwalk, Conn., is playing the adult role of the character who is the daughter of two white parents, the innkeeper and his wife. The younger role of the character is played by a white actress, but the older is performed by Lark and it truly succeeds as colorblind casting.
Lark, a graduate of the AMDA Performing Arts Conservatory, has been performing the role for more than a year and is proud that this is her Broadway debut. She recently spoke with the AmNews about playing Eponine. “It’s completely surreal,” she said. “I never imagined Eponine would ever be a role I would get to take on. So it was shocking in all the best ways, and I also think it is a testament to the universe sort of just aligning itself when you trust it!”
Lark auditioned for the production while she was still attending AMDA and had four auditions. She recalled, “My agents sent me out to audition when I was still in school. The final callback being with the entire team. So I guess what got me the role was luck, preparation, timing and a team that had faith in me!”
Regarding being part of nontraditional casting at its best, Lark shared, “It feels so right. I believe as artists we create work that is meant to be outside of the box and seemingly abstract. I think it’s par for the course to have a diverse set of actors portraying these timeless characters. It is progressive and challenges the audience to see past color. It’s a beautiful thing!”
Lark’s performances of “On My Own” and “A Little Fall of Rain” are absolutely lovely and heartbreaking. Her talent is blatantly obvious and marvelous to experience. Discussing her craft, she stated, “I’m a hands-on kind of girl, so I learn a lot by doing and watching.”
Lark, who is a dream to watch onstage, realized early on that she wanted to be an actress. She shared, “I knew from a very young age! It was something that felt innate. Entertaining made me feel confident during some insecure times. It was an outlet for me to connect with others as well as an escape.”
Speaking on role models when she was growing up, Lark named her mother; artists-wise, she named Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson, as well as Martin Luther King and Oprah. Lark appreciated that her dream to be an actress was supported by her parents. “I have been so abundantly blessed to have parents that have always supported my crazy dreams.”
The role of Eponine is one of a heartbroken girl. She is in love with a man who does not feel the same about her and who asks her to find out information about another girl with whom he is instantly in love. Eponine fantasies that he loves her when she’s alone at night, and she eventually dies to save him. This role is emotionally draining, to say the least, so one has to wonder how Lark makes it fresh and new with every performance. “It’s tough at times!” she admitted. “But I think learning to be in the moment and to not be so judgmental on myself is the first step. I had to realize I am a human and not a robot. And of course aiming for consistency is the goal, but being nice to yourself is also important.”
“Les Miserables” is a musical that leaves the audience with strong emotions. Lark remarked about the powerful message of this musical. “It’s simple,” she said. “LOVE. Everything we do is based on fear or love, but our egos get the best of us. If we can step outside of ourselves and speak from the soul as opposed to the ego, we can experience love at its purest form!”
Seeing “Les Miserables” is an experience you will never forget and watching Lark perform will certainly be a most memorable experience.
For more information, visit www.lesmis.com.