With its glorious staging and dazzlingly reimagined scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo, the breathtaking production of Les Misérables will run at the Hippodrome Theatre from Tuesday, October 9th to Sunday, October 14th. Set in early 19th-century France, Les Misérables is the story of Jean Valjean, a French peasant, and his quest for redemption after serving 19 years in jail for having stolen a loaf of bread for his sister’s starving child. Valjean decides to break his parole and start his life anew after a kindly bishop inspires him by an act of mercy, but he is relentlessly tracked down by a police inspector named Javert. Along the way, Valjean and a slew of characters are swept into a revolutionary period in France, where a group of young idealists make their last stand at a street barricade. Baltimore OUTloud recently chatted with John Ambrosino who plays the roles of Bamatabois and Claquesous in the production.
“This musical, Les Misérables, is an epic story of humans overcoming adversity and hope for all of us in the world,” began Ambrosino. “It’s an epic story of the quest of one man, and love in your youth. Ultimately, what people find is a story of great humanity, and audiences leave with a great sense of hope. Everything about this production, from the way it’s acted to the way it’s designed, is done to give the audience that experience. And, it gives people that experience night after night.”
Along with playing a feature ensemble character, Ambrosio also plays multiple characters throughout the show. “At one point, I play a rather sinister man who goes to the docks to terrorize women – specifically, ‘women of the night’ as it were. He clearly has, in my interpretation of the character, some sort of sexual ambiguity and sexual dangerousness. What’s exciting about the character that I play is his evilness propels the character of Fantine forward to Jean Valjean. Unbeknownst to Jean Valjean he has led to her being thrown out of her job and she has to take up with being a woman of the night. My character terrorizes her and exerts all type of power – male domination power, money, and bourgeois power. He brings her to the forefront, so Jean Valjean can meet her again and realize what his actions have caused.”
What makes the story so enduring is its universal themes. “I think the story of Jean Valjean is something that anyone can really connect to. A story of having been wrongfully accused of something. Having to overcome the adversity to that and inspiring hope out of what seems like an impossible situation. And, I think everyone at some point has felt on the outskirts of something. They have grappled with what to do and how to do it and hopefully many people have done that and succeeded. It’s [Jean Valjean’s] humanity, and his hope that we fall in love with every night. The secondary characters, as well, are finding their way to the same thing. If you follow Valjean or Éponine or Cosette, they are all striving for the same things. There’s a way for people to connect and for people to strive to be a better person, to fall in love and strive to stay there. In the magic of musical theater, the music and staging in this production are exceptional. All those things together is what makes this show not only iconic but a mainstay for what we consider a great evening in the theater.”
John Ambrosino plays the roles of Bamatabois and Claquesousk in Hippodrome’s Les Mis
- Since 2011, arts writer Frankie Kujawa has covered a wide scope of entertainment stories and celebrity interviews. From the late Carrie Fisher and LGBTQ icon George Takei to comedians Lily Tomlin and Kathy Griffin to performer Idina Menzel, Kujawa’s candid interview ability brings readers past the byline and into the heart of the story. His unbiased previews of Baltimore-Washington’s theatre scene have allowed readers an inside glimpse of today’s most popular local and national performances. A Baltimore-native, Kujawa is proud to call Charm City his home.