Hilary Gauld-Camilleri/Drayton Entertainment Photo
David Rogers never thought one of the signature roles of musical theatre was within his grasp.
So when the co-artistic director at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia was offered the role of Jean Valjean in Drayton Entertainment’s production of Les Miserables he stopped to think about it. It wasn’t just the prospect of extra work during his busy summer season that Rogers was worried about.
“This is one of the major roles for the musical theater,” Rogers told The Independent. “I thought it was never really was within my grasp…I wanted to play this role…but I wanted to make sure it was something I could do because it is a challenge. Vocally, it is a challenge because it has a huge range…and physically it’s a marathon.”
After singing through the role, Rogers accepted the challenge in part because he missed being on stage. Rogers career has spanned over 20 years including a five-year run in Phantom of the Opera.
“I don’t ever want to stop doing this,” Rogers says of being on stage. “I don’t ever want to stop singing I want to do it as long as I can.”
But there were downsides for the man who is used to being on the other side of the stage directing. “I do miss having control…you only have control over your own role, can’t give other actors notes.”
But he says his experience at VPP helped on stage as well, giving him better insight into what a director might need from a certain scene.
The Drayton production of Les Miserables playing until Aug. 30 at Huron County Playhouse has played in a number of theatres in southern Ontario to good reviews including those calling Rogers’ portrait of Jean Valjean as “powerful but sensitive… with a strong voice easily soaring to rock star heights.”
While the positive reception has been good, it’s not enough to pull Rogers away from his work in Petrolia permanently.
“I’ve missed the Playhouse…We will have opened five shows in the time that I’ve been gone,” he says. “I missed the creativity of it all the different types of shows. Doing this show is great doing the same show every day. The stream of talent that comes through the Playhouse – I’ve missed all of that.”
Rogers says the summer has gone smoothly since he and co-artistic director David Hogan put in long hours over the winter to make sure the season runs smoothly.
And it has worked. “My loyalty belongs to the Playhouse but I want to keep my name out there as well and I’ve met new talent being out there in the world of theatre again.”