Beyond the Barricades: Les MisÚrables' Jean Valjean

By Playbill Staff
March 22, 2014

The Tony Award-winning, international hit musical Les Misérables by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg will officially open on Broadway in a new revival March 23.



In celebration of the new production, starring West End actor Ramin Karimloo as Jean Valjean, Andy Mientus as Marius, Samantha Hill as Cosette, Tony Award nominee Will Swenson as Javert, West End and Broadway actress Caissie Levy as Fantine, Tony Award winner Nikki M. James as Eponine, Kyle Scatliffe as Enjolras, Canadian actor Cliff Saunders as Thenardier and Tony Award nominee Keala Settle as Madame Thenardier, Playbill.com is looking back at a selection of Les Miz leading players who came before.

This week we look at Les Misérables' Jean Valjean.

Check out previous Beyond the Barricades features, spotlighting Thénardier and Madame Thénardier, Marius and Cosette, Eponine, Javert and Fantine.

Click through for a tour of actors who previously stood behind the barricades.

Colm Wilkinson and Roger Allam
Colm Wilkinson is known for originating the role of Jean Valjean in Les Misérables in the 1985 London production and the 1987 Broadway bow. He received the 1987 Theatre World and Outer Critics Circle awards for his performance and was nominated for a Drama Desk and a Tony. He reprised the role of Jean Valjean in the Les Misérables 10th anniversary concert and appeared as a special guest at the 25th anniversary celebrations at the O2 arena, where he performed as part of a "Valjean Quartet" alongside Alfie Boe, John Owen-Jones and Simon Bowman. Wilkinson appeared as the Bishop of Digne in the 2012 film adaptation of Les Miz, which starred Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean, and in a special charity performance of Les Miz in Toronto. Following the charity performance, held Jan. 11, he offered a special version of "Bring Him Home" with Ramin Karimloo.

Alexander Gemignani
Alexander Gemignani starred as Jean Valjean in the 2006 Broadway revival of Les Misérables. Gemignani, a Theatre World winner for Assassins, plays the Father in the upcoming Broadway revival of Violet and has also been seen on Broadway in The People in the Picture, Sunday in the Park With George, Sweeney Todd and Assassins.

Alfie Boe, who was seen on Broadway as Rodolfo in Baz Luhrmann's La Bohème, played the role of Jean Valjean in Les Misérables at The Queens Theatre in London and was also seen in Cameron Mackintosh's 25th anniversary celebration of the show at London's 02 Arena. He is a regular performer with London's English National Opera, where he has played Nadir in The Pearl Fishers, and was seen at the Royal Opera House in Gounod's Roméo et Juliette.

Hugh Jackman
Photo by Universal Pictures
Hugh Jackman starred as Jean Valjean in the star-studded film adaptation of Les Misérables. His work in the film earned him his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor and his first Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. Jackman is a Tony Award winner for The Boy From Oz and a 2012 Special Tony Award recipient. He has also been seen on Broadway in A Steady Rain and Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway. He will host the 68th Annual Tony Awards, marking his fourth time as the evening's emcee.

John Owen-Jones
John Owen-Jones became the youngest person ever to play the role of Jean Valjean in 1998, when he took over in the London production at the age of 26. Owen-Jones also appeared in the choir of the 10th anniversary concert at the Royal Albert Hall and reprised his performance at the Queen's Theatre in London in 2005. Owen-Jones was also a replacement for the role of Valjean in the 2006 Broadway revival and also played the role in the 25th anniversary international touring production.

Robert Evan
Robert Evan was a replacement for the role of Jean Valjean in the original Broadway production of Les Miz. He has also been seen on Broadway in Jekyll & Hyde, Dance of the Vampires, Little Shop of Horrors and Tarzan.

Timothy Shew
Timothy Shew made his Broadway debut in the original production of Les Misérables and, in 1988, became the youngest actor to play Jean Valjean on Broadway. He has also performed the role in the national tour of Les Misérables in 1991, starred in the 10th anniversary Australian staging of the hit musical in 1997 and later returned to lead the Broadway production in 1999. In 2013 he played Jean Valjean in a special production of the musical at the Omaha Community Playhouse. His Broadway credits also include Guys and Dolls, Sunset Boulevard, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Wonderful Town and Evita.

Drew Sarich
Drew Sarich was a replacement for the roles of both Jean Valjean and Javert in the Broadway revival of Les Misérables. The actor, who was also seen on Broadway in Lestat, starred in the German production of Rocky.

J. Mark McVey
J. Mark McVey made his Broadway debut as Jean Valjean in Les Misérables and was the first American to perform the role in London's West End. In 2008 he reprised his performance with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl and again in the 25th anniversary tour of Les Miz. He's also been seen on Broadway in The Who's Tommy and The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public.

Simon Bowman
Simon Bowman played Marius in Les Misérables at The Palace Theatre and returned 14 years later in the role of Jean Valjean. He reprised the role of Jean Valjean at the West End's Queen's Theatre. Bowman also performed in the "Valjean Quartet" alongside Alfie Boe, Colm Wilkinson and John Owen-Jones in the 25th anniversary concert of Les Misérables.