Tuesday, November 26, 2013

MIchelle Harwell (Ensemble)

What is your role in Les Mis?  
I start as a factory worker in Montreuil, and then I transform into the old woman who buys Fantine's necklace at the docks. Then I become a beggar in Paris, and finally a mother who helps the students at the barricades. 

What have you enjoyed the most?
I love singing with this ensemble full of musically gifted people.  Especially because two of them are my daughters!

What has been your greatest challenge?
With such a large cast, I was dreading the crowding and foot traffic that seemed inevitable backstage. But it's actually quite roomy back there. For a cast of 70, plus crew and orchestra, it is surprisingly easy to get around for scene changes. Peter put a lot of thought into the set design behind what the audience sees, and we have a beyond-excellent stage crew who run a tight ship.

What other shows have you been in?  
I have been cast in Imagination Theater productions as a crabby apple tree in Wizard of Oz, an operatic armoire in Beauty and the Beast, an obsessively organized secretary in Father of the Bride, a mischievous magical queen in Camelot, and a melodious apparition in The Secret Garden. Performing on stage, especially musicals, is something that my family did together while I growing up, and now I am able to share it with my children. It is a lot of work but very rewarding.  

What is your motto or final thought to say?
There are no small parts. The amount of lines you have in the script, or the amount of time you have onstage, does not define how important your character is.  You get out of it what you put into it. Put your heart and soul into your character, and it will come to life and be noticed. My youngest daughter was cast as a butterfly in a show with about 15 seconds of stage time, and no lines. But she put everything she had into that butterfly, including creating her own makeup design, and her own interpretation of what a butterfly would be. She moved so beautifully, so gracefully, and then died so tragically. It was very moving. It was just a child's play. But she created something that no one else has ever done nor will ever do again the same way.  That is the art of performing.