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JD student discusses role in 'Les Miserables'

Rachel Heyman, right, stars as Madame Thenardier in JD’s production of “Les Miserables,” which opened last night and continues with three performances this weekend at JDHS Osborn Auditorium.

Rachel Heyman, right, stars as Madame Thenardier in JD’s production of “Les Miserables,” which opened last night and continues with three performances this weekend at JDHS Osborn Auditorium. Provided

— Rachel Heyman of DeWitt paused briefly during a rehearsal to answer a few questions about her role as one of the leading characters in the upcoming production of “Les Miserables” at Jamesville Dewitt High School.

She’s a senior this year with lots of earlier stage performances, but she makes it clear that this one is a real challenge, as well as a great experience.

Is it lonely up there on stage?

“Not really. Not where it counts. My mom supports me in many ways and is always there to offer encouragement. Of course, my dad helps, too. He not only worked on the set but he’s actually playing keyboard in the pit orchestra this year. It’s going to be great having him so close.”

You’ve been in other school plays?

“Well, last year I played Aunty Em in “The Wiz” and in eight grade I was Miss Hannigan in “Annie.” I actually started doing this when I was in second grade, in a show put on by The Talent Company.”

Didn’t you appear once before in Les Miz?

“Yes. Back in 2003 I played Eponine as a young girl. I was nine years younger then and it was a great experience to work with older kids. I learned a lot about theater and how it works.”

Do you like your role this time as Madame Thenardier?

“Oh, yes! It’s very challenging, really hard work. And yet it’s great experience because I’m way out of my comfort zone. On stage I have to think every minute about the way I walk; even how I look at people. The character I’m playing is so fun though, because she is so evil and so different from who I am.”

So it takes lots of practicing and learning lines?

“Oh yes. First we have to become familiar with the music and then memorize all the words. And this character is right at the center of the action several times.”

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