If anyone passes Elisa Bryant in the car on the way to Canberra, expect to see her belting out tunes from Les Miserables – the Braidwood Central School teacher will be performing in a Free-Rain production of Les Mis in April.
With a full time teaching load, 12-20 hours of rehearsals and 10 hours travel a week, it’s the only chance Ms Bryant has to learn the parts.
"I think I'm balancing it well,” says Ms Bryant “I don't really think many people at school have noticed – I'm not falling asleep at my desk, I’m not getting things in late, my kids aren’t suffering as students.”
Les Miserables is being produced by Free-Rain Theatre Company, one of Australia’s premier amateur theatre groups. Based in the Courtyard Studios at Canberra Theatre, past productions include Legally Blond, The Little Mermaid and Wicked.
The company hires professional performers in lead roles, as part of its aim to provide professional tutelage and mentoring for young performers. Peter Cousens, known for roles in television Australian television productions such as ‘Sons and Daughters’, and ‘The Restless Year’s, as well as in the London West End Production of ‘the Phantom of the Opera,’ as Jean Valjean. Sam Ward, a graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts known for his musical theatre work, will be playing Marius.
Working alongside theatre professionals has been enormously helpful for Ms Bryant, who says, "they kind of set a standard in the room and then also, they are really helpful and kind and generous with their time and energy."
An opera singer by training, Ms Bryant completed a Bachelor of Music and Drama at the University of Wollongong, before becoming a teacher. She teaches English and Drama at the Braidwood Central School.
"I had Free Rain in mind for a long time," she says, having previously auditioned for several past productions. Les Miserables was perfect for her abilities, as her role in the chorus requires the ability to reach an operatic C6.
Described as one of the most popular musicals in the world, Les Miserables follows Jean Valjean through early nineteenth century France as he breaks parole to seek a new life after his release from prison, and his pursuer Inspector Javert who refuses to believe Valjean can change his ways.
It’s been a great experience and she’d love to do it again, but with two dogs, two cats and a partner at home, she might have to limit her ambitions. “Probably I could manage one a year” says Ms Bryant.
Les Miserables will be playing at the Q-Queanbeyan from April 4 to 22. Tickets can be bought at theq.net.au/les-miserables/