'Les Misérables' actor steps into Valjean's well-worn shoes - LancasterOnline: Entertainment

'Les Misérables' actor steps into Valjean's well-worn shoes

Actor happy to return to Lancaster to take lead role in hit musical

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Posted: Thursday, June 11, 2009 12:39 pm

'In "Les Misérables," Jean Valjean ages from a young man to an elderly father.

Gregg Goodbrod will be doing the same at the Fulton, when he portrays the hero of what many consider to be the most popular Broadway musical of all time, based on the Victor Hugo novel of the same name.

Goodbrod has played the role of Marius in the musical, at a Pioneer Theatre performance in Salt Lake City. As Marius, he was the young man smitten with Valjean's adopted daughter. Now's his chance to take on the starring role of Valjean, and age in just a few hours from his 30s to nearly 60.

He's not worried about looking the part. Makeup, wigs and costumes will work that miracle on stage.

"What I'm looking forward to is showing a man who makes a mistake and finds redemption. I like the growth, the journey that Valjean makes from doing wrong to doing good," says the 36-year-old actor.

Goodbrod is also intrigued by the relentless cat-and-mouse game that police detective Javert plays with Valjean. As a young man, Valjean had stolen a loaf of bread to feed his starving family. Jailed for 19 years for his crime, he is finally released, so desperate that he steals once again from a man who only shows him kindness. He makes a promise to care for the child of a sick woman who begs for his help, then finds redemption through his good deeds. All the while Javert hunts him down, keeping Valjean and young Cosette on the run for 17 long years.

"Javert is a man who sees things in black and white. He cannot show Valjean the mercy that Valjean eventually shows him," observes Goodbrod.

Exploring the psychological aspects of characters is what Goodbrod enjoys most about being an actor. His own leap from being a biology major at King College in Tennessee to being an actor, bartender and singer in a New York wine bar occurred quite by accident.

"It was my father's idea, although it's not really what he intended," says Goodbrod.

The Williamsport native was all set to pursue a career in marine biology, when his father, Louis Goodbrod, suggested that he might want to try out for a community theatre role. He got the part, and enjoyed it so much that he switched gears and transferred to Shenandoah University's theater program.

Through the years, he has played a variety of roles, including Trevor in "Thoroughly Modern Millie," Lancelot in "Camelot," Jesus in "Jesus Christ Superstar," Radames in "Aida," Lt. Cable in "South Pacific" and the Beast in "Beauty and the Beast."

"My favorite role was here at the Fulton in 'The Secret Garden,' with Michael Mitchell," says Goodbrod, noting that portraying Archibald Craven was a joy for him, as was working with the cast and crew of the Fulton.

Goodbrod is happy to be back in the "family" of the Fulton and is enjoying working with the Fulton's new artistic director Marc Robin. His father will be coming to see the show, along with other family members from Pennsylvania.

He is also thrilled to be singing some of the most beautiful songs ever written for musical theater, such as the heartbreaking "Bring Him Home." The tenor realizes that some will be comparing his performance to those of Colm Wilkinson and other famous Valjeans.

"I will be my own version of Valjean, and sing in my voice. That's what being an actor is all about. Interpreting the character in my own way," says Goodbrod.

"Les Miserables"

Opens tonight (Thurs.)

Cont. through July 12

Wed. 2 and 7:30 p.m.

Thurs. 7:30 p.m.; Fri. 8 p.m.

Sat. 2 and 8 p.m.; Sun. 2 p.m.

$20-$48

Fulton Theater, 12 N. Prince St.

397-7425

www.thefulton.org

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