Meet the Lovers of Reston Community Players’ ‘Les Misérables’ by Diane Schnoor

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When Reston Community Players opens its stirring production of the Tony Award-winning musical Les Misérables on January 17th, three incredibly talented young actors will anchor its heart-wrenching love triangle. Meet Emma Lord, Sean Bartnick, and Cara Bachman, who play Eponine, Marius, and Cosette.

On My Own: Eponine (Emma Lord).
“On My Own”: Eponine (Emma Lord). Photo by David Ford.

Emma Lord, a recent graduate of the University of Virginia and an aspiring singer/songwriter, landed the plum role of love-starved Eponine. Past roles include Wendla in Spring Awakening, but Eponine is Emma’s dream role.

ABC Café: Enjolrus (Scott Harrison) and Marius (Sean Bartnick).
ABC Café: Enjolras (Scott Harrison) and Marius (Sean Bartnick). Photo by David Ford.

Sean Bartnick, a student at NOVA and George Mason University, plays the revolutionary student, Marius. Past roles include Sancho Panza in Man of La Mancha, Cornelius Hackl in Hello Dolly!, and Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Marius (Sean Bartnick) and Cosette (Cara Bachman) comfort a dying Jean Valjean (Michael Reid).
Marius (Sean Bartnick) and Cosette (Cara Bachman) comfort a dying Jean Valjean (Michael Reid). Photo by David Ford.

Cara Bachman, a junior at South County High School in Lorton, VA. plays the loving Cosette. Past shows include Oklahoma!, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Pippin, and Bat Boy.

Diane: What is your favorite part about being in Reston Players’ Les Misérables

Emma:  I sometimes just have to blink and snap myself back into the real world because I can’t believe it’s happening. I have been obsessed with this show ever since I can remember. I legitimately learned all the words in French and read the book multiple times and spent the entire summer I turned sixteen meticulously studying revolutionary France and writing over 100,000 words of Les Mis fanfiction. I never do anything halfway, and when I nerd out, I nerd out hardcore. Eponine has always been my dream role. I never thought in a million lifetimes I would be able to be in a production of  Les Misérables – let alone play Eponine. I feel like I made this all up in my head!

Sean: I think it’s a combo of really understanding the character from the book and then the character from the musical and trying to find a balance. Assistant Director Lee Slivka has been great just encouraging me to develop the character as much as I can. I wanted to play this role because I want people to see that Marius isn’t just some lover boy. He’s conflicted and torn between Cosette and the Revolution. Then, he sees how much his friend Eponine actually loves him. At the same time, he knows that his death could be his only way out. When he does survive, he sees all that his friends have done for him and it’s an incredibly humbling experience. After finding out Valjean is the reason he’s alive, he realizes that the only way he can repay all that is to protect and love Cosette for the rest of his life. She is the symbol of hope.

Cara: I know I speak on behalf of countless people when I say Les Misérables  has changed who I am as a person. In addition to having one of the most beautiful scores ever to be created, that very score accompanies this truly inspiring story. It has so many totally different subplots, it absolutely has something for everyone. And another thing is just how universal it is. Yes, it is set in 19th century France and follows criminals and revolutionaries, but it is so much beyond that. Les Misérables shows the very best and the very worst of humanity. It so objectively explores the ways different scenarios appear to different viewpoints, with a set of characters so real and so beautifully written, each personifying the different parts of us all.

What do you like and dislike most about your character?

Emma: What I like most about Eponine is how relatable she is as a character. What musical theater nerd HASN’T spent at least a small portion of their angst-ridden teenage years blasting “On My Own” and crying in a closet? Everybody has been in a situation where they love someone who is either oblivious or doesn’t love them back. It’s a painful, visceral kind of feeling and it’s nice to have a character that gives an outlet to those feelings for people.

Sean: I like the struggle that Marius has of choosing between the fight and his love, and the solace he feels when he is the only one left. I hate that I end up with no friends (kidding, but it would be nice to have let one of them live).

Cara: Oh, Cosette….Well as Les Misérables fans of any degree know, Cosette has somewhat of a undeserved bad rep. Cosette is a wonderful, wonderful person. She just genuinely cares about the people around her no matter who they are or what they’ve done. She puts her love of others above all else, she carries this ineffable joy, and people are drawn to her like a magnet. Fantine, Valjean, and Marius are simply driven by their unconditional love for her. She overcomes the depths of adversity in flying colors and grows to be a truly incredible young woman. I would be lucky to one day be half the person she is! In the book, Victor Hugo writes about Cosette, “It shall be remembered that she was more of a lark than a dove. There was a foundation of wildness and bravery in her.”

What makes the Reston Community Players’ Les Misérables a must-see for audiences?

Emma: This experience feels different from other shows because it is so well cast. In the first rehearsals I was completely blown away by how everybody was so perfect for their character that it felt completely impossible for me to accept that anyone else had ever played the roles, as if I dreamed up this cast in my head for years and then got lucky enough to find out they were REAL. People should come see the show because every person on this planet should see Les Misèrables at least once. And for the people who have already experienced the magic — I can promise you that you’ve never seen a cast with as much heart as this one!

Cara: This show is the greatest musical of all time, and with every minute you spend in rehearsal you just know you’re a part of something so special. I often have to pinch myself when I remember that I’m actually in it! But additionally, this company is just so unbelievably special. It is a rare privilege to be part of such a group—caring , devoted, and, not to mention, supremely talented. From top to bottom, every member is beyond dedicated, immensely welcoming and full of wonderful ideas. This process has been so enriching on so many fronts, and I couldn’t ask for a better collection of people to share the experience of being able to be a part of this breathtaking story. I am forever grateful to each and every one of these people for not only the experience, but the opportunity. Reston Community Players’ Les Misérables is a spectacular retelling of the greatest story on Earth. Why wouldn’t you come see it?

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Emma, Sean, and Cara appear in the Reston Player’s new production of Les Misérables from January 17-February 9, 2014 at CenterStage at the Reston Community Center – 2310 Colts Neck Road, in Reston, VA.

Performances are January 17th, 18th, 24th, 25th, 26th, 30th, and 31st, and February 1st, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th at 8 PM. There are 2 PM matinees on January 26th and February 9th, and on February1st and 8th there are both 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m performances.. For tickets, call the box office at (703) 476-4500 x3, or purchase them online.

CenterStage is handicap accessible and offers listening devices for the hearing impaired.