In Part 8 of our series of interviews with the director and cast of Kensington Arts Theatre’s Les Misérables, meet Camryn Shegogue.
Joel: Please introduce yourself, tell us who you play, and where local theatregoers may have seen you perform.
Camryn: My name is Camryn Shegogue, and I am so thrilled to be playing the role of Eponine in KAT’s production of Les Misérables! I’ve been performing in community and regional theatre since I was 6 years old, mainly at Rockville Musical Theatre, BlackRock Center for the Arts, and Damascus Theatre Company.
Why did you want to be in this production and play the character you are playing? What do you admire or not admire about your character?
Funny enough, I have had this ongoing obsession with Les Misérables for a few years now, really starting after I went to see the touring production at the National Theatre. After the movie was released in 2012, I grew more attached to the story, the characters, and the music, and I simply fell in love with the show itself. Pretty much anyone I know can vouch for me when I say I am the walking, talking Les Mis encyclopedia.
What I love most about Eponine is her strength. Even though her life is miserable (pun most definitely intended) in practically every aspect, she manages to pull through with the strength and heart of someone beyond her years. The fact that she still holds on to the one tiny glimmer of light there is in her life (Marius), even when her whole world comes crashing down on her, is admirable. She is a true martyr in my eyes, and it feels like a dream to play her.
What did you perform in your audition and when did you find out that you had the role?
For my audition, I sang “Someone Like You” from Jekyll and Hyde, one of my favorite audition songs. How I found out I had the role is quite an interesting story, actually. I was up in New York City for a Broadway Student Summit, and Darnell had been calling me for the entire day. When I finally checked my phone after my classes were over, I was in a tiny Italian restaurant with my cousins and my family. I called Darnell back during my dinner and nearly fell out of my chair when he offered me the role. It was a good weekend.
What does the audience learn about Eponine when you sing “On My Own”?
In my ‘big number’, “On My Own,” it becomes clear for the audience that Eponine is truly accepting the situation she is in, albeit unfortunate and quite depressing. She also reveals the more vulnerable side of herself as her emotions fluctuate throughout the song. Unrequited love is a heartbreaking state to be in, and in “On My Own,” it is up to Eponine to come to terms with reality.
What have been some of the challenges preparing for your role and performing in the KAT space?
I live in Germantown, so the commute to Kensington isn’t the easiest, especially on school nights when we have late rehearsals. Also, the fact that the Armory has a smaller stage than I expected was an interesting adjustment. However, the space makes for a more intimate setting of Les Misérables, and I’ve really enjoyed the experience so far.
Preparing for my role hasn’t been a complete struggle, as I came to the production with a wealth of knowledge about Eponine, and over the course of rehearsals, I have grown into the complex character that she is.
Why do you think Les Misérables is still so popular almost 30 years after opening on Broadway?
I believe that this is true because it is such a powerful and memorable story set to incredible music. Not only that, but the lessons learned in the show are reflective of society today. Les Mis is a revolutionary (pun once again intended) musical that is meant to live on in the hearts of its fans and thespians, and should never be forgotten.
What character that you are not playing is your favorite and what song that you are not singing is your favorite, and why?
I would have to say my favorite character other than Eponine is Enjolras, the leader of the student revolutionaries. His passion and drive for justice, as well as his true belief in himself and his friends really draw me in and inspire me.
As for my favorite songs (I can’t just pick one!), that would have to be “Empty Chairs and Empty Tables” and “Stars.” I really love the emotion and grief that Marius reveals in “Empty Chairs…”, and the shift in Javert’s seemingly rigid character in “Stars” is honest and true to life.
What is the best advice Director Darnell Morris and Musical Director Stuart Weich has given you about shaping your performance?
Both Darnell and Stuart have given me so much guidance throughout this whole process, and I would say they have undeniably helped me grow into the actress I am today. As for the best advice, I must say my perspective on my performance really did change actually when I was called back for the role. As I sang “Little Fall of Rain,” the song in Eponine’s death scene, Stuart advised me to not stress about the correct notes of the song and to hone in on the raw emotion that showed through each lyric. Darnell has also provided me with very challenging and constructive acting training, helping me to focus on my motivation and internal/external reactions to single lines, lyrics, and movements, and then stringing them together to create a scene with emotional depth that goes farther than the simple words in the script.
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing Les Misérables at KAT?
I want the audience to be moved; to be touched by the hard work that our cast, crew, pit, and creative team have put into this amazing show. More than anything, though, I want people to walk away from our version of Les Misérables with a changed conscience and the memory of a sincerely unforgettable show.
Les Misérables plays through May 24, 2014 at Kensington Arts Theatre performed at Kensington Town Hall-3710 Mitchell Street in Kensington, MD. For tickets, call the box office at (206) 888-6642, or purchase them online. The remaining performances are sold out.
Meet The Director and Cast of Kensington Arts Theatre’s ‘Les Misérables’ Part 1: Director Darnell Morris.
Meet The Director and Cast of Kensington Arts Theatre’s ‘Les Misérables’ Part 2: Paul Tonden (Javert).
Meet The Director and Cast of Kensington Arts Theatre’s ‘Les Misérables’ Part 3: David Merrill (Jean Valjean).
Meet The Director and Cast of Kensington Arts Theatre’s ‘Les Misérables’ Part 4: Harrison Smith (Marius).
Meet The Director and Cast of Kensington Arts Theatre’s ‘Les Misérables’: Part 5: Ethan Miller (Gavroche).
Meet The Director and Cast of Kensington Arts Theatre’s ‘Les Misérables’: Part 7: Cole Edelstein (Gavroche) and Shira Minsk (Young Cosette).
Amanda Gunther’s review of ‘Les Misérables’ at Kensington Arts Theatre on DCMetroTheaterArts.