Brendan Hoffman has a lot on his plate right now, but passing up the opportunity to play Marius in “Les Miserables” at the Cohoes Music Hall with a cast made up largely of professionals from New York City just wasn’t going to happen.
“ ‘Les Mis’ is a dream show for me, and it’s only the fact that it was ‘Les Mis’ that would have got me to do something like this right now,” said Hoffman, a music teacher and choir director at Albany High School.
“I have two wonderful boys, 41⁄2 and 11 months, and I really enjoy being with them. It was tough for me to envision going to work on any kind of show, but ‘Les Mis’ is really special to me.”
The C-R Productions staging of “Les Mis” begins tonight and continues through Oct. 13. Austin Riley Green is playing Jean Valjean, Brittany Simmons is Fantine and Cara O’Brien is Eponine. C-R Productions artistic director Jim Charles is directing the show and also performing as Javert.
‘Les Mis,’ by C-R Productions
WHERE: Cohoes Music Hall, 58 Remsen St., Cohoes
WHEN: Opens tonight at 8 p.m. and runs through Oct. 13; performance times are 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. Matinees will also be held on Oct. 5 and 12
HOW MUCH: $35-$25
MORE INFO: 237-5858, ext. 1 or www.cohoesmusichall.com
‘The Glass Menagerie,’ by Our Own Productions
WHERE: Emmanuel Friedens Church, 218 Nott Terrace, Schenectady
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, through Oct. 6
HOW MUCH: $15-$13
MORE INFO: www.ourownproductions.com
‘Les Mis,’ by the Theatre Institute at Sage
WHERE: Schacht Fine Arts Center, 5 Division St., Troy
WHEN: Opens Saturday and runs through Oct. 6, performance times are 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $15-$12
MORE INFO: 244-2248 or tickets.Sage.edu
‘Venus in Fur’
WHERE: Capital Repertory Theatre, 111, North Pearl, Albany
WHEN: Previews Friday through Sunday, opens Tuesday and runs through Oct. 20, performance times vary
HOW MUCH: $60-$20
MORE INFO: 445-7469 or www.capitalrep.org
Hoffman, a Long Island native, says he is first and foremost a vocalist. He has performed as a soloist with a number of groups, including Albany Pro Musica and the Burnt Hills Oratorio Society, and while his theater resume is short it is impressive.
At Cohoes, he played Anthony Hope in “Sweeney Todd” in 2009, and Chris in “Miss Saigon” in 2007. Also in 2007, he played Teen Angel in the Park Playhouse production of “Grease,” and in 2005 was Lt. Joe Cable in the Playhouse production of “South Pacific.”
“I am absolutely a musician first and an actor second,” he said. “But there’s always been an actor inside of me, and I really enjoy the opportunity of escaping reality or diving into a fantasy world and leave everything else behind. That has always been an attraction to me, and something that really intrigues me.”
Still, if not for the support of his wife, Kim Reynolds, also a music teacher at Albany, and the fact that it’s “Les Mis,” Hoffman would have opted to spend more time with his two boys, C.J. and Nate.
“This was probably the first show that I saw that really grabbed me,” Hoffman said of “Les Mis.” “I can clearly remember sitting there on Broadway about 16 years ago watching this show and just being totally enthralled by it. It really sucked me into the whole world of theater and music. It’s a show that doesn’t get done very often so when this opportunity came up I was very excited by it.”
Based on Victor Hugo’s novel about early 19th century France, “Les Mis” was turned into a musical by the French song writing team of Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boubil, and then produced as an English-speaking stage production in 1985 by producer Cameron Mackintosh. In 1987, the Broadway production was nominated for 12 Tonys and won eight, and the show has since spawned numerous national tours and a Hollywood movie version in 2012.
“It’s without a doubt one of the most demanding shows for everyone involved vocally,” said Hoffman. “But I’m pretty comfortable with what I’m doing, and I’m very excited about the work everyone else is doing. I’m extremely grateful to be working in a situation like this where an extremely talented cast comes together and gets really invested in putting together something beautiful. I think it’s going to be an incredible show.”
More ‘Les Mis’
The Cohoes’ production isn’t the only staging of “Les Mis” this weekend in the Capital Region. In Troy on the campus of Russell Sage, the Theatre Institute at Sage is mounting its own version with Broadway veterans Craig Schulman as Jean Valjean and Gary Lynch as Javert joining the student cast.
Schulman played Valjean on Broadway, and Lynch, who twice starred as John Adams in the New York State Theatre Institute production of “1776,” was a replacement and understudy for both Javert and the Innkeeper.
Elsewhere this weekend, Our Own Productions is staging Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie” at the Emmanuel Friedens Church in Schenectady, and Capital Repertory Theatre in Albany is opening its run of “Venus in Fur” with preview performances before opening next Tuesday.
Patrick White is directing OOP’s production of Williams’ classic tale of a Southern family dealing with numerous emotional issues. Arguably Williams’ greatest success, “The Glass Menagerie” was a memory play and somewhat autobiographical. Charlie Owens plays Tom, Katherine Ambrosio is Amanda, Katie Poladian is Laura and Kai Pisila is A Gentleman Caller.
At Capital Rep, things will be getting a bit provocative with a production of David Ives’ Broadway hit, “Venus in Fur.” Timothy Deenihan, a Capital Rep veteran, plays Novachek and Jenny Strassberg is Vanda. Strassberg will be making her Albany-area debut, although some theater patrons may recognize her from productions at Oldcastle Theatre in Bennington and the Dorset Theatre Festival.