For the past two days, Will Swenson’s phone has been ringing off the hook: “It’s felt like my birthday,” he tells Broadway.com. “I got a message from someone from junior high, just saying ‘Hey man, I haven’t seen you since science class in seventh grade, but congrats, I saw the news.’” The news, of course, is that Swenson will play unyielding and righteous police inspector Javert in the forthcoming production of Les Miserables on Broadway—and no one could be more thrilled than Swenson himself. Well, except maybe his dad.
“My family was so obsessed with Les Miz when it came out in the ‘80s,” Swenson says, recounting a vacation when they drove all the way from Salt Lake City, UT, to Los Angeles to see the national tour. “We bought the [cast recording] and I don’t think my dad has stopped listening to it for 25 years, it’s his favorite show of all time.” Swenson’s father, whose “mind was blown” when he heard the recent news, was even excited when he found out several years ago his son was friends with a Javert. “He blew a gasket when he found out I knew Norm [Lewis],” the actor says, laughing. “Almost every time he calls, he asks how Norm is doing. And I’m like, ‘Well, haven’t seen Norm since the last time we spoke, but I think he’s good!’”
While Swenson prepares to take on Javert this spring, he’s got one heck of a scene partner to rehearse with—his wife, five-time Tony winner Audra McDonald. Can’t you just imagine the two at home, practicing "The Confrontation" together? “Oh yeah, it happens nightly,” Swenson jokes. “No, we’re more of a Roberta Flack family, but I think it happened once when I was auditioning for the part. We were goofing around and sung it in front of the kids just to annoy them—they think we’re so obnoxious when we sing loudly.”
Although Swenson and McDonald’s wee posse of three haven’t exactly jumped on the Les Miz bandwagon yet, the newly imagined production will give a whole new generation of kids the opportunity to fall in love with Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg’s powerful musical. “Kids growing up right now are obsessed with Wicked,” Swenson says. “But Les Miz was totally my Wicked growing up. To be on stage in that show? It’s just completely amazing to me.”
Les Miserables opens March 23, 2014 at the Imperial Theatre, starring Swenson, Ramin Karimloo, Caissie Levy and Nikki M. James!