Composer Alain Boublil on the Les Mis movie: “Obviously, we pushed a lot for the idea of Colm Wilkinson being cast as the Bishop of Digne. We always thought that he had exactly the voice to sing that part of the score, and also that it would be wonderful to have the original Valjean. Even the marketing guy did.”
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Colm on ‘corpsing’ (pranking) around during the original London run of Les Mis: “Alun Armstrong is one of the best actors I’ve ever worked with. But he loved trying to corpse people, and he could certainly get me. It was hard to get him back; I managed once by telling him the punchline of a really rude story just as he went on—that got him—and once by having 2-4-6-0-1 on the back of my underpants and mooning him from the wings.”
Colm explaining why he waited 23 years to perform “Gethsemane” from JCS at his 2000 PBS concert
Colm Wilkinson talking about his musical theatre start in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar
Terrence Mann (Javert in the original Broadway cast of Les Misérables) recalling the funniest stage moment he’s experienced to date:
One night—we’re in New York about six months into the run—me and Leo Burmester, who played Thénardier […] the three of us walked around and stood by Colm’s dressing room. We were talking about Irish whiskey. Colm doesn’t drink, but he’s an Irishman so he knows all about Irish whiskey. So he started telling us about all the three different single malts, what they’re like and how they’re made. And he started taking off his clothes to make that costume change.
But it was the wrong time […] He was supposed to just be standing there for about another minute and then go out and play the scene with Fantine. Well, Leo and I were standing there watching him and both of us knew at the same time what had happened. By that time—six months into the run—you’re looking for anything to give yourself a giggle. So we just kind of let him continue taking off his clothes until he was down to his underwear and white shirt.
By that time Fantine had crawled out of the bed and crawled all the way down to the conductor and was like speaking in tongues. [Colm] suddenly realized he was supposed to be out there and he started screaming at us and trying to pull his pants up. So, anybody sitting in the audience that night saw Valjean come running out on stage like he’d either been to the local house of ill repute or he’d gone to the bathroom and was buttoning up his pants. It was hysterical!
Growing up, Colm Wilkinson was the musical inspiration of Josh Young, the rising star currently playing Judas in Broadway’s Jesus Christ Superstar revival. Needless to say, when Colm came to see one of Josh’s shows in Stratford, Josh was beyond ecstatic and later posted this photo onto his Facebook page with the comment, “Me and my idol Colm”.
(Trivia note: Colm played Judas in the second casting of JCS’s original West End production, as well as in the Dublin production.)
Colm on carrying ‘Marius’ in Les Mis and his bromance with Michael Ball: “I blame him for all the slipped discs I have in my back! He used to invite me out for PAN-FRIED pizzas after the gig, and I’d say, ”Ya git, you should be LOSING weight, what are you inviting me out for?!’ (laughs) It used to drive me mad, and then he would say, ‘Well, I carry you, darling, for the rest of this show—it’s only right you should carry me for that [barricade] scene.’”
STORY SUBMITTED BY MUSICNEVERDIES
I was doing a community theatre production of Les Misérables. Nothing big. Just a student edition at a local theatre. Colm was doing a show about two weeks after we closed. He happened to be in town scoping out the venue about a week and a half before we opened. He somehow heard there was a production of Les Mis preparing, called the director to find out when rehearsal was, then showed up and had a heart-to-heart with the cast. He sang the Forbidden Broadway song, “God It’s High” (a parody of “Bring Him Home”) then joined in and we all sang “One Day More”.
He is such a BAMF. It was the best day ever.
JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR | 1972 | JUDAS ISCARIOT
Colm on getting the part: “My mother was horrified when I accepted the role. She was a devout Catholic and when I told her I was going to play Judas she said, ‘Colm, do you know what that man did to my Lord?’ She didn’t speak to me for six months.”