The Actorsingers

Presenting Community Theatre since 1955

Plays Javert in Les Misérables

Mark Schwartzberg from Bedford New Hampshire plays Javert  and is very familiar with the production as all three of his sons have appeared in “ Les Misérables” productions in recent years and he is now following in their footsteps.  His son Nathan played Jean Valjean in a Palace youth production and his son Daniel played Valjean at school and Javert at Peacock Players.  His son Jakov played Babet. a member of Thenardier's gang and also a student in the Peacock Players production.

Schwartzberg, originally from Rochester, NY, did theater in high school and college, though he ended up going into medicine (pediatrics).  His earliest theater memory is of playing Charlie Brown in "You're a Good Man..." when he was 13.

 Schwartzberg has been in several Actorsingers productions including "Man of La Mancha", "Aida" and "Curtains.”  He has also acted at the Palace, with Stage One, with Stagecoach and with MADCO.

Schwartzberg particularly wanted to play Javert because he finds his character to be so complex and conflicted.  He thinks that Javert really wants to do what is right and to put some order into a world that has been in upheaval and chaos since the revolution in 1789.  He likely would have directly experienced the revolution and its aftermath as a child (according to the book by Victor Hugo,  Valjean was born in 1769 and Javert in about 1780).  He would have been 13 or 14 during the “Reign of Terror.”  Add to this the fact that Javert was born in prison.

In reaction to all this, he has applied to himself and to the world a standard of absolute adherence to the rule of law. In fact, having seen M Madeleine (Valjean), the mayor, lift a heavily loaded cart to save a stranger’s life, he goes to his superiors and denounces the mayor as Valjean.  On learning that "Valjean" has been caught, he confesses his actions to the mayor (Valjean) as deserving of punishment though no harm has actually come to the mayor through those actions.  Ultimately, Javert cannot reconcile his absolutist view of good and evil with the kindness and charity he receives from the "fallen" Valjean.  Trying to portray that without making the characterization cliché-ed or cartoonish is the great challenge of the role.

How did Schwartzberg feel about being cast?  Frankly, he was shocked when he got the call asking him to try to arrange for a callback.  When he left the initial audition he thought "Oh well, it was fun to try and I think I sang pretty well".  When he did his callback all out of breath, he thought "well I had my chance but..."  So, when he was cast, he was really surprised and then a bit anxious - can I pull this off?  It is, as you know, a bit of a family tradition and, though it may seem somewhat backwards in terms of the generations.”

What does Schwartzberg get from theater?  “Theater frees me to explore ideas and emotions which are not a part of my everyday life.  And, as most of what I have done recently is musical theater, I get to sing!”

Posted by Evelynn Decker Thursday, November 7, 2013 7:52:00 PM Categories: In the Spotlight Main Stage