The Walnut's all-new production of the Victor Hugo-inspired musical by Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schönberg and Herbert Kretzmer will start May 13, open May 21, and has just been extended by popular demand to Aug. 3.
The new production's creative team includes Barrymore Award-winning director Mark Clements (Walnut's Of Mice and Men), music and vocal director Douglass G. Lutz, set designer Todd Ivins and costume designer Colleen Grady. Additional members of the creative team will be announced.
Born in Philadelphia, Panaro served as a church organist at Saint Helena's Roman Catholic Church during high school and studied music at Temple University (BA in voice, class of '85). One of his first professional roles was at The Walnut Street Theatre for the 1986 production of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler's A Little Night Music.
In 1988 Panaro originated the role of Marius in the first national touring production of Les Misérables, moving up to the Broadway company several months later. He then played Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera, also on Broadway. Subsequent roles include Gaylord Ravenal in Show Boat (Broadway, Toronto, and London) and Buddy Foster in the original production of Side Show.
Panaro returned to Broadway to play the Phantom in 2003, remaining with the show until October 2005. He created the role of the vampire Lestat in the Elton John musical of the same name. Walnut Street is one of a handful of regional theatres given permission (by producer Cameron Mackintosh) to stage the epic musical about love, forgiveness and justice in 19th-century France.
According to WST, "The musical that swept the world is a truly spectacular finale to the Walnut's 199th season. Based on Victor Hugo's classic novel, Les Misérables is a sweeping, heartfelt and epic saga. The fugitive, Jean Valjean, is pitted against the tenacious Inspector Javert in a lifelong struggle to evade capture. What follows is a deeply personal tale set against a historical backdrop of an unparalleled scale."
Additional casting will be announced shortly.
For more information visit walnutstreettheatre.org or lesmisphilly.com.