Shew, who made his Broadway debut in the original production of Les Misérables and in 1988 became the youngest actor to play Valjean on Broadway, continues to return to the demanding role throughout a career that has included Broadway runs in the Tony-winning 1992 revival of Guys and Dolls, Sunset Boulevard, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Wonderful Town and, most recently, Evita.
He played Valjean in the national tour of Les Misérables in 1991, starred in the 10th anniversary Australian staging of the hit musical in 1997 and later returned to lead the Broadway production in 1999. He's clocked over 1,600 performances in the role to date.
Shew now takes center stage in the Omaha Community Playhouse production as an Equity guest artist, appearing alongside a dedicated troupe of local performers in the staging that began Sept. 20 and will continue through Oct. 27.
"It's a gift that keeps on giving," Shew said. "This show is a constant reminder as to why I've spent a lifetime as a performer. To portray bigger-than-life characters, especially Jean Valjean, and telling a story that the author has so eloquently and beautifully penned, is an opportunity of a lifetime."
The cast of Omaha Community Playhouse's Les Misérables also features Joseph Dignoti as Javert, Julie Crowell as Fantine, Jennifer Tritz as Cosette, Joseph T. O'Connor II as Marius, Abigael Stewart as Eponine, Cork Ramer as Thenardier, Megan McGuire as Mme. Thenardier, Tyler Buglewicz as Enjorlas, Kyle Avery as Lesgles/Fauchlevant, Jimmy Friedlander as Courfeyrac/Constable 2, Kyle Wright as Jean Prouvaire, J.R. Gould as Feuilly, John Jones as Joly, Andrew Liakos as Grantiare/Innkeeper, Thomas Gjere as Combeferre/Champmatieu, Marh Thornburg as Bishop/Babet, Mike Palmrreuter as Factory Foreman/Brujon, Ryan Pivonka as Bamatbois/Montparnasse, Peter Barrett as Claquesous/Majordomo, Noah Jeffrey as Gavroche, Grace Titus as Little Cosette and Jamie Gould as Young Eponine.
Also featured are Jodi Vaccaro, Ariel Talacko, Lindsey Tierney, Beth Hamilton, Julie Enersen, Debbie Cline, Jennifer Gilg, Brook Fencl, Zoey newman and Danny Denenberg.
Susan Baer Collins directs the production that has music direction by Jim Boggess and choreography by Roxanne Nielsen. Carl Beck is the assistant director.