Les Miserables’ part is dream role for Paige Smallwood
Paige Smallwood’s childhood memories are filled with the soundtrack of musicals which left a lasting impression on the actress.
A recent graduate of London’s Royal Academy of Music, where she earned an MA in Musical Theatre Performance, Smallwood currently stars as Éponine in Cameron Mackintosh’s acclaimed production of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg’s Tony Award-winning “Les Misérables.”
Playing Éponine has been a dream come true for Smallwood. “I grew up listening to musicals and Les Miz was one that was constantly playing in our house,” said the actress by phone earlier this month to the Banner. “And now to actually be on stage, especially as a woman of color, and the sharing of this story has meant so much to me my entire life, and to share it with boys and girls who felt like I did—is like pure magic.”
Now in its 33rd year, “Les Misérables” has been seen by more than 130 million people in 44 countries and in 22 languages across the globe. For Smallwood, whose love of performing began at a young age, the musical’s appeal and longevity, she believes, is due “to its different elements in the story that resonate with people of all ages and through all walks of life.”
Based on the 1862 novel of the same name by Victor Hugo, the celebrated musical tells the timeless tale of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption, set against the backdrop of 19th-century France.
For Smallwood, who has a solo performance singing “On My Own,” it’s also been an opportune time for reflection. “The first time that I heard “On My Own” and I really understood where she was coming from, I was going through quite emotional times in my pre-teen/teenager life as women do,” recalled the New York native. The song represented all the emotions that Smallwood was experiencing at that time, that she wasn’t quite able to express through words. It was then that she realized that she wanted to be able “to tell stories like that and make people feel the way that I felt.”
It’s also not lost on Smallwood, the significance of Éponine being portrayed by a woman of color. In numerous conversations she’s had with young women of color about the role, the impact of what her work hits home when the young women’s parents tell her, “it was so amazing watching her watch you because, she, for the first time saw somebody up on stage who looked like her,” stated the actress. “And those moments I take with me.”
If You Go
Where: Citizens Bank Opera House
When: April 16 – 28, 2019
Tickets & info: www.BroadwayInBoston.com