FEATURE: Andrew Quiett is WSU’s Jean Valjean

543163_10151751010585243_326073087_nWright State University will present LES MISERABLES in the Festival Playhouse opening this weekend.  We sat down with their “Jean Valjean,” Andrew Quiett.

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Quiett with Broadway’s Stephen Schwartz

How did you get started in musical theater and acting?

I was actually never into musical theater all that much growing up. I had an idea of some shows but no real knowledge about it. I didn’t even really think of acting as a career option in high school until late my Junior year. What really started it was my family and friends urging me to go “do a show” because of my constant impersonations of movie line readings and candid singing. Next thing I know I’m doing our high school production of “Fiddler on the Roof” in the chorus as a Papa and then one of the next roles I had was Enjolras in “Les Miserables” (kids cut) with a community kids theatre.

Well, you’ve done quite well for yourself so far.  Not only have you been featured in great main stage plays like THE MIRACLE WORKER, DEATH OF A SALESMAN, and THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, but we’ve also seen you in GRAND HOTEL OKLAHOMA!, and PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.  I personally loved seeing you in the student produced and directed GOOD WILL HUNTING. What are some of your favorite roles?

That’s tough. I’ve come to love straight acting roles a LOT, and there are several things I’d like to revisit now that I’ve been through training that I had done in high school. I can’t possibly list them in any sort of order, but the most fun have been, “Adult Men” in SPRING AWAKENING, “Piangi” in PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, and “Teddy Bruester” in ARSENIC AND OLD LACE, and “Jud Fry” in OKLAHOMA!.

Andrew Quiett as "Adult Men" with the cast of SPRING AWAKENING
Andrew Quiett as “Adult Men” with the cast of SPRING AWAKENING

You mention your training. Can you tell us more about the training you’ve received a Wright State and how it has prepared you for the vocally intense and emotionally charged role of Jean Valjean?

Oh it’s been invaluable. Jamie Cordes and Deb Thomas have been absolutely invaluable assets to my learning, practice, and establishing a discipline since I came to the program very raw. Something as elementary as warming up, I have to admit, I just disregarded in my early years. You can be sure that won’t be the case anymore, especially with this role. This program is all I’ve known for training thus far, but from the students I’ve seen in my class and others below, it exceeds in tearing you down and building you up to make you emotionally accessible enough to do anything and I feel like no exception. The faculty around me have brought me to this point and I feel very prepared.

Andrew with Zack Steele in GOOD WILL HUNTING
Andrew with Zack Steele in GOOD WILL HUNTING

Well, you obviously have natural talent in addition to the quality education Wright State provides. I can’t wait to see it.  So, what should we expect to see in LES MISERABLES? 

The cast is great, every principle is more than up to the task and watching our chorus staging rehearsals has been very fun. They’re all willing to let go and create something, which is always refreshing on any project. I work most directly with Law Dunford (playing “Javert”) most of the time and exploring the different kinds and flavors of tensions between these two characters is an exquisite experience alongside an actor like Law.

So, what’s next for you?

No news as of this moment but I’m just going to start being able to hit auditions at the end of this production as well as our New York Showcase. At the risk of being cliche, the beginning of the rest of our lives is just weeks away. It’ll be exciting to see what directions we’re pulled beyond the halls of Wright State’s Creative Arts Center.

Well, I’m convinced that you have a bright future ahead of you.  Thanks, Andrew, and break a leg!

Andrew Quiett is a senior at Wright State University and a 2013 Stephen Schwartz Scholarship Award winner.  Catch him and his talented schoolmates in LES MISERABLES opening March 20th (with a sold out student preview tonight!) and running through April 6th.  Tickets – if there are any  – are available here.

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