November 23 - December 8
The Harbour Theatre, Shellharbour
It was the story and the show that changed Josif Jovanovski's life as a young man.
Now, he hopes others will enjoy a similarly moving experience from Shellharbour's own production of internationally acclaimed musical, Les Miserables.
Jovanovski says Les Mis holds a special place in his heart, with the show giving him the enthusiasm and confidence to pursue a career in the performing arts industry.
Now, after 30 local productions and time with the Sydney Theatre Company, Jovanovski is artistic director of the Roo Theatre Company, and has returned to the place it all started for him.
Playing the starring role of Jean Valjean, as well as taking on the duties of assistant director and co-producer for the production, he says is a dream come true.
"Juggling the multiple roles has been challenging, but I've always been up for challenges ... it isn't unusual in community theatre."
Jovanovski says working with the production team for the show, including Gordon Streek, a founder of the theatre company, has made it easier.
A cast of more than 40 including local, international and award-winning talent and ranging in age from eight to more than 50 will feature in the production, including Ron Seymour as Inspector Javert, Antony Rule as Marius and Jennifer Gray as Fantine.
The actors and team behind the scenes have spent the last 11 weeks moulding the classic Boublil and Schonberg show into what Jovanovski says will be an epic theatrical performance.
"At present, I am spending six days a week at the theatre for rehearsals and work, but I love it.
"It's a huge task and there's high expectations [but] over the past 25 years the Roo has grown and the talent pool that comes through the place is so diverse.
"Les Mis, both vocally and physically, is proving to be the most grand [of the Roo Theatre's productions] ... it's shaping up to be one of the most memorable performances to hit the Illawarra stages in a long time.
"Everybody has heard of Les Miserables," Jovanovski says.
"It's epic, grand and uplifting ... it packs an emotional wallop.
"I just hope that at least one audience member can be touched the same way I was ... because the emotions that the music and story take people on is amazing."