Les Miserables – Meet Jean Valjean


PLAYHOUSE: Everybody knows that Jean Valjean and Javert are mortal enemies – have you and Jeffrey [Madison] done any special preparation to get into that mindset?


Pictured: Adam Sippola as “Jean Valjean” left, Jeffrey Madison as “Javert” right at “Les Misérables” rehearsal at UMD.

ADAM SIPPOLA: For the last couple of months, Jeff and I have been randomly showing up in each other’s daily lives, singing threateningly in each other’s general direction, and then darting off.

Really though, it’s been thoroughly enjoyable to get to know one another off stage, and to enjoy each other’s work onstage. There’s a camaraderie and artistic trust that enables for good, honest work. Now watch, in reality, Jeff probably has a dart board with my face on it in his dressing room.

PH: The role of Jean Valjean is a coveted role in musical theatre history – what is it like to play him?

Adam: This role is one of only a few on the bucket list, so to have the opportunity to bring it to life on stage at the DECC, with this phenomenal cast, members of the DSSO, amazing crew, designers, and director, is pretty awesome, to say the least.

PH: What research did you do to prepare for Valjean?

Adam: I went back and re-read section of the book, watched some clips from old film adaptations, but as with other shows, I mostly look to the text, myself, my fellow actors, and my director.


Adam Sippola as “Jean Valjean” at “Les Misérables” rehearsal at UMD.

PH: What was your biggest challenge in playing this role?

Adam: The greatest challenge has been to strip away preconceptions of Valjean, and to just allow myself to find the character in my voice and body, and in my life, regardless of how it’s been done before, or what expectations others may have.

PH: Tell us a little bit about what this production/role/opportunity means to you.

Adam: It’s an absolute honor, all of it. It’s a joy to play on stage every day and night with this cast and crew – there’s great love there. It’s both humbling and empowering to perform with such consistently high caliber musicians and actors, and I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Ms. Danner, a beautiful person and wonderful director, continuing in my personal growth as a performer. Perhaps most importantly, I am honored to be a part of telling this story of love, compassion, mercy, and forgiveness – to meet my fellow actors in this world of Les Miserables, and to go with them beyond the barricade.


Adam Sippola as “Jean Valjean” left, Jennifer Graupmann Campbell as “Cosette” right at “Les Misérables” rehearsal at UMD.

PH: Any special thanks or shout outs?

Adam: My childhood cello teacher, Betsy Husby, taught me so much, not only about how to play the cello, but by example, how to carry myself as a musician and performer. Week after week, year after year, sitting in lessons with her, exploring music, I can see in retrospect that I was also finding my voice, and cultivating a passionate attitude for music performance, which became the foundation for how I sing and perform today. I am so thankful! And the serendipitous part is that Betsy is playing cello in the orchestra for Les Miserables, so after many, many years, we’re making music together again.

I’d also like to thank my mom, Carlene, for always being my biggest fan and supporter, along with my dad, John, for always singing with me, and for teaching me the art of listening. And thank you Nicole, Vali, and Anja, for your love and support.

Don’t forget to get your tickets, we open tonight! You can purchase in person at the DECC Ticket Office or online by clicking the button below. We’re expecting it to be busy at the door, so advance sales are always recommended. See you at the show!



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