By Ashley MackinIn the Broadway version of “Les Misérables,” opening June 7 at the Lyceum Theatre in Horton Plaza, two La Jollans play Cosette — All Hallows Academy third-grader Emma Ragen is young Cosette, and La Jolla High School senior Truly Bailey, is the older Cosette.
Bailey has won prominent roles in other local productions, such as the San Diego Youth Theater’s “Hairspray” in 2011, and “Grease” in 2012. The latter earned her a nomination for Outstanding Achievement as a Leading Actress in a High School Musical from The Old Globe Theatre. She also was featured in the PBS Documentary series “Broadway or Bust.”
“I always play belting parts, the big numbered parts,” she said, which is why she was so surprised to get the part of Cosette, when she auditioned for “Les Mis.”
“I’m never a soprano and this part is a soprano part ... but I can sing it.”
Even in rehearsals, Bailey said she sees how the role will strengthen her already strong skills. “It’s built up more range in me and I’ve been able to develop a lot more vocal techniques in learning how to play this part,” she said.
Not just playing, but perfecting the part is important to Bailey because this is the first amateur production of the full Broadway version of the show in San Diego.
“Being in the first company in town to perform the full score of ‘Les Misérables,’ in itself is kind of a challenge because I feel we have to do it right. ... I feel there is pressure to the show living up to Broadway standards.”
Co-director Shaun Evans previously told La Jolla Light that “Up until now, it’s been the case that if you were performing this
version of ‘Les Mis,’ that meant you were either in the National Tour or on Broadway or one of the resident companies with the Broadway rights, like Tokyo or London.”
However, the longtime actress – who was in seven local productions last year – is up to the task. A performer since age 5, Bailey started with tap and ballet lessons, took a brief break to play sports, but returned to dancing at age 11. Singing was quickly added on, and after seeing the musical “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” she knew she wanted to perform.
In addition to the desire to be an actor, Bailey said she wants
to be a good role model. Growing up, she said, she idolized the older teens playing lead roles. Now that she is that teen, she strives to set a good example for the younger actors.
“I have always tried to be positive, perform my part to the best of my ability, be kind to everyone, be a problem-solver ... make sure you are
always there to do your job,” she said. “And, to always be smiling and positive throughout the experience because a lot of stress can be going on. But as long as you stay positive throughout it all, that helps the cast as a whole.”
That good attitude will carry Bailey to California State Fullerton next year, where she will confidently enter the Musical Arts program, which only graduates 10 students.
“Some people may be threatened by a cut program, but I embrace it. If I’m not meant to be doing this, then I want to know now, but at the same time, I’m not scared because I’m confident in what I’m doing and I’m a hard worker. If I continue to develop at the pace that I have been, I shouldn’t have any problems.”
If you go■ What: California Youth Conservatory Theatre’s ‘Les Misérables,’ co-directed by Broadway’s Thomas O’Leary
■ When: Matinees, evenings June 6-22
■ Where: Lyceum Theatre, 79 Horton Plaza, downtown San Diego
■ Box Office: (619) 544-1000