BROADWAY BABES

Famous ‘Les Misérables’ Alums: Nick Jonas, Lea Michele and More (Photos)

Does every rising star have to do a ‘Les Miz’ turn? So it seems. From Lea Michele to Ricky Martin, check out former Fantines and Gavroches.

Stan Honda/AFP/Getty; Michael Kovac/Getty for Tacori; Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

Stan Honda/AFP/Getty; Michael Kovac/Getty for Tacori; Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

Do you hear the celebrities sing? Moviegoers may be fawning over Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, and the A-list cast of Les Misérables as the film version of the hit musical rakes in box-office dollars and awards attention. But the movie’s cast members are not the first bold-faced names to belt out the production’s classic show tunes. From Lea Michele to Ricky Martin, Les Miz has seen a red carpet’s worth of stars to play the show’s song-happy revolutionaries over the years. Take a look at some of the show’s most well-known alumni.

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Lea Michele

Considering how flawlessly Lea Michele belted out Eponine’s aching showstopper “On My Own” in the pilot episode of Glee, it should come as no surprise that the Broadway babe has a history with Les Misérables. Michele made her Broadway debut in 1995 as a replacement for Young Cosette. Nine years later, she was offered the role of Eponine in the first Broadway revival of the musical, but turned down the part in order to star in Spring Awakening, which was scheduled to hit the Great White Way at the same time. Michele eventually got her “On My Own” stage moment, playing Eponine in the Les Misérables concert at the Hollywood Bowl in 2008.

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Nick Jonas

The middle Jonas bro is another Les Mis alum who earned his big break crooning about the 1832 French rebellion, and then revisited the musical in another role once he was a bona fide star. Jonas was a Broadway vet by the time he starred as precocious rebel Gavroche at age 11, having already performed in A Christmas Carol, Annie Get Your Gun, and Beauty and the Beast. A decade later—a Tiger Beat staple thanks to the success of the Jonas Brothers—he returned to his stage roots to play Marius in London’s 25th anniversary concert of Les Misérables. In a twisted bit of life imitating art, Eponine finally got her Marius as Jonas started dating Samantha Barks—who would go on to play Eponine in the film—while they co-starred in the production.

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Ricky Martin

He may be Puerto Rican, but in 1996 Ricky Martin was purely French, playing Marius in the Broadway production of Les Mis. Martin was already a Latin-music supernova at that point, and had tried his hand as a soap stud with a stint on General Hospital. But it would be more than 15 years before the “Livin’ La Vida Loca” singer would return to the Broadway stage, as Che in the recent revival of Evita.

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Matt Lucas

Sacha Baron Cohen isn’t the first British comedian to steal the show as swindling Thenardier in Les Mis. Little Britain actor (and Bridesmaids breakout) Matt Lucas played the part in London’s 25th anniversary concert, earning a standing ovation for his performance of “Master of the House.”

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Carly Rose Sonenclar

The jaw-dropping pipes that Carly Rose Sonenclar showed off on the most recent season of The X Factor, where the 13-year-old finished in second place, were honed on the New York stage. The pint-sized belter made her Broadway debut in 2006 as Young Cosette in the revival of Les Misérables, going on to originate roles in Little House on the Prairie: The Musical and Wonderland before singing in front of Simon Cowell, Britney Spears, and millions of TV viewers each week.

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Sutton Foster

Two-time Tony-winner Sutton Foster may just now be making a name for herself on TV as the star of ABC Family’s warmly received freshman dramedy Bunheads, but theater-goers have been obsessively following the song-and-dance wunderkind for years, from her astonishing debut in Thoroughly Modern Millie to dazzling turns in Little Women, Young Frankenstein, The Drowsy Chaperone, and Anything Goes. In 2000, Foster understudied the role of Eponine in the Broadway production of Les Mis, belting her own memorable rendition of “On My Own.”

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Melora Hardin

Suffering the antics of Michael Scott as the bumbling Dunder-Mifflin boss’s girlfriend on The Office was a cakewalk compared to the litany of soul-crushing bummers Melora Hardin channeled as doomed Fantine in the 2008 Hollywood Bowl production of Les Misérables.

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Debbie Gibson

From “Shake Your Love” to “On My Own”—the two songs could not be more different in tone, but they served to launch different parts of ‘80s-teen-queen-turned-Broadway-diva Debbie Gibson’s career. Gibson burst on the scene with “Shake Your Love” in 1987, before turning to Broadway as her recording career waned with a turn as Eponine in Les Misérables. She followed up the stint with a slew of iconic musical theater roles: Sandy in Grease, Belle in Beauty and the Beast, Sally Bowles in Cabaret, and Louise in Gypsy.

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Rider Strong

For lovers of ’90s nostalgia, it’s all too perfect. Rider Strong, who played the coolest kid of them all—Shawn Hunter in the enduringly popular T.G.I.F. sitcom Boy Meets World—began his career at age 9 by playing young Gavroche in a San Francisco production of Les Misérables, the musical that theater buffs who grew up in the ’90s spent their younger years—and beyond—obsessing over.

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David Burtka

Neil Patrick Harris’s better half has a stellar acting résumé of his own. In addition to appearing in several episodes of How I Met Your Mother—where he met Harris—Burtka starred in the original London production of Les Misérables as Enjolras, the stalwart revolutionary.

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Eden Riegel

Daytime Emmy-winner Eden Riegel had prime training for all the heartbreak and tragedy she’s had to play during her five-year stint on All My Children: the bleak drama of Les Misérables. Riegel was 7-years-old when she made her Broadway debut as Young Cosette.

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Patti LuPone

Of course the Grand Dame of musical theater starred in Les Misérables at one point in her career. Patti LuPone played Fantine, the role Anne Hathaway plays in the film, in the original London production of Les Mis, winning the Olivier Award for her performance. Could the role score an Oscar for Hathaway next?