For two of the cast members of the touring company of Les Miserables, their paths to the stage took different routes. Ben Cherington’s ran through the bima at his Northern Virginia synagogue. Arianne DiCerbo’s started from a booster seat in a Broadway theater, when at 4 years old, her parents took her to see Les Miserables.
The two will be part of the cast of the venerable musical that takes the stage at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis from Dec. 6-18. The tour began in October and runs through mid-June with anywhere from one to three weeks in a city.
“This show is huge,” DiCerbo said. “It’s such an inspiring story. And it’s so relevant. It’s shocking how relevant it always is.”
For both, it’s their first national tour as actors.
“It is everything I thought it would be,” said Cherington, who is a swing performer in the show; that means he doesn’t necessarily perform every night but is the cover for all 11 male ensemble performers. “When I was graduating school (in 2020), one of my biggest dreams is to be on a tour.”
DiCerbo had spent several years touring with shows, but spent many years working on shows that toured.
“I got my Equity card through Hello Dolly doing stage management, and then all of a sudden, I could get an appointment and go to all these Equity auditions,” DiCerbo said. “And that’s when I started finally getting in the room.”
DiCerbo auditioned for Madame Thénardier and is one of two understudies for that role, as well as being a part of the ensemble.
Cherington said that his synagogue, Temple B’nai Shalom in Fairfax Station, Va., was the first place he was comfortable with performing.
“If you wanted a place to get up and perform, there was going to be an opportunity for that,” he said. “The religious school I went to every week [we’d] get up and act things out. That’s definitely the first place that I found myself getting up in front of anybody else because I was really shy. Rabbi Amy Perlin really played a huge part in bringing me out of my shell.”
DiCerbo’s journey was different – she grew up Lutheran in Connecticut. But she took an intro to Judaism course from Rabbi Al Axelrad when in college and it piqued her interest. Then she met her now husband and started going to holidays with his family at their synagogue in the Bronx.
“The second I went to my first service, and I heard the melodies and the singing – obviously, as a singer I was like, ‘I’m in it. I’m totally in it. Let’s learn all the Hebrew,’” she said.
She has really become enamored with Shabbat.
“Shabbat dinners: what a concept,” she said. “It’s okay, whatever you do all week, but if you can just settle the heck down on Friday night. That’s all you got to do. And it can really make a difference everywhere in your life like just to have that one night.”
Of course given their professions and touring schedules, time off for Shabbat or the holidays can be a little hard to come by.
“For Rosh Hashana, they put out some apples and honey before the show one evening,” she said. “But it’s been rough to have things to touch base with.”
Said Cherington: “The current schedule isn’t ideal, but I’ve tried to do some kind of Havdallah service every once in a while if I can squeeze it in there. It’s something that I’ve tried to prioritize, although the two schedules of my life don’t exactly completely line up.”
A hearty Mazol Tov to my wonderful nephew Benjamin Cherington for bringing a Yiddisha Ert (Jewish heart) and Jewish “flavor” to the wonderful Les Mis. I will try to come to see
you in San Francisco. Break a Leg. Love and Hugs, Aunt Barbara