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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Revolutionary year

Touring with Les Miz takes faith for young actor's family

Eleven-year-old Christopher Carlson dies a hero's death several times a week. One of the youngest cast members of the national touring company of Les Misérables, Chris — as Gavroche — spends a considerable amount of the lengthy play scrambling up and down the set's massive barricades, at one point proclaiming cockily, "It's me who runs this town." But soon after intermission, while trying to retrieve ammunition for his rebel friends, he is shot and dies dramatically across the back of a fallen soldier.

Therein lies the problem, according to Chris. "Sometimes I die in a bad position or with the bill on my cap pressing into my face," he grimaces, meaning that the five minutes or so he lies immobile as the vast stage rotates can seem, well, an eternity to the young actor.

But his parents don't focus on what Chris calls the "technical aspects" of his death. "I've seen him die twice," confesses his dad Mike, "and I'm never prepared for it." Bethany, his mom, says this is an area in which the family made some allowances for Chris' character. "You don't want your kid to be shot every night," she admits.

But violence isn't really the issue. "The play is such a story of faith and redemption, law and gospel," Bethany says. Thanks to a strong family commitment to faith, Chris quickly picked up on the Christian elements in the staged version of Victor Hugo's 1862 novel about the Paris revolution in the 1840s.


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December issue

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