Star of the Week: Chris McCarrell’s performance as Marius in Les Misérables fills audiences with a heart full of love

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by Sarah Katz

As the romantic young revolutionist Marius Pontmercy, Chris McCarrell’s talent and charm captivates audiences every night in Les Misérables.

Before stepping into the role of Marius, McCarrell made his Broadway debut in the 2014 revival playing the role of the revolutionist Joly, while at the same time understudying the role of Marius. He took over the role full time in 2015, serving as a perfect example of how an understudy can quickly become a Broadway star.

McCarrell grew up away from the lights of Broadway in Aurora, Ohio. His parents were also not in show business, with his mother working as a school guidance counselor and his father as a woodshop teacher. However, his older brother  was an actor, which inspired McCarrell to become a musical theatre actor, though his dream of performing professionally did not come until before his freshman year of high school. On the way home from a party for his retiring headmaster, where alumni in the performing arts came to perform, McCarrell said something clicked within him. From that night, he knew acting was what he wanted to pursue as a career.

After graduating from high school, McCarrell attended the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music. Known for its excellent musical theatre program, McCarrell appeared in many productions there, including PippinRent, and Sweeney Todd. McCarrell began his professional career immediately upon graduation by starring in the musical Summer of ’42 and the original production of Bubble Boy.

Before making his Broadway debut, McCarrell was cast in a concert of 35MM. McCarrell displayed his tremendous talent alongside Broadway stars including Lesli Margherita and Zachary Levi.

After several years of performing in regional productions, McCarrell’s hard work paid off. In 2014 he was cast in the revival of Les Misérables. Marius Pontmercy, the role which he would eventually become known for, was then being played by Andy Mientus. When Mientus left the show on March 1, 2015, McCarrell took over the role. McCarrell continues to bring a youthfulness and sweetness to his character, and he brings the house down nightly with his emotional take on ‘Empty Chairs at Empty Tables’.  And while Les Misérables will be fighting at the barricade for the last time on September 4, McCarrell’s performance will be remembered for years to come.

In addition to appearing on Broadway eight times a week, McCarrell has appeared in concert and on television. McCarrell performed in a sold-out show at 54 Below in 2015, and later returned to 54 Below for his Christmas concert, Christmas Carols with Chris McCarrell. He also appeared in the 2014 NBC live television musical Peter Pan as Lost Boy Nibs.

In an interview with Cleveland.com, McCarrell said that he was planning on ‘definitely staying on Broadway and originating, and keeping Broadway current and exciting and young and progressive. That’s where I want to be, in the center of that.’

With his soaring voice, captivating talents, and leading man charm, that’s where Broadway audiences want to see McCarrell too.

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