Les Miserables may be celebrating its 30th birthday later this year, but the classic musical is not showing its age. It continues to attract audiences from all around the world and is one of the West End’s biggest and most iconic shows, with no sign of its record-breaking run ending any time soon. Les Miserables has inspired so many people in so many ways, including musical theatre performers themselves, some of whom have cited it as the musical which made them fall in love with the stage. It’s a musical that nearly every performer aspires to be in, and has been a springboard for many West End star over the years. There may be a future West End leading man/lady there right now, and one who has the potential to achieve that status is Oliver Brenin, who is the featured ensemble member for this edition of In Profile.
Oliver Brenin is a graduate of Arts Educational Schools, London, joining its exceptional list of fellow alumni that also includes Bonnie Langford, the Strallen sisters, Nigel Harman, Samantha Barks and Oliver Tompsett, to name a few. He performed in numerous productions whilst training there, playing such roles as Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance, Albert in The Secret Garden and Malcolm in The Full Monty.
Since graduating from ArtsEd, he has gone on to add many more stage credits to his CV. One of his earliest professional jobs allowed him an opportunity to play an original role in a brand new musical, appearing as Press Three in the cast recording of Spitting Distance (National Theatre Studio).
He was soon heading to the West though – the West End, that is, as he made his début there as part of the company of Follies at the London Palladium. He left soon after for another first, this time tackling the challenge of life on the road following his casting in the UK Tour of South Pacific. He had an ensemble role in the touring production of the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, which was led by Helena Blackman and Dave Willetts, but also covered the role of Lt. Cable. The tour ran until 19th July 2008, after which he returned to London to appear in his second West End show.
New musical Imagine This made its West End première at the New London Theatre in November 2008, with Brenin featuring in the original London company as a member of the ensemble team, performing alongside Peter Polycarpou, Simon Gleeson and Leila Benn Harris.
He was next seen in Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s critically acclaimed revival of Hello Dolly!, staged as part of their 2009 summer season. Between 30th July and 12th September 2009, he appeared in the role of Barnaby as part of a company led by Samantha Spiro (Dolly) and Allan Corduner (Horace).
He spent some time travelling after that, first visiting Germany to perform at the English Theatre of Frankfurt in a production of The Full Monty where he played the principal role of Ethan, who makes a big impression at his audition to join the strip act. He was then cast as Billy Lawler in Chichester Festival Theatre’s production of 42nd Street, which ran from 21st June to 28th August 2010 and also starred Lauren Hall, Tim Flavin and Kathryn Evans. Then it was back to globe-trotting again for an international performance as The Scarecrow in Louder Than Words’ production of The Wizard of Oz at Larnaka Festival, Cyprus.
His return to the UK also brought him back to the West End. One of his most notable theatre credits to date, he joined the smash hit musical Wicked as part of the West End production’s October 2011 cast change. He spent three years in the show as a Swing and regularly played the principal role of Doctor Dillamond on stage during his time at the Apollo Victoria.
His other theatre credits include Children Will Listen (Theatre Royal Drury Lane), A Heart Full of Love (Germany Tour), Sondheim’s 75th Birthday Gala (Theatre Royal), and workshop performances as Much the Miller’s Son in Twang, Simon in Some Sunny Day, and RiZen. Additionally, he has played several pantomime roles, appearing as Prince Charming in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and the Genie in Aladdin (Rhyl Pavillion), and Prince Charming in Cinderella (Leicester/Hackney Empire).
Most recently, he was involved in the première of another new show. He appeared in Paul Harnett’s original musical Alice: A New Musical, which debuted at the St Jame’s Theatre on 9th March 2015 as part of the venue’s series of lunchtime plays. He starred as The Mad Hatter in a cast which also included Hannah Toy (Alice), Kerry Enwright (The Queen of Hearts), Mateo Oxley (Cheshire Cat), and Daniel Hope (White Rabbit/Lory). The final performance was on 21st March 2015, after which he moved on to his current job in one of the biggest West End shows of all time.
Oliver Brenin is now appearing at the Queen’s Theatre in the West End’s longest-running musical, Les Miserables. He joined the current cast in June 2015, which is led by Peter Lockyer as Jean Valjean and Jeremy Secomb as Javert, and also stars Rachelle Ann Go (Fantine), Katy Secombe (Mme Thernadier), Phil Daniels (Thernadier), Rob Houchen (Marius), Carrie Hope Fletcher (Eponine), Zoe Doano (Cosette) and Bradley Jaden (Enjolras). He was cast as a Les Mis Swing, covering numerous male roles in the show.
This talented performer continues to prove his worth with every stage appearance, no matter whether it’s in a principal role or as a member of the ensemble. Theatre fans can be thankful that he’s back in the West End once again, and hope that he’ll be sticking around for a long time to come.
You can follow Oliver on Twitter: @olibrenin
By Julie Robinson: @missjulie25
Saturday 18th July 2015