Les Miserables will make the debut of its new National Touring Production right here in Cleveland with performances ranging from October 7 – 30 at Playhouse Square’s KeyBank State Theatre.

{Complete show and ticket information can be found on our calendar: RIGHT HERE!}

More information about the all-new production can be found in our advance piece: RIGHT HERE, as told by cast member Steve Czarnecki (Farmer, Brujon, understudy for Javert, Fight Captain).

Today, it’s time to meet Mr. Czarnecki! The journey that brought him to his role in the upcoming has been an adventurous one!

While he jokes that, “I only do 80’s Mega-musicals,” due to his roles in prominent shows including Beauty and the Beast, Phantom of the Opera, and multiple stints with Les Miserables; truth is, his resume is too deep for him to completely recall!

Phoning in from downtown Cleveland during a break from tech rehearsals, Czarnecki shared his story with CleveRock.

His first taste of live theater came as a child when he attended a performance of Beaty and the Beast in Detroit.

“I remember, specifically, the transformation scene where the Beast turns into the Prince at the end and I was like, ‘What!? How do they do that!?” he recalls. “It was so exciting.”

Soon after, Steve began to attend shows put on by his sister’s summer theater program that his local school district ran.

“I said to my mom after one show, ‘That looks really fun! I’d really like to do that.’

This writer would love to see the stats on how many children desire to become performers versus how many pursue them. Taking it a step further, how many are successful in his or her quest? It’s safe to say that Czarnecki has defied the odds!

One of Czarnecki’s secrets was to get an early jump on his craft. His first performance (disappointingly, captured nowhere on Betamax or VHS camcorder), came in elementary school.

“The first show I did was called ‘Of Mice and Mozart,’ a historical told by the mice that lived in Mozart’s mansion,” he said with a laugh. “It was so silly and used Mozart’s music for the songs. It was hilarious.”

After continuing to perform in plays throughout school, he really honed his craft in the great state of Ohio while attending Otterbein University in Westerville.

“I got a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theater Performance and that’s also where I met my wife, who is also in the theater industry,” he revealed. “She’s a Columbus native herself. Even though I’m from Michigan I do have some deep love for the great state of Ohio.”

Unfortunately, this Czarnecki character is a Michigan football fan. (Please note: it is poor theater etiquette to shout ‘O-H’ when he enters the stage!)

On the flip side:

“My wife is an Ohio State fan and that’s always been a point of contention that I am usually losing on,” he said, again. laughing.

Breaking into acting wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows! Czarnecki had to work some restaurant and catering jobs to make ends meet while waiting on the acting paychecks to support himself. Steve was asked to describe the most bizarre job he had to work to keep food on the table.

“I’ve worked so many survival jobs,” he calls. “That’s what we like to call them; those side hustles.The weirdest one I did is I demonstrated a line of magic toys at FAO Schwarz in New York. I was demonstrating and selling Marvin’s Magic and I would not want to do that again!”

Steve also took a remote in health care during the pandemic as theater gigs were the first to shut down and last to reopen. He does recall the feeling of returning the stage post-shutdown.

“My first show back was this past Spring. It was at a theater called Paper Mill Playhouse outside of New York City in New Jersey. Coming back, the whole landscape of theater had changed. We’re all testing. We’re all wearing masks in rehearsals. It was dictated by different levels of COVID in each community. Different theaters have different rules based on union rules. It’s a whole lot to negotiate,” he explained. “The rehearsal process was strange. To get back on stage at that theater in New Jersey for the first time back onstage, it was overwhelming to kind of know that I was back doing that again after two years of nothing.”

With so many shows under his belt, this writer challenged Steve to see if he could pick some career highlights. Challenge accepted.

“That’s hard, but yes,” he said reluctantly. “I was involved in the Les Mis Tour from 2017-2019 when it was out previously. I understudied Javert and Valjean. My wife was in that production as well We got to perform in that together. We’ve had a couple of opportunities to do that on the road. We performed together in the Beauty and the Beast Tour back in 2010. I also got to be in the Phantom of the Opera National Tour and got to understudy nine different roles and could jump in at a moment’s notice. It was a really exciting job.”

“Because it’s such a passion that you have from a young age, there will always be full circle moments. I loved that show and saw it as a kid. I got to do it as the first professional show I did out of college, and with my wife. I understudied the Beast and Gaston and my wife played Belle. I got to on with both parts with her. It was so exciting. I did Les Miserable in High School with my best friend, who’s also an actor. He and I have both in the professional production of the National Tour of Les Miserable now. There are just all of these full-circle moments that can happen in your career.

Every time it happens, it’s like, ‘I’m in the right place. I made the right decision in life.’” he continued. “It feels really good.”

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