Back in 1987, classically trained tenor Craig Schulman was pursuing a career in opera when his agent asked him to audition for the First National Company tour of Les Miserables.
The singer not only landed a role in the chorus, but was made the understudy for Jean Valjean, the show's principal character. After just one month of performances, Schulman made his Valjean debut in Boston. He took over the role permanently 10 weeks later. He made his Broadway debut in 1990, and appeared variously through 1996. Today, with over 1,900 Valjean appearances to his credit, Schulman has performed the role more than any other actor.
Schulman and pianist Sue Anderson perform at 8 p.m. Monday in Bowling Green State University's Kobacker Hall. The event, free and open to the public, is part of a two-day residency.
Les Miserables established Schulman's career, but the singer's willingness to try new things has sustained it. Major roles include the Phantom, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Tevye, and others.
"I consider myself very lucky because a life in theater is very difficult. It can be plenty rewarding, but the truth is that the moments of glamor are few and far between. You have to be smart enough to constantly reinvent yourself and accept the realities of new circumstances," said Schulman, 48, this week from New York.
Schulman's BGSU residency includes master classes for college and high school students. He'll give them plenty of musical pointers and tips on how to audition. And he will remind them of the obstacles facing anyone entertaining a career in music. "You have to want it more than anything else in the world. And it's even harder now than it used to be," he said.
His recital will include show tunes, possibly an aria or two, and, course, selections from his signature roles in Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera.
Tenor Craig Schulman and pianist Sue Anderson perform at 8 p.m. Monday in BGSU's Kobacker Hall. Admission is free. Information: 419-372-8888.
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