West End star Fra in second global hit14, July 2011 | By: Catherine Wylie | 1 Comment »
His father Frank is a local theatre veteran, making regular appearances in both Coalisland’s CRAIC Theatre and Donaghmore’s Bardic, but 24-year-old Fra Fee has hit the big time in London, starring in Les Miserables, the second West End show of his career.
The former Saint Patrick’s Academy student is now playing the role of Jean Provaire in the Queen’s Theatre, making his first appearance in the show back in June which Fra says was simply an “incredible” night.
“To be sharing the stage with the likes of Alfie Boe as Jean Valjean and Matt Lucas, who is hilarious in the role of Thenardier, is simply astounding. There’s also a great deal of excitement for Les Mis at the moment since it’s in its 25th year in the West End and plans for a movie adaptation are underway.
“At the moment, I’m rehearsing the role of Marius during the day and performing as Jean Provaire at night so admittedly it’s a bit exhausting but all worth it. I feel very lucky to be in this position,” he said.
To play Marius is Fra’s dream role in musical theatre, and for five weeks this year that dream will come true, not to mention the opportunity to play Enjolras should that actor take ill.
Originally from Killyman, Fra’s West End career began when he played the lead vocal role in Dirty Dancing at the Aldwych Theatre, the character made famous for carrying melons.
His stint in Dirty Dancing ended last July and he returned to Ireland to star in Aladdin at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin, which led to him performing on The Late Late Show.
“Aladdin was a seriously fun experience, but when it ended I moved back to London to search for my next job. My first audition back in London was for Les Miserables for the part of Marius.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself for this audition as Les Mis is a show I’ve always wanted to be a part of and Marius is quite literally my dream role.
“It’s very different to the previous jobs I’ve had. Dirty Dancing was a lot of fun, but very obviously different in terms of content. It’s a nice not to be clapping along with the music and to be ‘serious’ for a change,” he said.
Fra is contracted to star in Les Mis for the next year but says that he may want to extend his contract. Playing to thousands of people every week, this is a career a young actor from rural Northern Ireland isn’t likely to give up.
“A year can be a long time when you’re doing the same thing every night, but it just depends on how things pan out.
“It seems strange to be thinking of other roles I’d love to play, as Marius is what I’ve wanted to play ever since I can remember. But Tobias in Sweeney Todd is one of my favourite roles in musical theatre. Hopefully one day I’ll get the opportunity to play it,” he said.
The Coalisland Post would happily bet that one day he will.