Performing two dream roles is experience of a lifetime

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - As Fantine, Laila Murphy sells her hair to support her child.

Metropolitan Performing Arts Academy will present the musical “Les Miserables” at the Newmark Theater in Portland Aug. 16, 17, 18, 23 and 24.

Based on the Victor Hugo novel of the same title, the production depicts life in France in the 1800s along with its politics, moral philosophy, justice and romantic and family love.

Ex-convict Jean Valjean is hunted for decades by the ruthless policeman Javert after he breaks parole. When Valjean agrees to care for factory worker Fantine’s young daughter, Cosette, their lives change forever.

Lake Oswego actress Laila Murphy appears as Fantine, a woman forced into prostitution to support her daughter Cosette, who is abused by the family in whose care she was left.

Murphy previously played the role of Eponine, the eldest daughter of the family caring for Fantine’s daughter, in a Broadway Rose Theatre production. Eponine, pampered and spoiled by her parents as a child, ends up on the street as an adolescent and turns to crime and begging to obtain money.

Both roles are considered plums in the theatrical world.

“I am now playing the role of Fontine, who is a dream role for many women,” said Murphy. “Five years ago I was in “Les Miserables” with the Broadway Rose Theater Company playing the part of Eponine, who is the other dream role for many women.

“Playing both of these roles in my life is unbelievable and quite a different experience from each other. It’s like winning a gold medal. I didn’t think anyone could love this musical as much as me. But everybody in the cast does and are putting their heart and soul into the production.”

Based in Vancouver, Wash., MPAA is among the first community theater organizations chosen to present “Les Miserables.”

The academy was founded three years ago by Noah Scott, who serves as its creative director. The non-profit offers a well-rounded education in acting, singing, dance, musical theater, music and art. The academy will present “Oliver” in fall 2013.

For more information on “Les Miserables” or the Newmark Theatre in Portland, visit or phone 503-248-4335.

For more information about MPAA visit

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