Grove City Record

Veterans, newcomers team up on 'Les Mis'

Cast includes 10-year-olds with multiple credits, 56-year-old retiree in lead role

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Tanner Sells said his favorite part of playing Gavroche in the Hilliard Arts Council's production of Les Miserables is dying.

"That's my favorite experience, too," said his sister Carly, who plays Young Eponine. "He gets shot like five times."

Tanner and Carly Sells, two members of a set of 10-year-old Grove City triplets, are among the cast in the musical to be performed at 8 p.m. Friday, July 12, and Saturday, July 13, and 3 p.m. Sunday, July 14, in the performing arts center at Hilliard Darby High School, 4200 Leppert Road.

The third sibling, Keegan, also auditioned for the part of Gavroche, the street urchin.

"(Tanner) looked more the part," Carly said.

"She's sassy," Keegan said of his sister. "I'm the quiet one."

The triplets have been acting since they were infants, first appearing in an in-house training video for Ross Labs. Since then, they've done a number of commercials, videos and plays, including the Little Theatre Off Broadway productions of Seussical the Musical, The Music Man and To Kill a Mockingbird, in which Tanner and Keegan played Jem and Dill.

"I love my part (in Les Miserables)," Tanner said. "I haven't had a part this big before."

Tanner said that when he first started out, he thought people might make fun of him for being into acting, but the LTOB instructors helped him become more confident.

"Then, I didn't care if people found I liked acting," he said.

Being part of a play, Carly said, also means making friends with the other cast members and forming a makeshift family during production.

"We have tons of different theater families," she said.

While her role isn't as large as her brother's, Carly said she's happy to be part of a production of the musical, having enjoyed the recent film adaptation.

"I like getting to pretend I'm a different character every day," Carly said. "It's fun."

The triplets all said they would like to continue acting. Keegan would like to perform at the Ohio Theatre, Tanner at New York's Times Square and Carly on Broadway.

Carly eventually wants to play Elphaba in Wicked. Tanner said he wants to play Marius in Les Miserables as well as Fiyero in Wicked, but Carly said they wouldn't be able to be in the same production.

"I would have to kiss you," she told him.

Keegan said he would like to play one of the Flying Monkeys.

The cast of Les Miserables includes around 110 performers. While the Sells triplets are veterans of the stage, Tim Julian, 56, a Hilliard area resident, is a newcomer. The recently retired Julian plays Jean Valjean.

"It's a story of grace, redemption, and getting second chances," he said.

For the past 28, years, Julian has been in the ministry and for the past 17 years has served at Meadow Park Church of God, where he was on the pastoral staff and directed music.

"I retired last year and now have the time to devote to rehearsals and performances," Julian said.

Director Robin Brenneman scrapped the arts council's originally scheduled summer production as soon as she learned the rights to produce Les Miserables had made available been for the first time to community theaters.

"It's absolutely our favorite show," Robin Brenneman said. "I've always wanted to do it (but the rights were not available). We had something else picked out but dropped that like a hot potato as soon as learned we could do Les Mis."

Tickets for the show are $15 for adults, and $12 for senior citizens and students. Tickets are available in advance at hilliardartscouncil.org, or at the door at the times of performances.

The show is recommended for those 10 and older due to its complicated subject matter, Brenneman said.

ThisWeek Reporter Kevin Corvo contributed to this story.

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