AS a member of the mighty ensemble in Les Miserables, Danny Colligan plays everyone from a rat-catcher scurrying about the streets of Paris to a revolutionary student at the barricades.

And each of the 10 characters he plays has a back story in the epic show. “Every single character on stage has their own story. Even in the background, you’re someone who is busy getting on with something,” says the Bradford actor. “We had an intense rehearsal period where we worked on various characters. There’s so much going on in the show; you could focus on a different character each night and get something new out of it.”

Les Miserables, Cameron Mackintosh’s smash hit, beloved by audiences worldwide, is nearing the end of a month-long run at the Alhambra, the only Yorkshire venue on its UK tour. Danny is delighted to be on the Alhambra stage - where he first appeared as a child - and the icing on the cake has been playing Marius for a couple of performances.


“I’m a cover for Marius so I know the role, but you never know when you’re going to get the call. I got told at 9.30am and was in the matinee at 2.30pm the same day, then the evening performance. I was terrified, but once on stage I relaxed into it,” says Danny, who resembles Eddie Redmayne, Marius in the 2012 film of Les Mis. “To do the part I have wanted to play since I discovered musical theatre, and to do it in my home town, at the Alhambra...It doesn’t get better than that.

“My family came to see me. My mum and dad have done so much for me, I wouldn’t be doing this without them. They had a barbecue last week, I took about 10 members of the cast along!”

The show stars West End legend Killian Donnelly as Jean Valjean, the former convict on a journey to redemption in post-revolutionary Paris, pursued by police inspector Javert. In one of Danny’s favourite scenes, Valjean takes the injured Marius from the barricades, after the army has opened fire on the rebels, and prays for God to protect him.

“When Killian was singing Bring Him Home to me, as Marius, it was quite a moment,” smiles Danny, relaxing between shows backstage at the Alhambra. “It’s a stunning show. The set design, inspired by Victor Huge’s paintings, and the projections and lighting are phenomenal. The scene in the sewers, and Javert and the Seine...amazing.”

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Danny, 26, who went to St Bede’s School in Heaton, first auditioned for Les Miserables four years ago. “I wasn’t ready for it then. This is the right time,” he says. “It’s an incredible show to be part of. I’ve got 14 costume changes, the fastest one is when I’ve done the convict scene then 30 seconds later I’m on a cart getting wheeled back on stage.”

Originally from Clayton, he moved to Bingley aged 16. He went to Idle theatre school Stage 84 and Ilkley Upstagers. “I was a bit hyper as a child and used performing arts to let off steam. Then I did Footloose with Stage 84 at the Alhambra when I was 17 and discovered I loved singing.” He studied musical theatre at drama school in Guildford and his theatre credits include The Book of Mormon in the West End.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Danny in grey coat, left of centre, in Les Miserables. Picture: Matthew MurphyDanny in grey coat, left of centre, in Les Miserables. Picture: Matthew Murphy

In 2017 Danny reached the final of BBC1’s Let it Shine, Gary Barlow’s search for a boyband for Take That’s musical, The Band. Danny and fellow Stage 84 alumnus Bradley Johnson were in five-piece Nightfall, losing out to Five to Five. “We’re still in touch,” says Danny. “It was a great experience; I learned about camera angles and making the most of that chance to sing on a Saturday night. And I performed with Mel C and Take That, the band I loved as a kid. My mum was a huge fan and always played them in the car, she was beside herself when I sang with them.”

Danny, who sings with a band called The Other Guys, has been in ITV medical drama The Royal and would like to do more TV drama. “I love theatre, it’s great to be versatile. But if something like Emmerdale called, I’d be happy to give it a go,” he smiles.

* Les Miserables is at the Alhambra until August 10. Call (01274) 432000.