Follow your passion, ‘Les Miserables’ actors tell Lusher theater students

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A.J. Allegra, far right, director of musical theater at Lusher, speaks with Stavros Koumbaros, center, and Paige Smallwood, left, of the musical Les Miserables in front of a group of 35 students. The play is at the Saenger Theater from January 8 through 13th. (Zach Brien,

Theater students from a local high school had the opportunity to hear from two actors from “Les Miserables,” a Tony award-winning musical playing at the Saenger Theatre until Jan. 13.

On Wednesday, Paige Smallwood and Stavros Koumbaros, actors from “Les Miserables,” spoke with 35 theater students at Lusher Charter School on Freret Street. During the event arranged by Broadway in New Orleans and the Orleans Parish School Board, the actors answered questions from A.J. Allegra, director of the musical theater division at Lusher, and directly from the students themselves.

Smallwood and Koumbaros are recent college graduates. Some students were curious as to how they knew they wanted a career in theater.

“If you’re passionate about it now, do it,” Underwood said.

Paige Smallwood, right, actor from Les Miserables, answers questions from theater students at Lusher Charter School on Wednesday.  (Zach Brien,

“Regardless of what field you go into,” Koumbaros said. “You have to go into it passionately. It’s totally OK to do that.”

Smallwood and Koumbaros are young enough to remember being in these students’ shoes. They know what it means for those students to hear from professionals.

“’One of my mentors said that we are like birds. We see the shiny things and we take the shiny things,’” Smallwood said, speaking about passing on knowledge to a younger generation. “I’m just hoping that I can give them some ‘shiny stuff’ to take along the way.”

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