Brothers stage surprise!

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 August, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 August, 1996, 12:00am

When Sofia Forrai bought tickets for Les Miserables, little did she know that she would end up watching her own sons on stage.

Both Michael, nine, and David, 12, were on the barricade, battling alongside the rest of the revolutionaries when the musical came to Hong Kong.

Between the time she booked their tickets, in November 1995, and the time the lavish production arrived at the Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui, both had successfully auditioned for the production.

'I bought tickets for the boys because I wanted them to experience some musical culture. Neither of them had heard the musical before,' said Mrs Forrai.

And the family's adventure did not finish when Les Miserables left Hong Kong. The brothers have just returned from South Korea, where they performed in Seoul in front of audiences of more than 2,000 people.

After the hustle of signing autographs for fans in South Korea, they are now back home with their tour-jackets and their memories.

Michael and David were among three boys selected from more than 50 who auditioned for the part of street-urchin Gavroche.

One of Michael's teachers at Glenealy Junior School had suggested he audition and David, determined not to be outdone by his younger brother, decided to tag along.

They were both selected for the part, but even more amazing was that until the casting director had decided to take them both on, he did not know they were brothers.

Their mother - chuffed as she was - had the problem of finding two people to take the spare tickets she had bought for the performance.

The brothers took it in turns with the third young actor to play Gavroche, a major role in Victor Hugo's story of Les Miserables.

The death of Gavroche signifies the end of hope for the students' revolution against the dreadful living conditions of poor and oppressed people in France during the last century.

The character is on stage for two of the musical's three-and-a-half hours and performs four solo songs.

It was a great challenge for the brothers, who had no previous experience beyond school plays.

After just two weeks of rehearsals in Singapore, David was faced with the daunting task of performing in the musical's long-awaited opening night in Hong Kong. The full house included Governor Chris Patten.

'At first, it was nerve-racking but after the first song, it felt just like an empty theatre,' he said.

The boys soon became confident about going on stage. The only time they would admit to nerves after the first night was 'when mum was watching'.

Michael first performed the part without even a dress rehearsal, which he said led to some difficulties.

'I almost got lost on stage. I couldn't see the barricade through all the smoke, which hadn't been there in rehearsal.' The brothers look similar but brought very different qualities to the role.

'Michael was the cute guy you'd want to cuddle. I was rather more dramatic,' said David, brandishing a photo of himself in the throes of his death-scene.

They have both been bitten by the performance-bug. Michael has declared himself ready to audition for anything and everything in the future. David said it was an experience he would be disappointed not to repeat.

He wants to play another urchin - the Artful Dodger in Oliver Twist.

Andrew is a Young Post summer intern.