A good bit of “Les Miserables” concerns the unexpected roads a life can lead you down.
An actor’s life can make those roads literal. And Randal Keith’s path has led to the Plaza, where he now sings “Bring Him Home” a little more than a mile from Cashman Field Theater, where he belted the same song in 2004.
Back then, he was playing Jean Valjean, which he did for nine years with “Les Miserables.” Keith remembers the poignance of playing the Aladdin in the wake of the September 2001 terrorist attacks, and he was still center stage for that return trip to Cashman.
“Les Miserables” moves back to the front lines of pop culture with the movie version on Christmas Day. “I’ve done (the show) over 3,000 times and when I saw the trailer, I teared up,” Keith says. “I thought, OK, if they can still affect me after 3,000 times, they must be doing something right.”
But now he is part of “The Phat Pack,” a cabaret show he formed with Ted Keegan and Bruce Ewing, two other singers from The Venetian’s bygone “Phantom” production.
Keith also played King Arthur in “Monty Python’s Spamalot” when John O’Hurley wasn’t in the Wynn Las Vegas edition, so he’s used to being a star without star billing.
Now you’re thinking, “So that was the guy behind the Phantom mask!” Good guess, but no.
Keith was hiding in the chorus, thanks to a “Les Mis” show in Denver where he slipped in condensation from a fog machine and shattered his ankle.
Hello “Phantom” chorus. “I just needed the work and I needed the insurance.” Hobbling around for a better part of a year, “it was downsizing, but at the time it was what I needed.”
Plus, “I loved it here,” he says. The North Carolina native has “never been a New York person.” So when the “Phantom” closing notice came down, the Phat Pack decided to create its own opportunity, to see how comedy and show tunes would play on the Strip or on the road.
Keith says he still loves the “Les Mis” soundtrack. “I never get tired of it.” So, will sitting in a theater to watch Hugh Jackman onscreen make him feel like the train left the station without him?
He already felt that, he says, when a new tour reminded him it’s easier to put gray whiskers on a young actor as Valjean ages than to “youthen” one in his 50s.
But he still has “Bring Him Home.” And a movie to look forward to. “I think they did it right,” he predicts. “I shouldn’t have doubted it. This is a very special show to Cameron (Mackintosh, the producer).” And to Keith, it would seem.
Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0288.