Sunday September 08, 2013
After the Revolution: An Interview with Michael Maguire, the original Enjolras in 'Les Miserables'
It's less a lazy Sunday than a Les Miz Sunday.
To go along with my sister's chance encounter with Hugh Jackman at the Toronto airport, here is part of my Q&A with Michael Maguire, who played the original Enjolras on Broadway, and is now a family law attorney in Beverly Hills:
Q: You won a Tony for playing Enjolras in the original Broadway production of Les Miserables. You perform with symphonies all over the country. So I have to ask: Why law?
A: I wanted to go to law school for years. I just wanted the intellectual challenge. I mean, I do recognize that I have a physical gift. It’s almost like being a fast runner or something. I have a talent that I needed and still need to share.
But while I was singing with symphonies, I was also buying and restoring old houses in Hancock Park in Los Angeles. I love historic restoration. I made good money doing that. But the market started looking soft to me in 2005 and I thought, “If I’m ever going to go to law school I should do it right now before I’m just too old and lazy to do it.”
Q: And why family law?
A: I had a nasty divorce. During the course of that divorce, I started recognizing that my attorneys were billing me a tremendous amount of money for basically regurgitating what I told them. Or they were checking boxes that I could have checked. And they didn’t understand numbers like I did because I’d been a broker on Wall Street prior to going into the theater. I just had a mission in my life, and it continues to this day, to try to keep other people from going through that. ...
Q: Does it ever get in the way of your family law practice—the fact that you played Enjolras?
A: I don’t tell anybody about it.
Q: Right, but …
A: So if somebody knows, it may, and only for a minute, get in the way. Actually, if anything, it gets in the way of the opposing counsel. Because they think, “Oh, this guy’s just a singer.”
Q: So they’ll underestimate you.
A: They underestimate me big time. And that’s their big mistake.
Maguire dominated the “Les Mis” cover of Newsweek magazine in 1987. In a bit of coincidence, that cover was designed by Patricia.
Maguire's voice still gives me chills, by the way, particularly the way he sings the following:
With all the anger in the land
How long before the Judgement Day?
Before we cut the fat ones down to size
Before the barricades arise?
It's my favorite part of the musical, give or take an “oo and ah.” Or an empty table or empty chair.
You can hear the person sing here. He shows up at 1:54: