North Providence's DaSilva takes the stage for 'Les Mis'

North Providence's DaSilva takes the stage for 'Les Mis'

Matt DaSilva has his fantasy football league to thank for his audition with Ocean State Theatre Company for their upcoming presentation of "Les Miserables." If it weren't for the draft, he may not have come home from New York for the weekend in time to audition.

"I saw the audition notice, and it happened to coincide with [the draft] for my high school friends' fantasy football league," said the North Providence actor in our recent interview at the theater.

Ocean State Theatre Company is the first regional theater in the area to produce "Les Miserables," a true Broadway blockbuster that was recently turned into a movie starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway. The story of Jean Valjean, set against the backdrop of the French Revolution, has become a classic.

DaSilva wasn't really familiar with OSTC, but he's been pursuing an acting career in New York since graduating from Harvard in 2012 - with a degree in history.

DaSilva, son of North Providence School Committee member Rod DaSilva, has been acting off and on since he was eight years old, when he appeared in "A Christmas Carol" at Trinity Rep as Tiny Tim. "My parents took me to see the show when I was seven, and I remember telling my mother I'd like to do this." The next year, she took him to the auditions, and he landed the feature role. For the next four years, he played the Turkey Boy in Trinity's productions. He also appeared in "The Music Man," "Cider House Rules" and a few other shows until he was 12.

He did "a few things" with the drama department at North Providence High School, but he wasn't that deeply involved in the program. He divided his extracurricular activities between drama and sports - swimming in the winter, playing baseball and running cross-country in the spring.

At Harvard, he got involved in some of their drama programs, thinking it would be a worthwhile use of his time. "I did 'Grease' there, I did 'Little Shop of Horrors' my senior year. And I got into the Hasty Pudding Theatricals when I was a junior. That's a student-run, student-composed, student-written burlesque-style musical with 12 males, six dressed like women, six dressed like men."

DaSilva never got to dress like a woman. "I think I was one of the guys who could have been in the shows for 20 years and never get cast as a woman. My senior year, I was gunning for one of the female characters, and my director said, 'No, you're ugly.' Although, every show ends in a kick line, where we all get to dress as women, so I got to wear my heels plenty."

In "Les Miserables," DaSilva is part of the ensemble. Does his history degree help him understand the context of the show? "A little bit. I didn't do much French Revolution."

As an ensemble player "I've got a couple of different names throughout the show. There's a standing challenge that if anyone sees the show and they're able to recognize any of my names, they'll get my congratulations."

"Everyone who hears we're doing 'Les Mis' says, 'Wow, that's ambitious,' and I think it's really nice that people have so much respect for it, because it's true, it is ambitious," says OSTC producing artistic director Amiee Turner. "And it's really going amazingly well. I have an unbelievable cast."

For Turner, one of the most exciting parts about doing this show "is that we have more local folk, New England folk, in this production than in any show we've done. So the fact that we're able to find these people - that they find us - is really exciting."

DaSilva is enjoying the process, watching everything come together. His biggest challenge is that he's not all that familiar with the show.

When asked about the difficult aspects of working on this show, DaSilva said, "I saw the movie, but I've never seen the show, so learning everything: Music, lots of small parts. Amiee says that the best way to make a show professional is to hit your marks as accurately as possible, so I have to learn everything, and be diligent to put everything into it. That and waking up at 10 o'clock every morning."

Ocean State Theatre Company presents "Les Miserables" through Oct. 27 in its new space on Jefferson Boulevard in Warwick. Visit www.oceanstatetheatre.org or call 401-921-6800 for tickets and information.