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It is a life Andersons Bay School pupil Felix Kamo will have to emulate when he takes on the role of Gavroche in Musical Theatre Dunedin’s production of Les Miserables tonight.
Felix is the youngest member of the mainly adult cast, in what is one of the largest productions to hit the stage in Dunedin.
"In the show, I’m pretty much just a beggar who has to act tough to look after himself.
"It’s a sad life."
With an understanding belying his age, he said there were a lot of children like Gavroche in New Zealand, who were poor with old and ripped clothes and not much food to eat.
He said thinking about what life must be like for those children helped him inject emotion into his character.
Les Miserables tells a story of adversity, broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption.
But it was not all grimness and heartache for Felix.
He said climbing over the giant barricade on the spectacular set at the Regent Theatre was the best part of his role.
"It’s pretty fun. It’s pretty big and bulky. You have to try to find your way around it.
"It’s like playing in the playground."
Felix said he had been in "a few school shows" before, but this would be his first really big show.
"So, yeah, I’m very nervous. I’ve got to just take a big deep breath, be brave and just do it. It should get easier as I go."
Felix will share the role with fellow young actor Bayfield High School pupil Lucas MacLeod (13), who will play the part on alternating nights of the late-finishing show.
"It’s so we don’t get too tired," Felix said.
The part he was looking forward to the most was taking "the big bow" at the end of the show with all the adult cast members.
"And then I get to go home and sleep."
The show runs at the Regent Theatre until May 15.