A few weeks ago, Twitch exclusively reported that Taylor Swift had been offered the role of Eponine in Tom Hooper‘s Les Miserables adaptation – news which struck most people with ears and eyes as a terrible pick (myself heartily included). But it looks like that news was perhaps a bit too premature, as Swift will not be playing the rich girl turned street urchin (and one segment of the story’s love triangle). Instead, the all-star production has gone in a different direction – by reportedly hiring on an actual trained Broadway actress who has played the role before.

Samantha Barks will take on the role, which she previously played in the wildly popular 25th anniversary concert version of the classic story. The news was announced by Cameron Mackintosh (who is also a producer on Hooper’s film) live on stage at the Manchester Palace during the curtain call of a performance of Oliver!, a production in which Barks was playing the role of Nancy. While it’s unclear at this time, most observers seem to think the official news was a surprise even to Barks, who apparently looked both elated and surprised by the news.

Barks has trained at the Arts Educational school, which she left to join a BBC reality show called I’d Do Anything, which sounds a bit like an American Idol type program, one launched specifically to find a new Nancy for the Oliver! production. She made it to the top three, which she followed with a part in the workshop for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies, her stage debut in the national tour of Cabaret, the lead role in Aladdin, her West End debut as Eponine in Les Miserables, capped off withe her work in the the anniversary concert. Now, doesn’t that sound like someone built for the role?

The casting of Barks is perhaps some of the best news I’ve heard in regards to Hooper’s Les Miz, and certainly the most encouraging when it comes to the quality of showmanship and singing we might expect from it. [Broadway World, via Movieline]


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