Broadway Star of “Les Mis” Returns to New Trier

North Shore native Betsy Morgan, who currently stars in Broadway in Chicago’s “Les Miserables,” launched her musical theater career right here in Chicago.

She landed a role in “Mamma Mia!”—even after a flustered audition.

“I forgot my shoes outside the room, I went in with bare feet and I swore by accident,” she remembered. “They must have been charmed by that!”

Sure enough, a couple of weeks later, she learned that she had been chosen for a part in the ensemble. And with that single stroke of luck, combined with years of hard work, her stardom began.

Morgan, a 1999 New Trier Township High School graduate, shared her dazzling voice and humorous, insightful stories with more than 70 students in the school’s Choir Opera class on Friday, Feb. 18.

The night before, the students had the chance to see Morgan perform in her current Broadway role as Fantine in the Chicago run of “Les Misérables.” Coincidentally, New Trier’s own production of “Les Mis” is set to open March 11.

Morgan described her own academic experiences at New Trier as “extraordinary” and praised the range and sheer number of theater opportunities the school offers. “My experiences at New Trier prepared me so well for the real world,” she said.

Yet, she advised students to take classes outside of the drama realm. “I will always push education first,” she said. “Take classes as far from theater as possible—then come back.” Morgan received a liberal arts education at Emerson College in Boston.

After surveying the class and hearing that the majority aspired to be involved with musical theater after graduation, Morgan answered questions and offered tips on memorizing 80 plus pages of music (she studies it while on the elliptical at the gym) and even revealed her own struggles with stage fright (“My hands are shaking right now!” she exclaimed).

She ended the class period by singing “Part of Your World” from one of her Broadway credits, “The Little Mermaid,” and presenting the students with a “Les Misérables” poster signed by all of the current Broadway cast members.

You still have time to catch Morgan perform as Fantine in “Les.” The Chicago production, held in Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 West Randolph Street in Chicago, runs through February 27. Visit broadwayinchicago.com for dates and ticket information.

New Trier’s musical theatre production of Les Misérables— School Edition runs  March 10, 11 and 12 at 7:30 p.m. and March 13 at 2 p.m. in  the school’s Gaffney Auditorium, 385 Winnetka Ave. in Winnetka. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased through the New Trier website.