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The Spotlight: Judy Durkin in 'Richard III' and Colin DePaula in 'Les Miserables'

July 27, 2011 |  9:30 am

A cast of 40, epic battle scenes and a killer death scene: How else would you want to spend the summer? A pair of young actors are living it up in Schönberg and Shakespeare: Colin DePaula, 12, plays Parisian gamin Gavroche in “Les Misérables” at the Ahmanson while Judy Durkin, 11, gender bends to become the doomed Duke of York in “Richard III” at Theatricum Botanicum. Here, the prince and the pauper talk showbiz.

Give us the basics.

Judy: I grew up in Santa Monica and I go to John Adams Middle School.

Colin: I was born in L.A. but moved to New York when I was 3. I live in Brooklyn. L.A. is my 16th city on this tour. I’m home schooled — my mom travels with me.

Regular school versus home schooling: discuss.

Colin: Home schooling’s way better because you don’t have to sit in one room all day. 

How did you get your part?

Judy Judy: I’ve been coming to Will Geer camp for four years; the camp director emailed my family and asked if I wanted to play the Duke of York. I’ve been playing a lot of girls recently, so playing a boy was really cool.  And a royal boy too.

Colin: I was playing "Oliver" when the "Les Miz" people sent an email around looking for kids. It took awhile. I think I went in four times to read.

Name a cast member you’ve learned from.

Judy: Chad [Jason Scheppner, who plays Richard III] has been my musical theater director since I was 6 or 7, so it’s really funny when he gets into character. He paints his face, so he doesn’t look like this nice guy I knew when I was little. I like the way he engages the audience; it’s really creepy how they know which characters are going to be killed before the characters do. 

Colin: Andrew Varela [Inspector Javert]. He’s a pro. You get nervous backstage, and it helps to see how comfortable he is.  He plays his role so well, one time during the curtain call he bowed and people booed.  

Spoiler alert: Care to share any insider info?

Colin: When Javert commits suicide by jumping off a bridge, there’s a robot arm that comes out of the upstage wall, attaches to his back, and lifts him up. 

What other roles would you like to do?

Judy: I’ve played Galinda in “Wicked,” but when I’m older, I’d like to do it professionally. She’s such a brat.

Colin: I would love to play Javert or Jean Valjean. And Tobias in “Sweeney Todd.” 

So you want to stay in theater?

Judy: Yeah.

Colin: Forever.

-- Charlotte Stoudt

“Les Misérables” closes this Sunday at the Ahmanson Theatre; “Richard III” runs at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum through Oct. 2.

Photos: Top, Colin DePaula, one of the actors who plays Gavroche in "Les Miserables" at the Ahmanson. Lower, Judy Durkin, left, plays Richard, Duke of York in Theatricum Botanicum's "Richard III." In the center is Zak Handler as Edward, Prince of Wales and at right, Chad Jason Scheppner as Richard III. Credit: Top, Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times. Lower, Ian Flanders.