Beyond the barricade...

by Jenny

The small crowd of students gathered in hushed anticipation as the notice was pinned to the board. A few seconds of pure silence balanced on a knife edge as they peered and squinted at the list of printed names.

“Bastard,” spat Phillps, and strode dramatically from the small group, which broke into frantic gabbling chatter.

“We knew it would be him,” Jameson reasoned, hurrying after him. “Don’t let it get to you.”

“Every bastard year,” grumbled Phillips. “Last year he landed Danny Zuko, the year before that he was bloody Jesus and now this. Miller is going to be Val Jean.”

“At least you get to be Marius - he’s got loads of good songs. I’m just Prisoner Number Four. You’ll get to sing ‘Red! The blood of angry men’...’

Jameson trailed off, unconvinced by his own false cheer. Val Jean was the only role worth having and they both knew it.

“But Val Jean - it’s the dream, isn’t it? Oh I can just see his smug fucking face. I bet he knows already - I bet they bloody consulted him last night before they printed the list. I bet there’ll be t-shirts with Miller's smarmy bastard face plastered all over them.”

Phillips was shouting now, and spitting a bit. The small group at the notice board turned to stare. He wheeled to face them.

“Even you lot must have noticed by now, how Miller always lands the plum role? Why do none of us get a look in? Ever wonder why that is?”

“Phillips - don’t do this. We have no idea if it’s even true” Jameson tugged futilely on Phillips’ sleeve.

“I’d be ten times the Val Jean that Miller would - and you all know it. So why has the lead gone to Miller again?”

“Phillips - you don’t have to do this -”

But the small crowd was interested now, Phillips had their attention.

“Because he’s fucking the director that’s why!”

Jameson hid his face in his hands as the crowd visibly bristled.

“What?” shouted one of them. “So we spend thirty odd grand on tuition fees to be chucked at the back of the chorus while that bastard Miller shags his way to the West End?”

“Exactly! Why should we stand for it?!”

“We damn well shouldn’t.”

“Well what are we going to do about it? Just stand here? Play Prisoner Number Four like good little students? We should all get the chance to be Val Jeans!”

“Too right!”

When Jameson looked again, the crowd was following Phillips back up towards the auditorium, riled up and furious.”Cries of “Fuck Miller” and “Bring down Miller” and “Viva la Revolucion!” drifted back to him.

On the stage in the auditorium Miller was smearing grime flatteringly into the hollows of his cheeks and admiring himself in the mirror. Under his breath he muttered ‘24601’ in different intonations.

At the clatter of shoes on the auditorium steps he turned with a flourish and beamed up at the oncoming mob.

“Darlings - you’ll never guess what…”