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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Broadway's longest-running musical comes to Elkhorn

Story and photos by Doug Stewart/Contributor

Doug Stewart/Contributor
On right, Patrick Fitzgerald-Fleck as Mayor Jean Valjean rescues a trapped worker in the play.
In 1862 Victor Hugo published Les Miserables, the epic story of an ex-convict, Jean Valjean and his arch nemesis, Inspector Javert. Valjean's crime? He stole a loaf of bread to feed his sister's family. Woven into the story, Hugo comments on society, French history, moral philosophy and even the architecture of Paris, among other things. The novel was a smash hit in 1860s France. One doubts that Hugo ever imagined his novel as a musical, but in 1980 French composer Claude-Michel Schönberg and librettist Alain Boublil created what has come to be known as "Les Miz," the longest running musical in the history of Broadway.
The production requires not just actors, but actors who can sing. "Les Miz" is a very ambitious project for a high school theatrical company, but on Feb. 29 and March 1, Elkhorn Area High School will present "Les Miserables" in all its glory.

Lisa Dettman, the teacher in charge of the production, said, "Les Miz is my favorite musical ever. I've always wanted to do it. This year we have kids with big beautiful voices, so we decided to do it." This is the largest production EAHS has ever done. It calls for countless costume changes, for everyone from the principal cast to the chorus members, numerous sets and changes in lighting, a tour de force for both actors and stage crew.

JoHanna Burton, who plays Fantine, a poor girl forced into prostitution in order to survive, is one of those "big voices" and her solo on "I Dreamed a Dream" should not be missed. JoHanna, a junior, has been in every production since her freshman year. "I love acting," she said. "Fantine is a character you have a lot of pity for. This is a wonderful musical, a dream come true, really, and it's very dark, very emotional."
Jean Valjean is portrayed by Patrick Fitzgerald Fleck. Patrick is a senior and has been acting since his freshman year and plans to continue in college. "Les Miz is challenging and dramatic, to say the least. It's gonna be awesome; it's gonna be fun." Of his character, he said, "Jean is a deep character, deeply conflicted. In the beginning, he has given up on himself, but he finds hope through the Bishop of Digne and redemption through God."

"Les Miserables" is perhaps not suitable for younger audiences, since it deals with some very adult themes and some of the language is a bit rough. Heather Harris, who plays the older Cosette (there are two, one younger and one older) has been acting since eighth grade in summer productions and with the Summer Elks Players. She said, "It's a big deal, huge. It's a lot of work and it has taken over my life the last few months, but it's worth it. People should definitely come and see it. It's a good experience, but leave the kids at home."
Inspector Javert is played by Alex Miller, a senior who has been acting for about 10 years. He has been bitten by the theater bug. "I do plan to continue in college; I have auditioned for a bunch of theater programs. I don't hear back until March or April. Fingers crossed."
About the character of Javert he said, "Javert is definitely the most fun to play in the show even though he's not the biggest part, because for the whole show he seems like a big jerk, but you get to see this really cool transformation at the end." About the production, like all of the cast member, he is enthusiastic. "We have lots of really excellent singers, and it is my favorite show."

Make "Les Miserables" your favorite show too. The production will be offered on Friday, Feb. 29 and Saturday, March 1. Both are at 7 p.m. at Elkhorn Area High School. Tickets are $5 in advance and $6 at the door. Tickets may be purchased in advance from the E.A.H.S. office.

If you go

What: Les Miserables

Where: Elkhorn Area High School

When: Friday, Feb. 29 and Saturday, March 1 at 7 p.m.

Info: Tickets $5 in advance and $6 at the door

Cast

Jean Valjean - Patrick FitzGerald-Fleck
Javert - Alex Miller
Chain Gang - Alex Suchy, Stephen Brellenthin,Chris
Nehs, Brady Norton
Constables - Sam Keller, Patrick Fincutter
Farmer - Jeremy Erskine
Laborer - Joey Baldwin
Bishop of Digne - Andy Baldwin
Fantine - JoHanna Burton
Foreman - Jeremy Erskine
Factory Girls - Rose Perry, Allison Schmidt, Emily Wells
Factory Girl 5 - Kari Sisko
Women at the Docks - Liza Maney, Samantha Jones,
Liz Cook, Taylor Parks
Sailor 1 - Mark Ehlers
Sailor 2 - Stephen Brellenthin
Sailor 3 - Chris Nehs
Bamatabois - Jeremy Erskine
Old Woman - Isabella Virrueta
Pimp - Justin Kirkpatrick
Fauchelevant - Nate Russell
Judge - Ryan Redetzke
Young Cosette - Katherine Neshek
Madame Thenardier - Amaryllis Scott
Thenardier - Eric Townsend
Young Eponine - Meagan Larson
Gavroche - Brady Norton
Gavroche's Gang - Sara Chojnacki, Faith Justus,
Sam Keller, Grace Park, Abbey Shepard,
Megan Welsh
Eponine - Grace Wales
Enjolras - Alex Suchy
Marius - Shane Baumann
Cosette - Heather Harris
Montparnasse - Rose Perry
Babet - Kari Sisko
Brujon - Andy Baldwin
Claquesous - Patrick Fincutter
Members of the ABC Society
Combeferre - Eduardo Castro
Feuilly - Chris Nehs
Courfeyrac - Justin Kirkpatrick
Joly - Mark Ehlers
Prouvaire - Stephen Brellenthin
Lesgles - Daymon York
Grantaire - MJ Gellada

Chorus (The Poor, The Workers, The Onlookers)
Charlotte Colin, Emily Watson, Hannah Bever,
Ali Nelson, Carrissa Sommers, Alexa Wilkins

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