Jul 24, 2014 Ashley Wolf Uncategorized
“Les Misérables,” a critically acclaimed musical and a story of turmoil, love and courage in the darkest of times, has moved audiences around the world. Now, the musical will be performed at the Fayetteville-Manlius High School for community members and visitors by the town of Manlius Recreation Department.
This year, for the first time in 12 years, Shawn Hebert, the town of Manlius’ musical director for more than 10 years, will take the stage for the first time as lead character, Jean Valjean.
Since 1976, the town of Manlius has put on 36 productions including Grease, Bye Bye Birdie, Oliver and Beauty and the Beast. Although “Les Misérables” has been popular since its premiere in 1980, the town of Manlius has not produced the musical until now. However, because of the musical’s hype that has come from the 2012 movie and 2014 Broadway revival, now is the perfect time to put on the musical, one of the production’s producers Kristine Zingaro said.
“Every year can be a struggle to find a show to do,” Zingaro said. “There are a lot of different factors that go into finding a show, such as which show will bring in the most audience and which show will please the community. We’ve been doing shows since 1976, but the interest and hype of ‘Les Misérables’ made us [choose] it. It was a no brainer.”
“Les Misérables” takes place during the French Revolution and is based off Victor Hugo’s 19th-century novel of the same name. The musical tells the story of Jean Valjean, a peasant who is imprisoned for 19 years because he stole a loaf of bread for his sister’s starving child. Once Valjean’s prison time is up, he is released and in order to start a new life, breaks parole. He becomes a mayor of a town and a father to a girl he adopts after her prostitute mother dies. Valjean is hunted by Javer, a relentless police inspector, throughout the story. Valjean and many of the characters help in the French Revolution, standing up for their ideals and taking one last stand against the government at a street barricade.
Hebert was cast as Valjean prior to May auditions because the producers knew Valjean was Hebert’s dream role. The rest of the cast, over 30 children and adults, were chosen to fit with the producers’ vision of Hebert as lead, Hebert said.
Although Hebert performed in many shows during his adolescent and college years, he has not performed in a production since he became a father more than 12 years ago. Hebert has been the musical producer of multiple shows in the time he was not on stage, but was drawn back to the stage for “Les Misérables” because of Valjean’s songs and captivating personality. Valjean was the dream role that came at a great time with the best location and fantastic production team, he said.
“I think people that haven’t been to a town of Manlius show for a few years might not realize how [high] production value is,” Hebert said. “We have all of our sets as projections, we have a full pit orchestra, processional sound— it’s going to be a very high end performance. We’ve got incredible voices in the cast and everyone fits their parts so well. I’m very excited.”
This year, the town of Manlius has added a modernized twist to the set by having all of its scenery projected from a projector hanging above the actors and onto a white screen set up behind the actors on the stage, producer Eric Feola said.
“The scenery will look very versatile,” Feola said. “It’s going to be a powerpoint of paintings that will then be projected onto a backdrop. The best part about [the projection idea] is that you hang [the backdrop] once and then you’re done. Every scene is different and you’re not paying for big set changes; it’s a lot cheaper. The paintings are based off of a book of Hugo’s paintings. The paintings are recreated in the style of the French Revolution and in the style for the setting of ‘Les Misérables.’”
The show will take place at 7 p.m. from July 24 to July 26 at the Fayetteville-Manlius High School auditorium. The show’s cast and crew have dedicated a lot of time and effort to create a production that the community will enjoy, Zingaro said.
“This community is filled with so much talent,” Zingaro said. “We had no fears of a bad cast. From ensembles to leads, everyone is great. It’s incredible how hard our production team and cast members work in order to present a show to the community. There has been a lot of time, sacrifice and hard work by the tech, stage and lighting crews, production team, orchestra, directors and cast in order to put on a great show for the community.”
To buy tickets for Town of Manlius’ production of “Les Misérables,” go to manliusmusical.ticketleap.com. Adult tickets cost $15; children, 12 and under, $13; senior citizens (65 and over) $13.
Ashley Wolf is an intern with the Cazenovia Republican. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.