By Wayne Harada
“Les Miserables,” the Tony- and Academy Award-winning musical inspired by the valor and humanity of the French revolution, will open a five-weekend run Sept. 20 at Paliku Theatre, Windward Community College.
For Ronald Bright, the veteran director, the British musical about everyday heroes in extraordinary situations completes his trifecta of dream productions.
“The three biggies in my directorial career are ‘Miss Saigon’ (we had a helicopter), ‘Phantom of the Opera’ (we had a chandelier) and now it’s ‘Les Miz’ (we will have a barricade),” said Bright. “My theater career might not have been complete had we not decided to include this show in our repertoire.”
An open-call audition for plum roles will be held at 6 p.m. Monday (June 24) and Tuesday (June 25), with callbacks on Wednesday (June 26). A swarm of auditioners is anticipated.
Tickets will be available later this summer, but expect admission to be $45 regular seats, $49 central premium seats.
Tom Holowach, Paliku’s general manager and the lone paid theatrical hire on the Windward campus, had been working on acquiring the production for about two years.
“I’ve been sweating this one out for a long time,” said Holowach. The snag was in the language of the MTI (Music Theatre International) contract and the dispute was finally resolved this week.
“We had a contract back in November, but nobody to sign it, which started a long process of modifying the language to retain the protection of the original wording,” said Holowach.
“Les Miz, ” based on the Victor Hugo novel, long has been a favorite for theater actors and audiences. It still is playing in London and it has had a successful original run, along with a revival, on Broadway.
The December release of the all-star movie version, featuring Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean, Russell Crowe as Inspector Javert, and Anne Hathaway as Fantine, has heightened audience interest, including a generation of film-goers who may not have been exposed to the stage production.
The show’s leading characters, along with the roles of Eponine, Marius, Cosette, Thenardier, Madame Thernadier, and young Cosette and Gavroche, are plums in the annals of theater, requiring strong voices to deliver the emotional score of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schoenberg.
The score is rich in melody and texture, including such signature tunes as “I Dreamed a Dream,” “Castle on a Cloud,” “Bring Him Home,” “On My Own,” “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables,” “Do You Hear the People Sing,” and “Master of the House.”
Bright recalls seeing the show in London in 1993, sitting in the very last row of the balcony, and became immersed in the emotion of the story, and “not being able to move after witnessing the power of the human heart and all it can endure. It is, and always will be, the best musical I’ve ever experienced.”
Holowach said that the auditions will be an open call, with no pre-cast roles. “Every singing teacher will send students,” he said. “My advice is, learn the song the character sings; if you act and look and sound like the character, you’re in a pretty strong position (to get selected).”