East Hampton students are bringing a theater classic, Les Misérables, to the stage this March.
“The first time I saw Les Misérables was back in 1989 and I was profoundly moved by the depth of emotion that I experienced from the musical adaptation of Victor Hugo’s epic novel,” director Debbie Mansir said. “From it’s less than stellar debut in Paris in 1980, in a sports arena, the show moved to England in 1985, where it received rave reviews, and still plays to this day in London’s famous West End. Les Miserables has been undeniably successful, being translated into over 21 languages, and enjoying numerous revivals on Broadway, and world wide tours.”
Being staged at the East Hampton High School from Friday, March 1 through Sunday, March 3, the production will highlight a whopping 46 student cast members, as well as a 22 member pit orchestra and a tech crew of 15.
“The tale of Jean Valjean is one of a journey from bitterness to joy, darkness to light and despair to encompassing faith. The messages of love, absolute forgiveness and redemption are so powerful and relatable, even in these tumultuous and confusing times,” Mansir noted. “Fantine’s selfless sacrifice for her child tempers the sorrow of her death with the uplifting power of her love. Javert’s beliefs in the absolute power structure of the law and class boundaries is tested and ultimately destroyed in his dealings with the redeemed Valjean, and goodness does triumph.”
The cast and crew have been working tirelessly on their adaptation of the Tony Award-winning musical spectacular that has been seen by 70,000,000 people in 44 countries.
“The music is incredible, the lead characters’ evolution through the story is unique and complex. We spent a bit of time before even starting rehearsals understanding the history of the times in the early 1800s in France. We looked at the social, economical and political systems that were in place and how each character was affected,” Mansir said. “We talked about the role of women during this time and why Fantine ended up as a prostitute, and the lengths she would go to protect her child, Cosette. We discussed why Marius, a privileged and educated young man would be involved with the student uprising of 1832. Victor Hugo takes the two main characters, Jean Valjean and Javert, on a journey from evil to good, darkness to light, despair to deep faith and injustice to justice, in reverse proportion to each other. The messages of love, forgiveness and redemption are so powerful and relatable with the kids, even today. I have heard the kids speak of these themes in their general conversations.”
“Also, because there are only eight lines of actual dialog, and the rest is sung, there is a full orchestra pit, which would include more students in the overall performances. Our pit has full string, woodwinds, brass and percussion sections, allowing more students to participate,” Mansir added.
Based on the French historical novel by Victor Hugo, the production’s lead roles have consistently attracted top talent, with adaptations starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried Dominic West, David Oyelowo, Lily Collins, Gérard Depardieu, John Malkovich, Patti LuPone, Liam Neeson, Geoffrey Rush, and other notable names.
“It has been the realization of a dream to be able to bring this incredibly beautiful and poignant musical to the East Hampton High School’s stage, and to do so with one of the most talented and dedicated group of young actors, musicians and crew I have had the privilege to work with,” Mansir added. “Conveying all the emotions this musical requires is difficult for the most seasoned professional, and these students have put their collective hearts and souls into this show to bring you their very best.”
Performances will take place at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 1 and Saturday, March 2, and 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 3.
“The obstacles and triumphs seem to mirror each other. One of the challenges of this show is the fact that it is almost told completely through song. The musical content is complex, not only in its need for musicality but also the need for the emotional depth that is required to express the true sense of the story and times,” Mansir said. “To see how the cast has not only risen to the challenge, but have embraced the music and their characters is a joy to be part of. They have worked so hard and put in the time and dedication that is required for a musical of this magnitude. Their performances will leave you astounded and move you to deep passion.”
Tickets to Les Misérables are $15 for adults and $10 for students and seniors (over 65). All tickets can be purchased at the door.
East Hampton High School is located at 2 Long Lane in East Hampton. For information, please call 631-329-6462.