Richard Cameron, the head of Augusta Preps Upper School, plays a policeman and Patricia Quinland plays Fontine during a rehearsal for Les Miserables.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
It was an opportunity Gloria Dossett couldn't let pass.
"We were going to do Guys and Dolls," said Dossett, director of Augusta Preparatory Day School's theater program, of the fall production.
When she learned that Musical Theatre International had just released a school version of the hit Broadway production Les Miserables and her school would have the opportunity to be one of the first in the nation to stage it in its initial limited release, Dossett scrapped her earlier plans.
"When I got the rights, I was astonished," she said. "I have never had this many professional quality singers.I had to do something special."
The production, based on the novel by Victor Hugo, is more like an opera than a musical, said Dossett.
It features 49 performers in 139 roles. Augusta Prep's upper school only has about 180 students.
Condensed from the more-than-1,200-page original work, the school version of the musical is much like its professional Broadway counterpart and runs a little under three hours with an intermission.
The Broadway version will come to Augusta Feb. 11-16 at the Bell Auditorium.
Les Miserables deals with many themes in its story of France after the reign of Napoleon. Its heart is found in one of the most famous quotes in the book: "To love another person is to see the face of God."
While Augusta Prep is a nonsectarian school with pupils from a broad base of faiths, Dossett said everyone in the cast has been able to find their own truth in that statement, and she has seen it at work among cast members, whose early afternoon rehearsals have stretched well into the evenings.
Augusta Preparatory Day School will present "Les Miserables" at 7 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday at the school. Advance tickets are $8 for students and $12 for adults. At the door, tickets are $12 for students and $15 for adults. For more information, call 863-1906.
"To be wrapped around that message, you find yourself forgiving people and their dumb stuff," said Dossett. "You cannot do this show in a snippy way. Everyone has to give."
Despite all the long hours and hard work put into producing the musical, actors leave rehearsals each day feeling uplifted.
"The characters express so much emotion on stage; you feel cleansed at the end of the day," said Kyle Arrington, a senior who plays the part of Javert.
"This show leaves you so happy even though almost everybody dies," said Dossett. "You are so happy to be human."
Dossett said the production has caught the attention of a lot of people.
Advance ticket sales for the four-day run have gone well. She expects them to sell out.
Representatives from other high school theater departments are scouting the production to see if it might work in their schools.
Local eyes aren't the only ones on the school and its production.
A list of schools producing the play is on the Musical Theatre International's Web site.
A theater department official from Southern Methodist University in Dallas found out Augusta Prep was one of the schools chosen for the limited release.
"He's making a trip to see three of the kids" at a later date, said Dossett, who has worked in professional theater in New York and believes some of her students have the talent to work in professional theater.
Advance tickets to Les Miserablescost $8 for students and $12 for adults. At the door, tickets cost $12 for students and $15 for adults. For more information, call the school at 863-1906.
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