Drama Starts Revolution

Ingrid Chan, Staff Writer

After having performed a short sneak peak of the “Les Miserables” play during the performing arts rally earlier this year, DBHS drama students are now preparing for the real deal.

The DBHS Theatre Department will be presenting a production of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg’s “Les Miserables,” based on Victor Hugo’s novel of the same title, on  April 22-24 and 28-30 at 7:00 p.m.  “Les Miserables” is set in 19th century France during a time of social and political revolution, when student uprisings were beginning to tear through the streets of Paris.

The musical follows the life of Jean Valjean, right after he is released from 19 years of imprisonment.  Inspired and encouraged by a kind act on the part of a stranger, Valjean decides to turn his life around, beginning with a fresh start.  The play follows his struggles as he strives for redemption and justice, all the while being pursued by the relentless Police Inspector Javert.

Members of the Theatre Department began rehearsals after school in early February, but the students have been studying their scripts even before that.  The elaborate costumes needed for the show were rented for the most part, and the students in stagecraft have created most of the props and sets for the play.

“It’s a very expensive show this year.  The costumes and everything else will cost close to $30,000, which is why the ticket prices are a bit higher for this show,” Drama advisor and instructor Beatrice Casagran said.

The drama department strives to run like a theater company.  Students apply to production jobs at the end of each year, resulting in students with the positions of stage manager and head of concessions, as well as others who are responsible for props and publicity.

The version of the drama they will be performing this year is a school edition, which means they will only cut out a few repetitive sections.  It doesn’t mean they’ve softened the content at all.  As far as changing things within the musical, the license for the piece dictates what they can do.  Essentially, they’re not allowed to change much about the play other than twisting the occasional swear word or redundant phrase.

One change that they are making, because “Les Miserables” has so many male voices, is the casting of girls who have mezzo voices as several of the men in the rebellion.

“There’s a ‘Les Miserables’ revival on broadway right now that closes this summer, and that is what partly inspired us to do ‘Les Miserables’ for our own play,” Casagran said.

But for this play, it’s not just the DBHS students that will be acting. For the first time in a DBHS production, elementary and middle school students will also be making an appearance.  Before drama began rehearsing, auditions were held for younger students in the district.  The 10 who were awarded roles now rehearse alongside the drama students, every day.

“They add a whole new layer to the show. Now we actually have kids playing as kids instead of just casting short people,” senior Juliana King said.

Junior Riley Mawhorter will be acting as the main character Jean Valjean, while junior Daniel Durkee was cast as the persistent Inspector Javert.  Playing the role of Valjean’s adopted daughter Cosette is sophomore Mary Thomas, and her suitor Marius will be portrayed by senior Jaden Campbell.  There are also more than thirty other actors, all of whom have worked together for over three months in order to bring their performance of “Les Miserables” together.

Now that the date of the play is drawing closer, the cast rehearses every day for up to four hours to polish up their skills.

This year, tickets will not be sold at the door because Casagran hopes to encourage people to buy tickets from the students.  The prices are $18 for adults and $15 for students.