News Column

'Les Miserables' continues at Niagara Falls High School

October 17, 2013

YellowBrix

Oct. 17--NIGHT & DAY -- "Opening weekend of Les Miserables was a great success, according to those who produced the ambitious musical that opened last weekend in the Performing Arts Center at Niagara Falls High School.

"'Les Miserables' is the biggest show we have ever done," said Ryan Scarfone, chairman of Theatre in the Mist -- which selected 60-plus actors from about 200 who auditioned from throughout Western New York -- to perform in the acclaimed Broadway production which will continue through Oct. 26. The audience rose to a standing ovation opening night, Scarfone said, and "We were thrilled with both the cast and orchestra's performances."

The production, called a "monster," by director Joey Bucheker, is even bigger than the local theater group's past produtions of "The Wizard of Oz," and "Annie."' But, Bucheker noted he's very happy with the way the show has come together.

"It amazes me to see how close this cast has become and how devoted they are to the show," he said. "They have created a family and are so passionate about doing the show and doing it well. I am so very proud."

The play, called a "sung through" musical because every word of dialogue is sung by the cast, is about a student uprising in 19th century France. Based on the novel of the same name by Victor Hugo, the plot follows the life of French peasant sent to prison for stealing bread to feed his dying nephew. Released 19 years later he breaks parole to better his life but is relentlessly tracked by a police inspector. Along the way he is swept into a revolution where students make their last stand at a police barracade.

The plot may be grim, but the production has won acclaim around the world since it was first produced is Paris in 1980, and there are many fans of the production's music.

"Fantine is one of my dream roles," said Melissa Leventhal, who plays the heroine, an unjustly fired factory worker who becomes a prostitute to support her illegitimate child.

"I am so blessed to be able to play her. She is such a tragic character," Leventhal said, adding that one of the play's most popular songs, "I Dreamed a Dream," is one of the most emotional moments of her performance. She also lauded her fellow cast members for their singing abilities and noted "Every time I hear them sing I am just transported!"

An opening night audience member, Lynn Hergott, said she was "blown away," by the show she saw last weekend. "There were many times I had chills because I was overwhelmed by how the cast sounded, especially when they were all onstage together," Hergott said. "You could tell the cast really put their heart and soul into this show."

IF YOU GO n WHAT: "Les Miserables" and internationally acclaimed musical starring actors from around Western New York n WHERE: Performing Arts Center, Niagara Falls High School and is produced by the local theater group, Theatre in the Mist. n WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Also, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 25, and 26. n MORE INFO: Visit www.theatreinthemist.org or phone 1-877-856-0694. Tickets are $15 for adults, $13 for students and seniors and $7 for children under 12.

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(c)2013 the Niagara Gazette (Niagara Falls, N.Y.)

Visit the Niagara Gazette (Niagara Falls, N.Y.) at www.niagara-gazette.com

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