May 08--Lubbock native David Gaschen, who performed on Broadway and overseas as the lead in "Phantom of the Opera," will return to his home town to star in the leading role of Jean Valjean in a local production of hit musical "Les Miserables."
Officials with the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra and Lubbock Moonlight Musicals formally announced Wednesday that they will co-produce four performances of "Les Miserables" at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 21-23, and 2 p.m. Nov. 24, at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center Theatre, 1501 Mac Davis Lane.
The Lubbock Junior League also is collaborating, allowing the production to be performed in the Civic Center during its annual Holiday Happening.
Tickets will go on sale Monday, May 13, to LSO and Moonlight Musical "subscribers," according to LSO president and CEO Mary Saathoff, and on May 20 to the general public.
Tickets will be sold at Select-A-Seat Outlets, with reserved seats $68.75, $53.50 and $43.50.
Direction is by Bill Gelber. Members of the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra will serve as the pit orchestra, conducted by John Hollins.
Saathoff indicated, "The budget for the entire show is over $230,000, a mammoth undertaking, and the largest project ever mounted by either organization (LSO and Moonlight Musicals).
"We are in this 50/50, and yes, we are applying for grants."
Dolter, president of Lubbock Moonlight Musicals, said he and Saathoff faced a deadline once they decided to co-produce the show.
"The rights for a fully staged 'Les Mis' became available to regional companies this year only," said Dolter.
"All national tours of the show ended in 2012. In 2014, a new Broadway revival will take place, and all rights for others will be stopped. So there was only a one-year window."
In addition to Gaschen, pre-cast roles are Dolter as Inspector Javert and Rebecca Saathoff Davis as Cosette.
Dolter's Texas Tech Music Theatre students will appear in other roles and in the chorus; members of Hollins' Lubbock Chorale also will help make up the chorus.
As a co-producer, Dolter will work with Gelber on casting and said, "I have not cast any other characters yet. I do have people in mind, though.
"The characters of Eponine, Fantine, Marius, Enjolras, Thernadier and Madame Thernadier are yet to be cast. These roles will not be open to audition."
Some roles will be open to community audition, with audition dates expected to be scheduled by Dolter before summer.
Gaschen, a graduate of Monterey High School and Tech, said, "This will be my 'Les Miserables' debut, which makes it even more special for me to perform it in Lubbock. I have four siblings who still live there, so it will be very nice to be home."
Speaking to the role, he noted, "Jean Valjean is one of, if not the most, vocally demanding roles in musical theater repertoire. It will be a nice challenge for me, but I have been waiting for this my whole life."
He also is thrilled to be working opposite Dolter, playing Javert.
Dolter made the decision not to direct specifically so that he could sing the role of Javert.
He explained, "The protagonist (Valjean) must be balanced with someone who can be the antagonist and his equal as a character and vocally. I am being objective about this. I have played some similar characters in my opera career -- Puccini's Scarpia, for instance -- but Javert is certainly one of the most complicated. I could not think of anyone locally who could act it and sing it like I envision.
"... I cannot direct a show and fill this character. I cannot do both and do a good job. Plus, I am looking forward to working with and learning from Bill Gelber. He is a creative master and a good friend."
Asked how the local production will handle the giant "turntable," or wheel, from which characters traditionally make entrances and exits, Dolter said, "(Scene designer) Tim Walsh and I are putting our heads around it still.
"The rights contract says we cannot copy the Broadway show, but we will come up with something creative and new."
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