Jamie Buechele as Cosette, top, and Eric Parker as Jean Valjean in a scene from the Croswell Opera House production of ‘Les Miserables.’
The Croswell Opera House in Adrian has begun its 2014 Broadway season in a big way, with a legendary — and huge — musical, the acclaimed Les Miserables.
According to Les Miserables’ international website, the show has been seen by 65 million people in 42 countries. Right now you can buy tickets to Les Miserables performances on Broadway, and in London, Toronto, Australia, Japan, Spain, and Korea. And then there’s the 2012 movie — you can own it on Blu-ray, or download it.
The musical has big themes: the triumph of the human spirit in one brave individual, and in the revolutionary zeal of a people. Set in early 19th-century France, it chronicles the suffering of Jean Valjean, a French peasant who served years in prison for stealing bread for a starving child. He is released, breaks parole, and goes in search of a new life, finding success as mayor and factory owner in a French town. But, he is mercilessly hounded by a policeman, Inspector Javert, who wants to drag him back to jail.
The drama is magnified when Valjean promises a dying woman, Fantine, who once worked in his factory, that he will care for her daughter, Cosette. Along the way, Valjean is swept up in the 1832 fever of revolution in France.
Based on a historical novel by Victor Hugo that was first published in 1862, Les Miserables opened on Broadway in 1987. The musical, from Alain Boubil and Claude-Michel Schonberg, with English lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer, includes such songs as I Dreamed a Dream, On My Own, Stars, Bring Him Home, and One Day More. The original Broadway production was nominated for 12 Tony Awards and won eight, including Best Musical and Best Original Score.
The Croswell production, with a top-notch cast of more than 50 actors, is directed by Mark DiPietro, a professor of theater and speech and chairman of the arts division at Siena Heights University in Adrian.
When people ask him what he finds most appealing about Les Miserables, DiPietro usually tells them it is its redemptive nature. “Jean Valjean has made a mistake, and rather than let it sink him, he vows to help others the way he was helped, and that's an important thing,” DiPietro said in a telephone interview. But now, after rehearsing six evenings a week for five weeks, DiPietro says he really just enjoys listening to all that glorious music. “It’s nice to enjoy a fine orchestra playing great music, with great singers in front of it,” he said.
The cast includes professional actors Eric Parker as Jean Valjean and Michael Lackey as Javert. Others in the cast include Erin Yuen as Fantine, Jamie Buechele as Cosette, Alisha Bond as Eponine, Jarrod Alexander as Marius, Michael Yuen as Enjolras, Bruce Hardcastle as the Bishop, Bethany Craig as Little Cosette, Jeremy Craig as Gavroche, and Jeffrey King and Natasha Ricketts as Thenardier and Madame Thenardier.
Music direction is by Jonathan Sills, choreography is by Katie Fairbanks, and scenic/lighting/projection design is by Ryan B. Tymensky.
Les Miserables will be performed at the Croswell Opera House, 129 E. Maumee St. in Adrian, at 8 p.m. Friday; at 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $15-$35, from 517-263-6868; croswell.org, or the box office.
Featured Film Series
Max Anderson, Private Eye, a comedy by local filmmaker Michael DeSanto, will be screened at 7:30 p.m. Saturday as part of Launch Pad Cooperative’s Featured Film Series, which highlights the work of local film and video makers.
The film will be presented at the gallery, 911 Jefferson Ave. There is no charge.
Send theater news to Sue Brickey at firstname.lastname@example.org at least two weeks before the event.