Behind the Scenes at Les Misérables

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Behind the Scenes at Les Misérables

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It’s that time of year again. No, I don’t mean the Christmas season world of peppermint chocolate and carols played on an almost-endless loop throughout every radio station and Starbucks from here to New York City, and I don’t mean summer break, characterized by freshly-mowed lawns and iced drinks chilling in the fridge until drops of condensation run down their sides. Rather, it’s the tradition that brings light and laughter to the rickety seats of the Boulder High auditorium: the spring musical.

One of the school’s most celebrated activities is the annual performance put on by the theater department. In years past, it has been anything from Beauty and the Beast, the dashing love story who’s jubilant theme preaches the idea that you can’t judge a book by its cover, to Rent, a play about… well… trying to pay the rent. This time, the production is Les Misérables, just as different from the other two as they are from each other. Set in France, it follows ex-convict Jean Valjean (Aidan Robie), and the independent and resourceful Cosette (Clara Hunter and Ella Blankenship), as they try to make their way through life during the dangerous time of a revolution.

Tickets are available at boulderhightheater.org. It will be showing April 3rd through 6th in the auditorium, with the lead roles played by Aidan Robie, Brooke Curry, Brynn Hughes, Clara Hunter, Ella Blankenship, Erik Larsson, Jesse Shafroth, Joseph Whitney, Korben Smart, Lou Abecassis, and Spencer Neumann. If any production deserves to be christened “a labor of love,” it has to be Les Mis. Actors practice until seven most nights—as the showing draws closer, it’s increased to nine—and even their Saturday’s are spent at the school, rehearsing. Both dedication and passion are absolute requirements.

According to Korben Smart, “[Les Mis] is hectic, it’s fun, it’s long, but it is one of the most rewarding clubs in this school, ’cause when it really all comes together it’s a sight to behold by everyone—it just takes a lot to get there.”

Commenting on his role of Javert, Korben claimed that “It’s definitely a little harder than other roles I’ve played because it doesn’t have a lot of character development shown on stage. The musical happens over many years, and my character is sort of just growing in the background.”

Jesse Shafroth, concerning his part Enjolras (“or Enchilada, if that’s hard to pronounce”), had a different perspective, stating that “What was particularly challenging is that I’ve never really been a role like [him] in the past. Enjolras is a powerful, strong leader and I’ve always been the nerdy, geeky, kind of stupid person in shows. Like when I was Mark from Rent.”

Meanwhile, Lou Abecassis, playing Fantine, and Aidan Robie, who portrays Valjean, both struggle in other areas. Lou has trouble getting into character for someone so vastly different from her personality, and Aidan has to regulate his voice to deal with the contrast between songs.

When they came into the production, the actors already had lots of hope.

“My expectations were… well, I’ve known this whole show since I was 3 years old, so [they] were set really high. And we’ve reached them,” Aidan remarked.

Korben’s standards were also steep, and Lou predicted great levels of stress. In both cases, their hunches were correct.

Before I experienced it myself, I didn’t necessarily believe when I was told how devoted the entire theater department was. Sure, there are certain levels of friendship that come hand in hand with proximity, but in a performance as big as Les Mis, there are bound to be some people who go largely under the radar. When I walked in, however, I was greeted by the chaotic-and-heartwarming jumble of those who consider each other family. “Everyone here is super close together and we’re all into what we do and making shows and art. … At the end of the day we all love and respect each other,” explained Jesse.

Lou had a similar sentiment. “We [especially] love our techies. People don’t realize that they put on the entire show. They make the set and do all the costumes. Techies are the reason we’re not naked on stage. They’re great.”

The performers already know they’ll do well. Aidan described it as “A really good show with hardworking band, actors, tech, directors, and everyone.” Korben concurred, declaring that “The end result is going to be a killer musical just filled with absolutely stunning tech and amazing performances by everyone involved.”

Finally, they confided the tips they’d give to aspiring actors who wish to try out for next year’s production. Lou urges people to “Be yourself. Have fun. Create a community here.” Aidan advises them to “Be confident in yourself, be prepared, and make sure you love what you’re doing.” And Korben encourages anyone who doesn’t make it in to join tech. According to him, it’s a great way to make friends.