CAST takes on ?Les Mis'

By Trina Trice

The children of CAST are all right. They're just pretending to be miserable, a requirement as performers in the Clayton County Alliance for Summer Theatre's production of the musical "Les Mis?rables: school edition" at the Clayton County Performing Arts Center. It is the third musical performed for the 2003 summer season.

The cast of more than 50 teenagers is undertaking the challenge of performing a classic Broadway musical that was originally written for and performed by Broadway professionals on top of their game, said Susan Simich, "Les Mis?rables" assistant director and choreographer.

The musical is based on the novel by Victor Hugo that is a social chronicle of the down and out in France during the French Revolution.

"This is a huge challenge because of the age group," she said. "But these kids are so unbelievably gifted. It's just a matter of refining what these kids already have. They are unusually dedicated and disciplined."

The CAST production of "Les Mis?rables" is different from the original Broadway version, but not too much, says Simich.

"We added a lot more movement than was in the original," she said. "It was fun trying to get (some of the female cast members) to move as ladies of the night. That was a challenge trying to get a 16-year-old to bump and grind.

"For the final march?we laughed our hearts out when we were trying to get that right. A lot of people have already seen the Broadway show, so we're trying to do it on that grand scale."

Brad Greer, playing the principle role of Jean Valjean, first saw the Broadway version of "Les Mis?rables" when he was in seventh grade.

With that show in his memory, Greer had some concerns about performing in the CAST version.

"I was concerned about playing someone older," he said. "Vocally I knew it would be a challenge, also. Vocally the range is so high and low. But it's been absolutely amazing.

I've been practicing a lot, vocalizing everyday and taking care of my voice. I don't talk a whole lot and I drink lots and lots of water."

With the large number of cast members and the inclusion of set design and theatre technology, that includes ear-attached microphones, "Les Mis?rables" is a challenge, said Lindsey Clinton, director.

Until Thursday, Clinton and other crew members will rush and refine technical kinks in the show until it's perfect.

"Expect to see a Broadway (quality) production," she said. "I really don't see a difference between these kids and Broadway performers. They hit the same notes?(the audience) should only expect a quality musical."