Les Miserables Leaves Audience Breathless

Senior Tricia Pabst expresses deep emotion in a production of Les Miserables.

By Nicole Zelazko, Arts & Entertainment Editor

The Niles West Theatre Department performed “Les Miserables” this past weekend, April 26-April 28. Les Miserables is a story that examines love, forgiveness, and justice while being set on the backdrop of 19th century France. It is told through the eyes of a man who rises from poverty and incarceration in hopes of being well respected and giving.

The Theatre Department started rehearsals promptly before Spring Break, putting the show together in roughly five weeks. The time seems extremely minimal, correlating directly to why the crew committed their weekdays and weekends to tackling this tough show.

Though Les Mis is a renowned and well-known show, director Andy Sinclair decided to put a twist on it, by making it modern and by having no one leave the stage at any given time. As for the set, the backdrop of France was prevalent, but the actors were asked to create the missing portions with their bodies.

“The company never leaves the stage, which gives into the idea of an entire community telling a story. It was a little tougher, not only because the music is abundant and tough, but also because we have 31 people on stage at all times. We talked it while asking the question ‘how do we make sure each of them is part of the story?'” Sinclair said.

Junior Lily Gussis connected deeply with the message the show set to put out. Though she agrees the production was done much differently than the original show, she enjoyed that each person had a big role and never left the stage. The sense of community was overwhelming, as the entire cast and crew came together all at once.

“Especially in these times, anyone can stand up. In typical productions of Les Mis, the people at the barricade are all male- for us, it was important for us to have both male and females fighting and equally using the guns to fight,” Gussis said. “In that particular sense, anyone can really do anything.”

On the opposite side of the production, the crew behind the scenes worked equally as hard to make this show possible. Senior and two-time stage manager Caroline Ryan notes that the experience during this musical was much more difficult than managing her first show, “Almost Maine.” Going from a show with no lighting spots to four, as well as 3 different people having to work sound and 31 people backstage, was challenging, but rewarding.

“I see myself as the puppet master- controlling everyone, telling them what to do, where to go, what’s wrong and how to fix it. It was stressful at first, but now that I know what I’m doing, it was the most rewarding experience,” Ryan said.

Senior and theatre star Tricia Pabst truly ended her Niles West Theatre career on a high note. After being active in the department since freshman year, Pabst closed by playing the lead character of Eponine, a girl madly in love. She did not fail to amaze the audience, especially during her solo song “On My Own.”

“We had a lot of talented people for this show that really took pride in their work. It was the best way to end my high school theatre career,” Pabst said. “Theatre has made a huge impact on my life and though I’m not exactly sure how it will be in my future, I know it will be there and will stay there throughout my life.”

As an active patron of our Theatre department, it is safe to say this was, by far, the best show the department has put on in my four years here. I enjoyed it enough to see it, not once, but twice (and with anyone who did watch the show, you know the lengthiness could make you a bit lethargic). Each character had a brawny voice that left the audience with their mouths dropped- I’m not kidding. Each time a new character entered the stage, whispers would gauge through the crowd, with comments such as “that kid could be on Broadway” and “are you sure this is a high school show?” Any review of the show would be extremely underwhelming- the power behind viewing it is indescribable.

A huge congratulations to the entire cast of Les Mis — you guys have done outdone yourself, but what’s new?