Monday, February 13, 2006

Les Miserables: A Musical at Sterling High School in Sterling, Illinois

If you had asked me before this weekend, I would have said that Les Miserables would not be a musical for high schools to attempt. It needs lots of good voices who can sing for hours, as there is no dialogue to link songs. The music is itself tough. There are some recurring melodies, but I would think it would take much time and practice to memorize the lyrics. Of course, I am no singer. Maybe it is easier than I think. I doubt it.

So, I was very impressed by the performance of Les Miserables: School Edition at the Sterling High School in Sterling, Illinois. The leads had beautiful, strong voices, the chorus was good, and the pit band played well for nearly three hours with only one intermission. The costumes were very professional, and the set was well-built. The stage even had a hand-operated turntable, just like the production we saw at the Auditorium Theater in Chicago. The faculty and students in Sterling should be very proud of their production.

The choruses rendering of "Do You Hear the People Sing" was rousing, and the battle scene on the barricade was very sad. At the end, tears were slipping out of the corners of my eyes when Fantine and Eponine sing to the dying Jean Valjean. It is an emotional musical.

Les Miserables is based on the book by Victor Hugo, and reading the book does help you understand the musical. The size of the book may scare you, but that will not matter if you give it a chance and get into it. The story is great. Valjean and Javert are some of the great characters in literature. Reading Les Miserables may be the highlight of your reading year and you will remember the story for years.

If you do not know the music, check out the compact discs of Les Miserables: The Musical That Swept the World, a tenth anniversary concert at the Royal Albert Hall.

Also, wherever you are, go to you local high school's plays and musicals. You may be stunned by the talent and dedication.

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