By Diane Y. WelchCanyon Crest Academy (CCA) Envision Theatre has taken a bold step in its choice of presentation of the world-acclaimed musical Les Misérables.
Boublil and Schönberg’s classic musical will take the audience on an epic journey of passion and destruction set in 19th century France. CCA will present the school edition, specially adapted and licensed by Music Theatre International and Cameron Mackintosh Braun, which is shorter in length than the original score.
Directed by CCA Envision Theatre Coordinator Amy Blatt, with music direction by Envision Creative Director Anne Whattoff and Instrumental Music Coordinator Amy Villanova, the spring show will be staged later this month by an all-student cast in CCA’s Proscenium Theatre.
The plot of the show is set in the dark days of the French Revolution with main character convict Jean Valjean (played by Cameron Chang) hunted by the policeman Inspector Javert (played by Mark Steitz) for breaking his parole. Valjean leaves his past behind and keeps his vow to raise the young orphaned Cosette (played by Alison Norwood).
With the revolution gaining strength and Javert closing in, Valjean has no choice but to join the fight and sacrifices everything by saving the life of a young man, Marius (played by Steve Macario) who is in love with his adopted daughter.
It’s a classic tale of redemption and love overcoming adversity and is Blatt’s all-time favorite musical.
“It was always playing in my house growing up. The score is so beautiful and the story is so sad and touching,” said Blatt, who came to CCA in the fall of 2013 having stage managed productions at San Diego Repertory Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, Starlight Civic Light Opera and more.
At the beginning of the school year Whattoff and Blatt discussed a unique collaborative presentation between Envision Theatre and Vocal Conservatory with Les Misérables being a top choice because of its operatic style and potential for an expandable cast, said Blatt, who had praise for those who auditioned and made the cast.
“These students’ voices are second to none and having Cameron Chang cast as Valjean, who can beautifully hit the notes, is a rare find at the high school level.”
Cameron — who is a member of J Company Youth Theater outside of CCA — said that his role came with great responsibility. “I’m basically carrying the weight of the show on my shoulders. And if my performance doesn’t work, neither does the show.”
But the show is a team effort and Cameron has plenty of support with a cast of 50 vocalists and 27 musicians, Technical Director/Set Designer Jeremy Sewell, Costume Designer Janet Pitcher, Lighting Designer Nicole Davison, Stage Manager CCA Student Beatriz Pereira, about 20 student stage crew and technicians, and dozens of parent volunteers coordinated by Nancy Coker, with public relations courtesy of Susan Farese.
Other lead cast members include Samantha Tullie as Fantine, Halle Hoffman as Gavroche, Jerrin Padre as Eponine, Tyler Faison as Thernadier, and Grace Condon as Madame Thernadier.
Blatt said that the casts’ passion for this production will surely infect the audience. “These songs will bring them from laughter to tears.”
There are five performance dates: Friday, March 21, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, March 22, at 2 p.m.; Thursday, March 27, at 4 p.m.; Friday, March 28, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, March 29, at 7 p.m. The Proscenium Theatre is located on the school campus at 5951 Village Center Loop Rd, San Diego, CA 92130.
Advance ticket purchase prices are $6 for students, $13 for adults at https://www.cca-envision.org/events/tickets.html . Door prices are $8 and $15 respectively.
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