If you have been sitting in the cafeteria after school these past couple of weeks, you may have heard voices from the M&M singing about jail, love, war, and death. What could this possibly be? You may be wondering. Well, wonder no more as I am here to explain it all to you. You have been hearing the cast of Les Misérables practicing for their performance (coming up on May 20)!
In case you are unfamiliar with the very popular musical, let me break it down for you. There are multiple “frames” in the story (shoutout to Mrs. Whitlock’s English class). The musical takes place during the French Revolution and begins with the audience being introduced to the main protagonist, Jean Valjean (Lucy Stefani ‘21), who has been in jail for the past nineteen years after stealing a loaf of bread. He finally makes it out on parole, but soon after being released, he is caught stealing silver from the bishop ( Cee-Cee Deslaurier- Tate ‘24). The bishop shows Valjean mercy, empowering him to change his ways and to become a better man.
Fast-forward a few years and Valjean is now the mayor of a town. He has taken a new identity because he has broken his parole, causing him to be on the run from Inspector Javert (Emma Barry ‘22). We are introduced to one of his factory workers, Fantine (Anna Sheehan ‘21). It is discovered that Fantine has a child whom she must financially support, as the child lives with an innkeeper (Caroline Reichard ‘21) and his wife (Chloe Stefani ‘24). She is fired and forced into prostitution soon after. Valjean eventually meets her again as she is nearing death. He promises to take in her child, Cosette (Lucy Demeo ‘24), and care for her as his own.
Fast-forward another ten or so years: Cosette is all grown up and Valjean is still on the run. To add to this plot, there is now a revolution being plotted, led by young peasants Enjolras (Helen Olohan ‘24) and Marius (Katie Hanifin ‘24). We are also introduced to Eponine (Elyza Tuan ‘23), the biological child of the innkeeper and his wife, who is secretly in love with Marius. As you can most likely tell, the plot is far from simple. The story takes off from there, with lots of twists and turns sure to keep viewers engaged throughout the entirety of the show.
Many students were thrilled to hear that Montrose would be putting on such a beloved musical. Emma Barry ‘22 said: “I was so excited I saw the poster and screamed! It’s one of my all-time favorite musicals. I’ve been obsessed with my character, Javert, forever and I can’t wait to dig into his decisions and motives for my performance!” Anna Sheehan ’21 shared Emma’s excitement and said: “Les Mis is such an epic show to end my time at Montrose. Fantine has been one of my dream roles so I’m checking off a lot of life goals!” As excited as everyone was, most were also a bit curious as to how the show would be done as it deals with mature themes. Lucy Demeo ‘24 said: “I was surprised they chose a show that has so many adult themes.” Chloe Stefani ‘24 agreed with Demeo, saying: “I was also surprised, and my first thought was: What are they going to cut/change from the show?” On the other hand, Anna Sheehan had full confidence that the cast would be able to handle the intensity, due to the fact that Montrose has put on other mature shows (such as The Crucible). To address the question of what is being cut or changed, some songs have been made shorter and some lines have been changed a bit to create a more family-friendly show.
In order to perform this musical in person with Covid-19, it is going to be performed concert style out on Miracle Field. It will also be live-streamed so that anyone who cannot come in person can watch from their home. Another difference between this show and past performances is that some faculty members will be in the chorus, including Ms Thordarson, Ms White, and Ms Lechner. When asked about her reaction to Montrose’s performance choice, Ms Thordarson replied: “My first thought was: ‘Can faculty be involved?’ I’ve always wanted to be in Les Mis. I thought it was a very ambitious undertaking, but it makes sense to do when you need to follow Covid guidelines because it is sung through and is easy to perform concert style.”
The cast has been hard at work practicing five days a week in order to learn and perfect all of the songs in the show for the upcoming performance. This show will be like no other that we’ve seen at Montrose before, and the cast hopes everyone who is able to will come and enjoy it!
Helen Olohan ’24, Contributing Writer