The upper school Conservatory’s production of “Les Misérables” was a grand spectacle worthy of the musical’s impressive pedigree. Directed by performing arts chair Laura Lang-Ree, the beloved through-sung retelling of the classic Victor Hugo novel was wonderfully brought to life by the massive cast of upper school students, many of them playing multiple roles. During a run of four shows, the students played this most ambitious of musicals to a packed house each time, with more than 300 in attendance at every performance.
A sprawling, epic tale of redemption and romance spanning two decades in 19th-century France, “Les Misérables” chronicles the life of ex-convict Jean Valjean (Nirjhar Mundkur, Gr. 11) as he transforms himself from a petty thief into an honest man while evolution begins to foment among the Paris youth.
The elaborate, multi-tiered set, which changed the orientation of the theater to have the stage in the middle of the room and the audience on three sides, was designed and built by middle school performing arts teacher Paul Vallerga, and creatively implemented a rotating floor to show scenes from multiple perspectives. The dramatic lighting by Natti Pierce-Thomson enhanced every scene with the appropriate level of atmosphere.
Upper school music teacher Catherine Snider, utilizing a supplemental computerized orchestration for the first time in the Conservatory, conducted a five-piece band as they provided seamless musical accompaniment to the onstage performances.
Students also provided a tremendous amount of offstage assistance, operating light and sound boards, managing the stage, assisting with wardrobe and performing many other duties to keep the show running on all cylinders.