Starting Thursday, Westbrook High School will roll out four consecutive performances of “Les Miserables,” an ambitious musical production that will involve more than 50 students.
According to Rick Solomon, a Westbrook English teacher who directs the school’s Sock ‘N Buskin drama club, the musical will be one of the largest productions in school history – a collaboration between the drama and music departments.
“Les Miserables” is based on the novel written by Victor Hugo in the 1860s. In 1980 the musical version, by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg, premiered in Paris and has been an international hit ever since. The “school edition” of the play, a shorter version, was adapted by Music Theatre International and Cameron Mackintosh.
The story is centered on revolutionary character Jean Valjean, a French peasant, on a quest for redemption, while he and various other characters become involved in what’s known as the “June rebellion” in Paris.
“It’s a beautiful story, with beautiful music,” Solomon said.
Some 70 students took a field trip to New York City earlier this year, where they saw “Les Miserables” on Broadway, and also participated in a workshop with a Broadway actress.
Solomon said that although the school edition shortens some aspects of the lengthy story, Westbrook’s production will include many of the musical’s most well-known songs. It’s also still lengthy and has an intermission.
He said the set is “massive,” especially for the relatively small stage at the Westbrook High School auditorium. It includes a large bridge and various other pieces that Solomon said are like a giant puzzle.
Due to the large undertaking of both the musical and dramatic aspects, the music department, including the chorus, is also involved. Solomon said there have been some unique challenges associated with such a large show, but “it will certainly be worth it.”
“The larger the cast, the more difficult it gets, but this is a very special group of dedicated young students,” he said.
Earlier this year, Westbrook’s drama club won multiple awards during the Maine state one-act competitions, advancing to the state finals in Camden.
In the lead roles, Milo Brooking plays Jean Valjean, Corey Walker is Javert, Sabrina Johns plays Eponine, Nicole McFarland is Cosette and Dylan Turner plays Marius.
A closer look
“Les Miserables” will be performed Thursday, June 2, Friday, June 3 and Saturday, June 4, at 7 p.m., and Sunday, June 5, at 2 p.m., at the Westbrook High School Auditorium. Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students and senior citizens.
Advance tickets can be purchased online at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2559074,